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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in High Cross House |

HXH: Day 2.2

HXH: Day 2.2

Well, I didn’t succeed in the end. In reality the Private View last night was too busy to be a good place to gather voices, and I’ll just have to allow that these things take time and live with missing an opportunity.

This is always the most frustrating time in a new project. Having decided to tackle learning a new technology, in particular one where the learning curve is steep and quite hard to navigate, the time spent rarely seems to have any relationship to the amount achieved. I’m beginning with an almost blank slate (in terms of knowledge) in that I’m delving into using the Raspberry Pi for the first time. The potential for this computer is amazing – £35 and immensely capable. As long as you can programme that is. The reason for being for this small device, which is about the same size as a pack of cards is to get the very young programming. It’s made in the UK – literally – and sold by a social enterprise.  How good is that?  They have been selling like hot cakes, but it’s unclear at the moment the extent to which the original goal is being reached. There is some suspicion that many are being bought by people like me, tinkerers and hobbyists.  The Pi doesn’t come with hundreds of apps, and compared to the bloated powerful machines we are used to working with every day, it’s a bit like going back to the 1980s. You are faced not with a pretty and powerful interface (although it does have a very standard user interface) but very few apps. Otherwise it’s spending time in the command line space, just learning commands and making things happen – very slowly.


I was delighted to discover that my old friend Max/MSP, which has been my mainstay as a person who builds interactive things, is sort of available for the Pi. In fact, it’s the free, slimmed-down version created by Miller Puckette and the team at UC Berkeley partly in response to the fact that Max/MSP had become unaffordable. Puckette was one of the original team behind Max, and I suspect there have been some interesting and fierce IP battles about all this. Pure Data can run on most platforms, and I’ve spent the last couple of days getting it to run on the Pi, with help from lots of others out there who have already succeeded. I think I’m there, but ran out of time yesterday to really test it.

Doing this kind of brain-intensive work is quite challenging in the context of working in the House. I don’t look like an artist to most people, who find themselves in my space (“More artist studios THIS WAY —>>”) and think they have bungled into a private office. That’s a little awkward, so I do what I can to be welcoming and to explain to those who ask what I’m up to. Many come to see the wonderful aspect from this lovely room as well as the fabulous Bauhaus built-in cupboards. I’ve been surprised at how many people have opined that “it’s lovely, but I could never live in a house like this”. I’d kill (well, perhaps not, but you understand the turn of phrase) to live in a house like this. It’s airy and light and a think of beauty. Potentially cold in the winter, yes, but nevertheless it’s a house that is an object of beauty unlike so so many domestic constructions in this country, and anywhere else I’ve been. I think of continental Europe – the Netherlands in particular – where simple house design just seems so much more concerned with aesthetic and where simple, clean design etches its lines on the immediate landscape. I will have to ask, one day, when someone says this in my studio. What, I wonder, is it that they are objecting to? Why could they not imagine themselves living there? Curiouser and curiouser.

Back to the coding.