A flyaround movie

I thought that while we had all the spec for the new longhill seat in a 3D app, i might as well animate it.

LongSeat-movie-desktop.m4v Watch on Posterous

Reposted from Rattlebag

Revised Design for Longhill Seating

This is my latest iteration of the design for Longhill School's new seating object or Longseat.
The design has been changed a lot, but now it is ready for us to start making it - although have drawn the thing so many times now I feel like I have already made it. The upside is that just like riding a bike, I now am completely at one with my 3D software, the downside is that I begin to wonder how to go about meshing, extruding, metaballing or even doing some boolean functions on most household objects - I'm sure it will wear off. Anyway here are the images.
Reposted from Rattlebag


I have been working on producing a video tutorial on making treehouses for the new startup website out of the Oxford Garden School.
And today the site went live.
The site is called MyGardenSchool and it offers online classes on every aspect of gardening; including making treehouses.
As a tutor for the online school I have even got my own classroom - very peculiar, but quite intriguing too.
The classes start at the end of each month and I am curious to see how many people enroll - could this be my pension?
I have relatively high hopes about this, mainly because it is the work of Duncan Heather and Elspeth Briscoe (of early Ebay and Skype development fame).
Apart from anything it has been fun re-writing the book that I made for Ivy Press some years ago (which has just been republished in New York - why didn't I go for royalties?) not to mention the 200 illustrations that I had to knock out for the 2 hours of video (it was either that or make yet another free treehouse for someone).
here are some of my illustrations.
Reposted from Rattlebag

Longhill School Gathering place

The Longhill School gathering place is a project that I have been working on for several months. It began life as a creative partnership project that sought to engage a group of students with the environment of their school. Last year was spent deriving designs and isolating needs. Now that the project is coming to maturity the student originated design is being honed into a workable solution that takes into account the vagaries of the site. and the need to produce a finished product quickly.
Following the last meeting for the Longhill School gathering place I have fleshed out the design a bit more: 
1 found a more appropriate curve 
2 looked at some workable planter options 
3 considered prices
The idea of integrating the need for planters into the curve design, and the need to have no large inaccessible areas, helped to define the curve, as did the need for a planter by each column, and some larger planters in the main area for trees.
I have therefore broken the continuous line into four separate lines, each terminating in a planter.
Smaller planters by the columns, Larger planters in the main area.


At the covered walkway there is a need for planters, but the curved seat is not to extend here, therefore I have provided some ideas for simple seperate planters - based on the minimum of labour to construct them. these planters have yet to be arranged within the space adequately (issues of escape routes and crowd flow).

At the meeting it was decided to attempt a planter design that used the same tube construction as the rest of the scheme.
These involve bending the pipe to a loop then stacking the loops until the desired height is achieved.
The most common HDPE pipe is 63mm in diameter - the prefered planter height is circa 700mm
Therefore 11 loops stacked and bolted make a workable planter.
The stacked tube planter will be made rigid by filling the bottom 63mm (pipe height) with concrete.
an additional depth of vermiculite will be added - and the rest will be growing medium.
I have constructed a single loop to the minimum diameter that the pipe will follow, it is a simple, low tech process just the sort of thing that a large group of student helpers can deal with..

The preliminary cost of the planters based on 11 times loops of black HDPE pipe (63mm diameter SDR17) is as follows
a 1.6m diameter planter (4m of tube per hoop x 11 hoops) = 44m @ £4.44 per metre = £196.00
a 1.8m diameter planter (6m of tube per hoop x 11 hoops) = 66m @ £4.44 per metre = £294.00
these estimates do not include wastage, but as the entire structure uses the same material this can be offset.
nor do the costs include the bolts, concrete or vermiculite but these are minimal perhaps an additional £20 per planter.
Where these planters meet the seating structure, the rails for the seats become a continuation of one of the levels of tubing.
The estimated amount of 63mm tube for the entire track as shown in the image is 207m.
There will be costs for the 83 leg tubes which I expect to be significantly higher than the track (42m approx of 355mm pipe).
The rendered images that are attached have not yet had the variations in height added to them - the final version will undulate between 200mm high and 700mm high.
There is scope for cost savings - the height of the planters, and the average seating height, could be lowered.
The number of elements could be reduced.
Reposted from Rattlebag

Curation ~ Session two & Conclusion

The second session saw all of the students that missed the first session – therefore it was a very large group that bordered on problematic given the limitations of the space.

Exactly the same thing happened in the first room – a weighing up. Perhaps due to the success of the first session, we took the point were the students became relaxed enough to joke as a good sign to move on.

However in the next room it turned out that the humour was unfocused and that there was a tendency for things to get silly, without really exploring the issues.
It was the wrong dynamic for this lot, a reminder that in workshops a formula never works twice.

The third room was a surprise – although it was perhaps the least accessible set of images, the quieter students began to assert an interest in the idea of collection – because of this the group gels – ideas of collecting, and vernacular come pouring out. One student even admits to having a collection of  WW2 German bank statements, an admission that a few rooms ago would have been met with laughter – quite personal unguarded stuff begins to come out – this group are much more interested in the ‘meaning’ of what is portrayed with less of an emphasis on the formal aspects of the images.
Some very deep and satisfying conceptual discussions occur amongst a group that I would have not expected it from.

During this curation exercise the ‘exhibitions were  much more meaning based and literal than in the previous session – but this makes complete sense regarding the manner in which they engaged with the idea – rather than identifying formal aspects such as colour or linearity, this group organized work on the basis of gaze or ecological impact – as with the first group there was an underlying sophistication in the understanding of formal relationships between images, but these issues were not caught in the flow of discussion, instead a more journalistic concern with what was being said by the exhibition was explored.


Dealing with the issues surrounding the image, collection, exhibition and meaning was bound to be complex – these workshops found their own entry point into these subjects and developed them well, increasing knowledge and awareness – as well as making the link with curation as a profession that values these issues and makes them core skills on which to build a career.

Further workshops would ideally tackle the aspects of curation that didn’t arise organically from the group, so that the students would get a fuller understanding of all the associated concerns.

Reposted from Exegesis | Art, location & Culture

Curation ~ session one

The first of the workshop sessions involved a smaller group than was originally expected – due to "unforeseen" exams.

In the first room of the show the discussion was extremely awkward, with everyone weighing each other up and getting an idea of what was expected – we took great pains to prove that any comment was valid and that every observation was a good one – by the time we left that room we were all laughing.

Subsequent rooms saw a very spirited banter – like when friends enjoy commenting on a corny film by adding dialogue – during this banter it was easy to emphasise when sophisticated concepts had been touched upon and turn them into features, reinforcing them and challenging the students to enlarge upon them.

During the curation exercise all of the students showed extremely sophisticated judgement and a deep consciousness of the dynamics of both images and the way they are juxtaposed.
These students grasped the formal aspects of imagery off their own back – even identifying the difference between picture plane and image.

The shows that were curated seemed to concentrate on composition. Colour as a unifying theme emerged unbidden – as did playing with the difference between looking "into" and "at" an image.

Reposted from Exegesis | Art, location & Culture

The first curation workshops - a plan

There are many strange dynamics amongst workshop groups, it always takes a while to warm up, too rigid a plan can go horribly wrong, and the best experiences for all are to be had if everyone approaches the sessions as equals  – with schoolchildren this can be tricky, they are used to being the target of directed education, it can take them a while to realise that there is no ‘right or wrong’ in this situation and that their well honed avoidance techniques aren’t going to be needed.

The structure of the initial workshops placed an emphasis on the students themselves to decide: why they thought exhibitions happened, what a collection was, how they read images and sequences of images and what aspects of the exhibition influenced their reading of the work.

To begin with a very general, open ended discussion was encouraged where any comment was valued and elaborated upon – we made it clear that the group were defining their own rules for the subject. Whenever the subject  got close to a ‘traditional’ curatorial issue we would seed the discussion with tricks of the trade and watch the new information become normalised amongst the group. The discussion was very lively, and familiar – it became clear that the students were extremely sophisticated in the way that they analysed the visual, and had very clear opinions – that they were fully accustomed to critique, but had not seen it as having a constructive value. As they became aware that their familiar banter about what they are looking at was one of the main skills of the curator, the creative development of the subject took off. 

We purposefully allowed a good amount of time to relax into a flowing discussion, like any family gathered around a T.V. set might, with orchestration this chat covered such complex concepts as the flow of the eye into an image, the significator in an image and the way it varies between people, the form and the content of the photograph, implied narratives across unrelated images, the idea of a conscious collection and an inadvertent collection and how significances change within a collection.

By the time the discussions ended most of the students felt sufficient ownership of the subject to curate a collection for themselves – the next part of the workshop.

The students were presented with a very large number of random unrelated images ranging from a few classic art prints, through fairly ordinary stock photos of ‘interesting items’, to the discarded snaps from old rolls of film.

In small groups they were asked to select an unspecified number of images that made some (if any) sense to them and construct a quick exhibition on blank wall spaces in the gallery – adding, removing or changing images as they saw necessary – negotiating amongst themselves for agreement on what should be placed where.

Finaly the entire group was toured around these ‘new exhibitions’ and the creators were asked to explain their reasoning, this was followed with discussion and critique in a similar way to our exploration of the original show.

I should add that throughout the process an emphasis was laid on the quality of exploration rather than the slickness of the display skills, we all understood that this was an exhibition in principal, notes for an exhibition.

Reposted from Exegesis | Art, location & Culture

Curation ~ The skill and specialism of display.

Now that Longhill High School has a gallery there is a clear need to develop the skills and expertise required to make the most of it.

During the course of discussions with Lisa Finch at Fabrica it was decided to form a project in collaboration with LCP (Landscape Cities People) - a project that would allow students from Longhill to gain from Fabrica’s expertise as a successful international gallery.

For me this was a defining moment, we had wandered into the field of the curator and I suddenly realised that I had never heard of the subject being dealt with in school at all.
We would all be surprised if a school didn’t do ‘Art’ but we often take it to mean ‘making’ - when you consider that potentially more people make a living from curation, in one form or another, than do through making art, it seemed amazing that this seemed so radical.

As is always the case when you can suddenly see the whole picture, the birth of curator workshops in school seems like a necessity, rather than an experiment (perhaps for staff too).

Two initial workshops were arranged at Fabrica, to test the water with the students involved in the original discovery.
We were incredibly lucky to have stumbled across the notion of exploring curatorial skills at the same time as the photo biennial here in Brighton – even more so because Fabrica, our partner was host to an exhibition curated by Martin Parr the photographer called ‘House of the Vernacular’.

The exhibition consists of seven collections of vernacular photographs housed in a constructed environment of seven theatrically themed rooms. Each of the collections has a common subject or function, such as commercial images of litter bins, men wearing hats in Bogota, or dictators private jet interiors. In addition each collection has originated from outside of the ‘Art Photograph’ industry, some are found snapshots, some studio work, others collected for publication.

Being at Fabrica the exhibition has been wonderfully supported with all sorts of investigations, discussions and related events, the staff and volunteers continually discuss aspects of the show, exploring with professional interest (it is an artist led gallery)  - against this background I felt more than confident that we could approach ideas of curation with an open mind and let the students find the meat of the subject.

Reposted from Exegesis | Art, location & Culture

How the curation project was born

Longhill High school, in conjunction with Fabrica Gallery, LCP and Creative Partnerships has begun the first steps in a ground breaking initiative that will perhaps change the way we consider both school environments and the students relationship with the display of work.

Until now most schools, almost purposefully present a clinical institutionalised environment for the staff and students to operate within. In many cases it is difficult to identify the difference between a public hospital, government office or a school – except perhaps by the types of warning messages that are displayed.

Images of corridors - hospital, childrens home, 2 prisons, 2 schools (final shot is longhill)


This Spartan approach to the interiors of schools appears to have come about by default, rather than through any considered strategy, as if a puritan rejection of all things decorative will in some way by default lead to an improvement in the learning environment. This attitude is one that has been questioned and found lacking, to good effect in some more enlightened workplaces. Bearing in mind that school is where life skills are gained and attitudes are first formed, it seems even more crucial that an awareness of the effects of environment and context are considered, and acted upon for the benefit of schoolchildren in the short term, and society in general in the longer term.

At Longhill High School the students themselves identified the issue of the dismal environment in schools almost by accident, during a detour from a project to refurbish a newly covered playground. We decided to follow the detour for a while and look into the question of display throughout the school, what it brought to the learning environment and students attitudes to it.

In part, responses to the quality and content of the schools display strategy, or lack of it, were influenced by a single new occurrence in the school. A new year 11 canteen had been built, it was furnished with modern well designed and interesting furniture and fittings, the walls were painted in colours and there were several posters framed upon the walls.
Without exception the students recognised this room as one that confirmed their maturity, aesthetic intelligence and more realistically portrayed the world they occupied outside of school. Even those who were not yet old enough to enter the canteen recognised the enlightening effect it had on the school just by its presence. One student even noticed that the time seemed less oppressive on a blue faced clock, than on the standard uniform white ones.
But the factor that was to give us most food for thought were the posters, these where A0 art prints that you might find in a print gallery, and were carefully chosen to have broad appeal, yet without referring directly to anything that smacked of curriculum.

These prints triggered a student led critique of the rest of the schools imagery and displays, one that was eye-opening, if a little brutal at times.
Briefly, the key observations on the school as a whole were:

  • Existing display is limited to a variety of  large soft-board panels fixed to the walls around the corridors.
  • Display panels are shoddy and untidy – some are decorated with church fete like signage and frills.
  • Staff attempts to ‘brighten up’ display boards are reminiscent of kindergarten (primary colours, clipart cartoons etc).
  • Only schoolwork is ever displayed on them – often for so long no-one remembers who did the work.
  • Students work, unless of an exceptional standard, never sets as high aspirational goals as professional images/displays would.
  • Other students work is more often annoying or embarrassing than interesting.
  • Essays make appallingly dull display (text in general too).
  • Staff seem to feel obliged to represent curriculum subjects on display boards, but are seldom creative about it (portraits of great men).
  • Some staff cannot produce displays that match the visual literacy of the majority of students.

Some students felt the display boards were actually aimed at parents and visitors – to demonstrate the standard of work expected by staff, rather than to inspire and stimulate students on a daily basis.

There was minimal need for active notice boards, for timetabling notices etc, what space remained was generally dealt with poorly.

Classrooms however were felt to be much better considered as environments for learning, and that many teachers created interesting and inspiring rooms.

Corridors were often treated as a sort of no-mans-land of un-adopted passageways between subjects, yet these are the spaces students inhabit between subjects.

The result of these rather unexpected discoveries is that Longhill High School is developing a strategy to address display within the schools corridors. This strategy is experimental, it approaches how display is achieved in the school from two directions:

  1. Physical issues – the design and location of display sites. The effect on the common-ways of new display areas and strategies.
  2. Practical issues – the skill and specialism of providing excellent displays and understanding its impact.

The Design & location of display sites.
As part of the Creative Partnerships Change Schools Project the students developed an innovative strategy for making the schools display more intriguing and professional.
All existing soft-board ‘notice-boards were removed, and during the summer refit a large number of lockable clip frames were installed.
These new frames were arranged in all corridors and stairways in sequences more like a galleries display than the old ‘scout-hut’ approach.
The frames themselves can be loaded from the front, covered with a non-reflective ‘glass’ and locked, giving the appearance of a framed work.

The school has now got its own extensive, 300 frame gallery, in what not so long ago was clinical corridor ...

Reposted from Exegesis | Art, location & Culture

Low Orbit Ion Cannon with Hivemind (LOIC)

In the last few days a new phenomenon has occurred, technology has met the needs of the individual to take direct political action in a new and powerful way. Take one look at @op_payback #payback @anonops #anonops @anon_operations or any combination of them on twitter and the sheer extent of activity is amazing, better still follow it all by going to http://collecta.com/#q=%23payback
Until this week any civil society with a bone to pick, or a cause to stand for has had to march to protest, send letters or risk unpredictable direct action. Our democracies have grown up relying on the powerlessness of individuals, setting the hoops for organised opposition to jump through, ensuring that the debate is always in the dialect of the state, expressed in ways that don't disrupt the status quo too much.
The Wikileaks issue is on the face of it all about freedom of information, the response by governments has been the usual mix of denial, coercion, diplomatic negotiation and financial sanction. Whether or not this is the right course of action is debatable, as is the validity of the accusations levelled at Julian Assange himself, but these debates have almost become irrelevant compared to the big story, one that possibly rivals the Dreyfus affair or Watergate in magnitude. I use those two examples because they share common ground with the events of December 2010 'DDos Day'.
By an ironic twist we see a press that is frightened for its role amidst online competition, actually mis-reporting events that concern its most sacred mantra 'freedom of the press' (see Watergate). At the same time we have governments that have failed to grasp the changes that an online society will increasingly demand from it and we watch them seriously underestimate the sophistication of public opinion regarding the matter.
Until now governments could afford to wage a slow campaign to restore public opinion, using a discrediting strategy and eroding groundswell support until it was negligible, a lumbering technique, but a time honoured one, that ensures success provided the peeved masses have no immediate access to power. The problem governments face today is that the masses can move far, far quicker than the machines of state can handle, and they have found a unique, rich source of power, simple immediate communication.
So it is that a small group of people, familiar with the internet, made an existing online tool available, LOIC (Low Orbital Ion Cannon) is an open source software application that allows for streams of data to be focused at a chosen host. At some point a control was added (called Hivemind), that allows the choice of host, or target, to be got from an external source.
Both of these are legitimate applications, a communication tool, and a peer to peer networking tool, combined they make a basic tool for running DDos (Distributed Denial of service) attacks, that can be told its target from the internet.
The effect of this synthesis of two existing mainstream applications was that anyone capable of installing microsoft word on their computer, could use it, and the worlds first app of civil disobedience was born.
With the Wikileaks issue being such a buzz on the social networks it didn't take long for news to spread that anyone could, if they wished, protest directly by uploading and installing "LOIC with Hivemind". By December the 9th 300,000 people had done so.
At this stage The Press were still reporting that a small group of hackers were causing trouble, when in effect it was a sizeable section of the public that were responsible for the sustained attacks on Paypal, MasterCard etc. Targets that were popularly identified with exerting pressure on Wikileaks to stop.
It is useful for the villains to be a 'small' group of nasty 'hackers' because they can be marginalised and hunted, in the hope that the true extent of public dissatisfaction with their governments behaviour doesn't become widely known. However the mechanism and the tool is now out there, it will become more sophisticated as time progresses, and it will probably become a mainstream method of protest. I can see it now, version 8 of Microsoft Riot. Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain, the time when governments held the key to democratic voice is passing, the sooner they recognise that they have to put their money where their mouth is, and use the internet as a truly democratic tool, the better.
There is a certain poetic in this whole affair; the freedom of information that Wikileaks is championing, and most states are attempting to silence, is the same medium that is growing exponentially with social networks on the web, and has enabled this form of civil disobedience ~ ironically, it is data itself, that is being used as a projectile to cripple the targets.
The trusted weapon of governments, financial sanctions, is precisely the same weapon that the protesters have used, but there is one big difference, none of those protesting are financial entities, nor is Wikileaks, they have far less to lose than the businesses and governments that are facing the disapproval of the public.

My sculptures from the sky | flypast on Google Earth

Quite a lot of the sculptures that I have made over the years are large enough to be visible from Google earth.

While trying to get these screengrabs of them from above I noticed that you can make flypast tours with Google Earth, so I made one, of all of my work that can be seen from Google Earth (or Google maps).
Have a lightning tour if you fancy...
Just open this file in Google Earth.
Click here to download:
David Parfitt's sculptures.kmz (4 KB)
Alternatively you can click this link to see them in Google Maps, but you won't get the flypast tour, and the images are grotty.