Art and tech in harmony with micro:bit

The June 2019 issue of educators’ magazine Hello World focuses on art and technology, and includes a feature on how micro:bit is right at the centre of the intersection of these two worlds. The BBC micro:bit is the perfect tool for this as it can be coded in a familiar block-environment, allowing pupils to get quick results using its built-in sensors and LED displays, yet it contains a micro-controller that can be used in more sophisticated ways with external sensors, displays and even building networks of interactive art.

In the article we showcase the work of three artists, a designer and a teacher who use micro:bit in their work.

Sam Topley: yarn-bombing with tech


Sam Topley is a musician, maker and community artist from Leicester, UK. She crafts bright and colourful sound artwork, including giant pompom musical instruments, knitted ‘yarn-bombed’ loudspeakers and electronic instruments with interactive textile interfaces which are used in sensory-classroom contexts. Sam uses the radio and accelerometer functions of the micro:bit in her 'Playground' interactive sound art project, where giant textile balls make sound and music as they are played together.

Sam is a doctoral researcher (PhD) at the Music, Technology and Innovation – Institute for Sonic Creativity at De Montfort University, where she also lectures in experimental music technology and community arts practice. Her website is http://www.samantha-topley.co.uk

Sean Clark: finding algorithms in art and getting connected

Also based in Leicester where he runs the Interact Digital arts practice, Sean Clark also works as an international professor at Guangdong University of Technology in China; he uses micro:bit alongside Scratch at workshops for students to discover and recreate the algorithms in traditional art. He uses micro:bit to make artworks that are brought to life through interactivity, responding to sound and movement.

Sean is also developing artThings, tools for creating internet-connected artworks using the simple MQTT protocol, including a gateway for micro:bit. He’s looking for help on this open source project: https://github.com/seancuttlefish/artthings

Digital art is older than you might think: it pre-dates acrylic paint! Sean is working with the Computer Arts Society on a retrospective event at the Royal College of Art in London in July 2019.

Vahakn Matossian and Taline Temizian: augmenting fine art

Vahakn Matossian is a British-Armenian-German designer who has been working in the realms of interactive art and design for a number of years. Taline Temizian is an artist whose work offers a trans-humanist perspective on memory and trauma. They collaborated on an exhibition called ‘Networking Serendipities’ in which Vahakn augmented Taline’s work using micro:bit-controlled technology.

Stu Lowe: art meets tech in the classroom

Stu Lowe is educational technology and innovation specialist at Beacon Hill School in Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter to see more about his inspirational maker-centred lessons which have children tinkering and building with a wide range of technology, from recycled cardboard and plastic junk through to computers and micro:bits.

Read more in Hello World

The print edition of Hello World is free to UK-based educators, and electronic copies can be downloaded for free from https://helloworld.raspberrypi.org

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