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BSM 3 – App Geekery

This is my main work area. Or should be. The debris of summer has ruined it slightly, and being the lazy individual I am the thought of tidying even this small amount makes my fight or flight instinct choose to side with “shirk”. The main downside of not tidying is that I’ve transferred my working to my laptop and now I like to lie on my bed against the wall and work. This however has DESTROYED my back. So all I have to show for summer is no tan, a lot of data and a bad back. It also means that my G5 is now relegated to grunt work batch processing images and rendering video. All of the additional software and processing I need (that isn’t video editing or the modular stuff to run the installations) is available now on my iPhone. That’s what I want to tell you about in this blog.

“Yes. No. Maybe. Definitely. Not a chance. Perhaps. Erm… GO!”
a typical morning before an installation

Apparently my life now revolves around weather forecasts, cloud graphs, topography, star charts, and maps. Lots of maps. In an attempt to keep up to date with when I can do these installations and get good results it means my eyes are constantly glued to weather websites and my phone. Especially useful is the Met Office app that carries great cloud data information (can’t get impressive installations from uniformly grey skies!). The iPhone’s own weather app doesn’t carry anywhere near the same level of information, and tends to be far too optimistic when it approximates the weather for the day. It’d be great if you could access the BBC site on an iPhone but the cloud data graphs run in flash so that’ll never happen.

However my favorite new mobile app (and also for your mac or PC) is Stellarium. It offers you the all the information on sun, star constellation, time and compass points you could ever need in a lovely 3D interface that allows you to see all the necessary angles you could want. And it’s free! Much love to it creators and developers for creating such a lovely piece of software. Yes this thing is pretty niché but for a project like this it cannot be beat. It can’t predict weather or the environment at the location you chose but it means with a compass (or even the one on my phone) I can turn up at a location and aim the installation at the correct angle depending what time of day I’m planning for rather than just an approximation like it used to be.

Obviously in addition to these more specific apps are those that every man and his dog has but are still worth an honorable mention. It goes without saying that the google earth app is marvelous, and offers a great level of detail regarding the layout of… well… the entire earth. For me its incredibly handy for finding those hidden paths and dirt tracks to save me breaking my back hiking up hills and through rivers with a lot electronics. The great thing is it’s integration with your google account and how markers can be passed from one to the other. When you’re doing location-based sonic art what else could you ask for?!

Finally honorable mention needs to go to Vimeo‘s app. It’s got a lot of bad press but it works a treat for me. Their 3G implementation works really well and it allows me to check where my progress is with the batch stuff I mentioned above. Their uploader app is also amazingly handy, if not a little slow but when you’ve got task scheduled to run while you sleep time isn’t really off the essence.

As far as sonic art goes there are a lot of interesting apps doing stuff with generative music (Brian Eno’s Bloom is the template for most) but nothing that’s really wowing the world yet. Next time I decide to geek out to this degree it’ll be looking at modular audio environments. But in the meantime I should hopefully be completing the modal instructional map for this project and it’ll be up and available to buy.

See you soon!

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Latest Installation Audio

Sunshine Machine 10 //
01/10/11 //
07:04 - 07:13 //
Home, Northwest, UK //

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