Bio-Fi: DIY Data Hijacking by Matt Kenyon and Doug Easterly

Date: 25 July 2008
Venue: Republic Polytechnic
Time: 9.00am – 3.00pm
Workshop Capacity: 15 persons
Registration Fee: Non-delegates - $120 per person; For ISEA2008 Delegates - $40 per person


This Workshop is designed as a hands-on workshop that combines data mining and data visualization expressly for the creation of works of art.

The workshop will be broken into two modules in order to cover the hardware, software and principles in depth.


The first module (Data Mining) will introduce the participants to real-time data mining using the Internet and object oriented PHP spider scripting. All participants, even those with little or no experience with the programming, will be instructed in the production of custom software applications that mine the World Wide Web for specific data. This data may take the form of: Congressional or Parliamentary votes, real-time environmental statistics, news aggregates or even Internet search fields. Workshop participants will take their custom data mining applications into the second workshop module where this real-time data will be given form and expression via physical computing methodologies.

The second module (Tangible Output) will use wearable computing, cell phones, physical/audio actuators and custom lighting elements to give visual, visceral and tangible presence to the real-time data from the first module. Using popular open source physical computing resources (Arduino, Processing, Pure Data) workshop participants will construct wearable computing appliances that will explore the poetics and politics of data visualization.

Schedule of Events

Data Mining
• Welcome message, short introduction of organizers as well as all participants.
• Introduction to tools and processes for Data Mining for Artists.
• How to: Data Mining for Artists.
• Break.
• Closing notes, review and discussion of data mining outcomes.

Tangible Output
• Welcome message, short introduction of organizers as well as all participants
• Introduction to tools and processes for tangible output
• How to: Tangible Output
• Break
• Final touches, review and discussion of individual outcomes.

Materials and Tools

In the data mining module you will be working with Anthracite a user-friendly object-oriented programming environment. Example code and software tools will be provided.

In the Tangible Output module you will have the opportunity to program an Arduino microcontroller for physical computing applications as well as several types of visual and tangible display technologies. Example code, circuits and wearable computing devices will be provided.

Bring with You
You will probably want to bring a notebook. If you have a laptop computer that you would like to use (MacOS, Windows), please bring it with you – we will provide all needed software, hand tools and miscellaneous electronics.


Participants will gain an understanding of the processes of tangible and physical computing by experimenting with real-time data mining (pulling data from the web, processing data, and affecting the world). The participants will get a better understanding of how the body, context and physical actions affect our interactions with real-world/real-time data spaces. Actual working prototypes will be constructed in this workshop and may take the form of custom wearable computing devices, screen based data visualizations and standalone kinetic data actuators.


The physical computing methodologies explored in this workshop are pulled directly from SWAMP artists Matt Kenyon and Doug Easterly’s studio practice. This workshop is most recent in a series of physical computing workshops by Doug Easterly and Matt Kenyon they presented several one-day workshops on this theme at the Guerilla Studio Siggraph in 2005.

Douglas Easterly

Douglas Easterly was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, United States. Earning a B.A. and M.F.A in painting, he is self-taught in terms of new media skills. His work stems from interests and research regarding genetics, information theory, cybernetics, evolution, procedural art, emergence theory and popular culture. This work ranges from performance art, video, installation, multimedia, web art and programming. Currently he is an Assistant Professor at Victoria University of Wellington where he teaches programming and multimedia in the department of Architecture and Design.

Matthew Kenyon

Matthew Kenyon was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States and has a M.F.A in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is interested in the convergence of art, emerging technologies and popular culture. Many of his recent works feature wearable computing technologies and robotics as a means for making cultural critique. Matt currently is an Assistant Professor of New Media at Penn State University where he teaches physical computing, game art and 3D animation.

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