Back in February I was part of the Processing Community Day global celebration – a team of us organised a Bristol node to the global network of people sharing ideas at the intersection of art, code and education. I have made this post to share our process – the good practice, the workshop details, the funding, and the failures! Please let me know if you have any questions -firstname.lastname@example.org. I was prompted to organise a Processing community day in Bristol because I am really interested in the educational dimension to processing, and how its foundation in arts has produced a programming language that people can learn with. I am also inspired by how the foundation are active in welcoming new people to the community – especially through multiple ways of approaching code – multiple access points and modes of getting involved. I signed up for the Processing community day after hearing about it on twitter, I wanted to expand the network here in Bristol through this kind of welcoming approach, and connect with people by coming together in person at an event. It was a lot of fun and very rewarding, I made some great new friends too! We had a big team and so decided to design the event around lots of activities. We could have had just talks, or just a workshop, and scaled back a bit if we didn’t have so many people contributing.
Name of event: PCD @ Bristol: “You Make the Rules”
Date: 9 February 2019
Venue: Framework (day) and Cube Microplex (night)
Organising team: Becca Rose Glowacki, Martha King, Rod Dickinson, Dave Webb, Coral Manton, Claire Morely, Pete Bennett, James Wood, Ellie Foreman, Alice Haynes, Luke Sweeny, Steve Battle
We split PCD into two parts over two venues – a daytime event at Framework, a co-working space in the center of Bristol, and an evening performance at Cube cinema just outside the centre. The daytime event was a mix of workshops, drop-in making activities, and space for individual play/reading. The evening was a performance.
We started to plan the event by having monthly meetings at a café (our first meeting was in September 2018). Most people would come to meetings, but we’d also keep notes on a shared google folder. From January had weekly meetings, as there was a lot more to discuss and do. The design of the event was a result of discussion at meetings. Because we had 12 people in the organising team, there were a lot of ideas, and a number of different perspectives and visions. The programme emerged through weaving these ideas into a cohesive thread that made sense as an event. Initially we had much bigger plans and wanted to hold satellite workshops in community spaces / have an exhibition / host talks and more, but as it got closer to the event we realised that we needed to scale back. Working within our time-frame and moderate budget defined a lot of what we could actually do.
Day event @ Framework
Friday 8th (night before) – Drop-off equipment. We had access to a secure storage space for the kit
Day event @ Framework
11:00 – Set-up
12:30- Doors open, front of house at the door included a welcome, GDPR info, and photography forms
13:00-14:00 – Processing with potatoes, beginner workshop aimed at children 7+.
15:00-16:00 – Live coding workshop music with Gibber, intermediate workshop aimed at young people and adults age 14+
Zine making, generate a tiny physical magazine using visual coding.
Interactive sketches, several sketches made in process on display that people could play with
Art recipe, fluxus inspired art making using algorithm and craft
Programmatic drawing and coding with robots, beginner workshop or drop in. Age 5+
Vinyl cutting, making stickers with the vinyl cutter. Age 7+.
Library area, books and podcasts on interactive arts.
16:30 – Doors close. Pack up and head over to the Cube
Evening event @ Cube
17:30 – Sound check
19:30 – Doors open
19:45 – Live code act I (Ron Hernandez and Leon Trimble)
20:15 – Projecting sketches. Project sketches from call out
20:45 – Live code act II (Coral Manton and Joanna Armitage)
21:45 – Music in bar
23:00 – Close
Pick-up kit. We left some of the kit at Framework in a secure place
We had access to the following resources:
People and their networks
People found out how to get involved in a number of ways:
Immediate network, via an email inviting people we knew to participate
Online/extended network through a short google form for people to either get involved, or add any comments about what they might want (if they did not want to get involved)
Processing foundation network, people found us through the day.procssing.org website, we added the google form to this.
We were a relatively big team (12 of us), this meant that not only were people able to plan and design the event, but also the team was also able to expand the organisation through their networks. This meant that we had an inbuilt marketing team – spreading the word far and wide, and had a lot of ways to connect with venues and funding sources. People in the organising team gave their time, networks, and shared skills / knowledge.
Tech (laptops / robotos / vinyl cutter)
In the process of organizing we developed a partnership with Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), who supported us in a number of ways, including lending us the tech we needed to run the sessions – laptops, robots, vinyl cutter and mac pros for the event.
KWMC also supported us with marketing – one of their marking team designed a publicity flyer, and they publicized the event through their networks. We also had their support with housekeeping – GDPR forms, and capturing some of the data from people who came.
We had some funding from University of West England (UWE). Three of the organiser team worked at UWE and they could apply for small internal outreach grants. We were allocated a total of £700, but only ended up using ~£650 which paid for printing flyers, performers in the evening, the day venue, and pizza for all the volunteers.
In terms of technical resources we used google docs a lot – it was where we saved meeting notes and the event schedule. I am aware that there are other document sharing platforms that are open source (such as etherpad.net or Riot) however google was most accessible for our group.
We used eventbrite for ticket sales. The evening was ticketed at a low cost of £5. The day time was free, but we had a sign up to keep track of numbers. In hindsight we would have used Headfirst a local event app (Bristol only) that charges a lower booking fee, and lists the events in local networks – it is also import to me that we support local activity.
We made a website using github pages – which is free, but has a terrible URL (www.artbristolcode.github.io/site – – -> not so catchy!). Next year I would use www.glitch.me to host a site – a much more inspiring name, and a lot easier to use. The site was static html / css with some P5 embedded. The design of the site was distributed among the group.
We started meeting in a cafe/bar – but this was quite noisey. A few of the team were a member at the Pervasive Media Studio, and through this had access to a meeting space – this was very useful as it could accommodate a large group and was accessible.
Both venues were found through contacts of the organising team. Because of this we were given discounted rate for hire for both venues. We looked at some other venues but there were too costly.
We were able to offer the following resources to participants:
Participants had access to:
Laptops / computers
Library / podcasts
Our biggest challenge was securing a venue. Initially we wanted to have both day and evening events in one venue. However, as we got closer to the event realised that this would not be possible. We confirmed the Cube for a night venue in December 2018, but we still didn’t have any where suitable for workshops and drop-in events (there is not a great deal of space at the Cube for this). It got a bit stressful towards the end, but we finally confirmed Framework, as a day venue in mid-January (less than a month before kick-off!).
~ A large organizing team brings lots of different ideas, skills, knowledge, and their own networks to the planning and design of the event
~ Being open to what works for Bristol. People wanted crafty workshops, zines, and algoraves, this may not suit every city, but it suited us.
~ A range of different activities – quiet space / playful / reflective zines / hands on making / screen based / performance
~ Partnering with KWMC – their knowledge and resources made a huge difference
What would we have done differently?
~ Secure a venue earlier – it got a but hairy towards the end, without knowing where we would host the event
~ Programme the event for later in the year (~April – June). A lot of people and businesses are off between mid Dec – mid Jan, because so much closes down for the holidays. We lost around a month right before the event, and we didn’t have a lot of time when we got back from holidays to do the final planning.
~ Only have one venue. It was a lot more work moving kit between the venues, and there was also a lot more logistics to work through.
~ Make the event fully accessible. The Cube cinema is a volunteer run cooperative cinema, and they are not fully accessible. We had a lot of issues trying to secure a venue, but with more time next year we would make sure that both day and evening are fully accessible.
~ Look to expanding our network to different communities
~ Use different resources such as glitch.me for the website, Headfirst for ticketing
~ Partner with a venue, and work with them in the programming and design stages
We promoted the event through:
A5 printed flyers
These were designed by the marketing team at KWMC, and distributed around Bristol. Link to PDF of flyer: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UCOuGAAlT4fuyStidgQ_cY_sw0wW-myh/view?usp=sharing
We used the website to have all the information (www.artbristolcode.github.io/site).
We made a facebook event for both day and night. Link to Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/You-Make-The-Rules-Creative-Coding-Bristol-291955718173517/
Word of mouth
We made a tab in our main spreadsheet used to record were / who people were going to promote the event to. Because there were 12 of us, we managed to cover a lot of people and places in and around Bristol. KWMC was also active in promoting on twitter.
The daytime was free, but we did have a sign up so we could get an idea of how many people might show.
The evening was £5/ £4(concession). We had a good deal on the evening venue, but under the condition that we would make money for the cinema – they are a volunteer run cooperative, so don’t have the means to run events for free and they took a bit of a risk on us. All the proceeds from the door (a total of ~£300 went to the venue). We sold 55 tickets in advance, and the rest of the tickets were sold on the door.
To give you an idea of the event here are some pictures. All images can also be viewed / downloaded from the link below. Unless stated, photo credits go to Henry Webb and Jonah Nurse, please see document for image credits.
Breakdown of expenses
This gives you an idea for how much it costs to host a PCD. Bearing in mind that we had a lot of resources and labour in-kind (see above)
Budget total – £631
Framework venue hire – £125
Evening artists + travel – £400
Flyers – £46
Pizza for volunteers and artists – £60
Who attended our event?
Families and young people – an introduction to process. A lot of the activities were off screen, and so there was the opportunity to learn and play with code, but in multiple modes.
Artists – connecting to people through the event, and also having the opportunity to make work with code / tech (especially if coming from a more analogue or non-technical background)
Technologists – connecting to people through the event, and also having the opportunity to make work with arts (especially if more engineering and non-arts background)
Workshop Tutorials and Code
Processing with Potatoes
People were invited to make images with potato prints (because: we love potato printing). They then had the opportunity to make their images in code using with P5. We used the webeditor for this which worked really well as it is forgiving for little mistakes such as missing a semicolon here or there. The workshop was 1 hour, but some people stayed a little longer to carry on making.
Potatoes – cut up into circles, squares, rectangles, ovals, and (optional – advanced) triangles
Ink – rubber stamp ink works best, in a range of colours
Quick reference for P5 shapes is also useful (such as https://p5js.org/examples/hello-p5-simple-shapes.html)
P5 webeditor https://editor.p5js.org/
Newspaper or cover to protect tables (it gets messy)
Make potato prints based on something relevant such as (for us) drawing the plants in the space.
Show the group how the editor works – change background, draw shape, add fill etc.
Start to make drawings in P5
To expand this could introduce some interactivity or movement (but we didn’t get round to this in 1 hour)
[image of child editing P5 code, and design on laptop next to a paper with potato prints of similar design]
Workshop credit: Becca Rose Glowacki and Steve Battle
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A way of making a fold out zine with process – the sketch generates a PDF that can be printed and kept. It also prints out the code. We ran this as a drop-in workshop, but could also be a more guided session, which could last between 1-2 hours.
[to follow] code for printing the zine
Introduction to Processing
How to use image function / objects
How to print the zine
[image of a Mac, on the screen there is a repeat pattern design of a snake and letters “sss”]
Workshop credit: James Wood and Claire Morely
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Inspired by fluxus instruction art, we developed a drop-in zine session where people created an algorithm to make a zine.
Lay out the blank zines and materials, and let people make.
[image of someone holding a DIY art recipe zine. Zine has six hand written steps, and a surreal drawing of a smiley face with four eyes, tears and a leaf]
Workshop credit: Pete Bennett
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Live coding music
The other workshop was using, and aimed at people with more experience. Gibber is a programme for live audio and visuals. The workshop was paired with a performance in the evening.
[image of a woman coding at a laptop, and a man in the background at a laptop]
Workshop credit: Coral Manton and Ellie Foreman
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Call out for sketches
Inviting people to make sketches with processing, we had a 7-8 entries. We projected these in the bar at the evening event. Link to the call out info https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gjUmc7UX9VYXRcdHSnLW6IU5BpCjsOB6l6akOKAyfg4/edit?usp=sharing