Our Graphic Design students were visited by artist and researcher Lee Nutbean as part of their interactive project – Teach Me, Learn Me, Promote Me.
Lee is an interactive artist working at the interdisciplinary intersections of art and participation, across academia, research and the creative industries.
He is currently completing a PhD to explore the potential of smart networked technologies – topically described as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) – to map and evaluate the movement and relationships of people and resources across geographically distributed communities.
“This workshop with Lee will hopefully open our students minds to the interactive world and how technology can be used in design,” said Andy Way, BA (Hons) Graphic Design lecturer.
Lee had an artist residency at Plymouth artspace KARST last year and also took part in Tate’s Hackathon – where he worked through the night in the famous Turbine Hall to make a piece of digital art using data.
His current project entitled “Zeeeeup: A fist full of dollars” is a wireless flock of electronic birds that contain a variety of bespoke sonic and sensing communication technologies. The word Zeeeeup is a descriptive term for a robins call - and references the projects low cost, hacked manufacture approach.
“I found it exciting looking at how design is used. Lee’s work is not paper based, its not digital, its this whole other level," said Allie Couch, Year Two Graphic Design student.
Lee explained, “The robins playfully respond in both chorus and light to public interaction.
“Perched on traffic lights, garden fences, within urban trees and parks, these small electronic interventions interact through the mundane to reveal a hybrid layer of ambient intelligence. That waits patiently for public engagement.”
The visit involved a one hour talk from Lee about his work ethos and current projects followed by a workshop, with students making the interactive robins which they could place around the college or keep for themselves.
“I found it exciting looking at how design is used. Lee’s work is not paper based, its not digital, its this whole other level.
“It’s physical and interactive, it speaks to you. And its not stereotypical of usual graphic design,” explained Allie Couch, student on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme.
The level of interactions with the robotic birds vary, from curiosity to physically interaction, with Lee describing how one of them was attacked by a magpie!
“The robins are a cool way of using technology that is low-tech to make interactive objects,” says Lee.
Jamie Wynn, BA (Hons) Graphic Design student said: “It’s good to have an external source viewpoint as they interact with the industry and are often collaborating with really interesting artists, which is always cool to hear about.”
The day resulted in the students placing their robins in the trees outside of the college as a flock, with the hope that they will start chirping away to passers-by.
“The interactive flock works well in its location at Plymouth College of Art and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the graphic design students today," said Lee.
“They were attentive and fully engaged in the workshop with questions, collaboration and enthusiasm.
"It was an absolute pleasure, and I would gladly return at any opportunity in the future.”