The Future Extensions Art Lab 延伸未来实验室

School of Art and Design
GuangDong University of Technology, China

The FE Art Lab (延伸未来实验室) is based in the School of Art and Design at GuangDong University of Technology (GDUT) in China. The Lab undertakes research into the creative uses of computer technology in education, business and the arts.

Sean Clark became an International Professor in the School of Art and Design at GDUT in 2017 and is working with Professors Yi Ji and Xiaoying Tang to help develop the FE Art Lab's teaching and profile. This page documents some of the work he has been involved in.

Conferences

July 2019 - EVA London

In July 2019 the FE Art Lab participated in the EVA London 2019 conference at the BCS in London. Our involvement was focussed around a set of activities on Wednesday 10th July. In the afternoon Sean Clark chaired a session of presentations by Chinese researchers and people involved in research in China. The speakers were:

Eugenia Kim: Ghost in the Virtual Reality - Translating the human essence with motion-captured dance
Eugenia Kim and Feixuan Xu: Bringing the Tangible into the Virtual - preserving the human-silkworm collaboration
Yisi Xue, Yarong Deng and Junming Liang: An interactive display form for Chines ink and wash painting*
Ting Liang and Xiaoying Tang: YUE Virtual Park - Multi-sensory cultural products
Huan Fan: The New "Theatricality" in Performance and Media Arts*

* = GDUT Students

In the evening we then hosted a panel session with short talks and discussion from Yi Ji, Ernest Edmonds, Ian Wilcock, Nick Lambert, Biin Shen and Sean Clark. There was also a small exhibition of work from GDUT students and UK artists, who have worked extensively in China, Genetic Moo.

Workshops

Each four-week course involves two workshops per week plus self-directed learning out of hours. The focus so far has been on teaching computer programming and digital-making skills to undergraduate and masters students. Students are typically studying an arts or design subject and are expected to combine their existing skills with those learnt during the workshops.

April 2017 - Creative Programming 1

The first one-month workshop programme introduced creative technology skills to a Chinese student cohort. I selected topics from my UK teaching work. This included Scratch, Arduino and Processing, and I prepared teaching resources on all three. However, when it came to the actual teaching, I focussed on purely Scratch and Arduino. The workshop was delivered in English and students we pre-selected to have basic English skills. Also, translators were present.

November 2017 - Creative Programming 2

The second month-long teaching was similar to the first, but BBC Micro:bit was substituted for Arduino. Students spent two weeks learning Scratch and then moved on to the Micro:bit Blocks environment. Again, English was the primary workshop language, but both Scratch and Blocks had Chinese options.

April 2018 - Creative Coding

For the third one-month workshop, I wanted to shift from just teaching programming towards involving more digital art in the sessions. The Scratch teaching was focussed on creating digital drawings - with of images from the V&A Computer Art Collection used as examples. Arduino was taught with the goal being to create a version of my Colloquy of Glass Jars artwork. Finally, WebVR was also taught to provide the students with an alternative creative output. At the end of the workshop, the student work was shown as part of the East Meets West: Creative Connections exhibition in the 729 Art Cafe and Gallery.

November 2018 - Lighting Based on Guangcai Porcelain

The introduction of a creative theme worked well in the previous workshop, and it was continued for these sessions. Students were first being taught about Guangcai - Cantonese porcelain. They were then shown Scratch and asked to write computer programs to recreate the repetitive shapes found in the designs of Guangcai. Next, they used Scratch to create an interactive presentation intended to teach people about the history of Guangcai. They were then introduced to Fusion 360 and shown how to create generative shapes that alluded to Guangchai. These were then laser cut in cardboard to be used as the basis of a design for a lamp. Finally, they were shown how to use Arduino to control LED lighting and install the LEDs inside the lamp. The resulting work was very impressive and was exhibited as part of the East Meets West: Innovation Connections exhibition in the 729 Art Cafe and Gallery.

March/April 2019 - Wearable Technology

This workshop was focussed on Wearable Technology and the teaching of digital-making skills. Students were introduced to the current trends in Wearable Technology and shown how to use the BBC Micro:bit to create a wearable device with sensors and LED lighting. Some students also experimented by creating light works, again controlled by the Micro:bit. Prototypes were handmade, and 3D printed. The students' work and information posters were then exhibited in the 729 Art Cafe as part of the East Meets West: Smart Connections exhibition. For this student group, who had no previous programming or hardware experience at all, the BBC Micro:bit proved to be a very accessible platform to work with.

Exhibitions

23rd April - 13th May 2018 - Creative Connections

Innovation Connections: East Meets West brought together a diverse range of work by digital artists from De Montfort University in Leicester, UK and Guangdong University of Technology in Guangzhou, China. The exhibition ran at the end of the Creative Coding workshop. It was our first UK/China digital art exhibition at GDUT.

29th November - 20th December 2018 - Innovation Connections

Innovation Connections: East Meets West was the second in a series of digital art exhibitions hosted by the School of Art and Design at Guangdong University of Technology in Guangzhou, China. It featured work by artists from De Montfort University, GDUT, Australia and New Zealand. It also showed the lights created by the students in the Lighting Based on Guangcai Porcelain workshop.

12th - 24th April 2019 - Smart Connections

Contacts

For information about these workshops and exhibitions, contact Sean Clark at seanc@cuttlefish.com. For information about the FE Artlab at GDUT contact Yi Ji at jiyi001@hotmail.com.