Sky, olive branch and Moon
(water colour 30 x 40 cm)
ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
I have used the fellowship in a number of different ways including: 1) prototyping ideas, devices and equipment, 2) pursuing new avenues 3) undertake courses in thinking skills, meditation. These range from prototyping a diverse range of ideas, undertaking sketches and drawings, to building a 500 year old Leonardo de Vinci's idea taken from his original notebooks! At the heart of all this activity is the enjoyment, desire and need to keep creativity flowing - i.e. to keep coming up with ideas, motivation and generating the creative energy to undertake them. The main activities are listed at the end of this report and I am very grateful to Nesta for facilitating and providing me with the opportunity to explore these fascinating areas! A short portfolio of some of my experiments / inventions are also included toward the end of the report.
1) Prototyping ideas, devices and equipment
Most of these were developed to follow up an idea or to allow me to investigate a new area. Some lead to a definite end result while others where worth doing simply in order to pursue an idea. Two examples that illustrate this are the shake-a-gen electrical generator and the lap-top power supply:
The shake-a-gen is probably the simplest electrical generator that one could imagine and its design came out of a period of Nesta work investigating various designs for wave power electrical generators. Although the aim wasn't to develop a new teaching aid, it has lead directly to a very successful teaching workshop at The Creative Science Centre. An article is currently being written for Physics Education (Institute of Physics Journal) about the generator. See web site for further details:
The lap-top power supply was one of a number of devices I have built in an ongoing investigation to improve the use and versatility of laptop computers. Devices built include an audio power amplifier to improve the quality of the sound in presentations, a remote control for a Power Point presentation (which has been found to be very useful and is now used in all my presentations), and even a cable tidy for the cables and leads. The problem I was trying to overcome was the short useful battery life of the laptop while 'on the road'. A prototype was constructed but did not lead to a very successful solution to the problem even though the device worked. This work is still on-going.
Portfolio of some nesta projects
In places I have deliberately chosen ideas that are outside my work area so that new areas can be explored. For example the BBC asked me if I was interested in presenting a series called Building Leonardo that would involve bringing his sketches to life. As a result I visited The Victoria and Albert Museum (along with Fellow Rufus Marsh) and also the British Library to look first hand at some of Leonardo de Vinci's original notebooks. This was extremely inspiring and many sketches have been made from the originals (e.g. the Arundal Cordice etc.). Recently I took one of these simple sketches (which was complex enough not to be obvious in its workings) and built it - perhaps for the first time, or at least in 500 years! (see web site for more details).
Sketch taken from Leonardo de Vinci's notebooks and Jonathan and Samuel with the completed 'machine' they made together.
The NESTA fellowship has enabled me to purchase some fundamental equipment and materials for prototyping ideas, for developing IT skills and for developing software and hardware design (see end of report). This equipment support is an especially important part of the fellowship as a little money to try things out really frees up the creative spirit and possibilities. So far I have purchased tools for the workshop as well as materials and components. The fellowship has also allowed me to purchase a PC for development work on a new range of PIC integrated circuit (see page 6).
3a) Thinking skills, travel and making links with others
As discussed with my Nesta facilitator (originally Peter Bradbury but know Rick Hall) the first year of my Fellowship would involve less traveling due to the recent expansion of my Science Centre at Sussex University. However, the fellowship has made it possible for me to attend a number of events in the first year as well as travel for fellowship research. In Sept. 2000 I went to a unique series of teachings in France (Dalai Lama - The path to Enlightenment, 5 day teaching in meditation etc.). In 2000 I was invited to join the Big Draw - the first activity of Campaign for Drawing initiative. This has the wonderful aim of stimulating more people to appreciate the educational and communicative power of drawing - a view I hold very dear, as I think much more clearly in pictures than in the written word. Other activities include attending an Arts-Science Conference in Oxford and recently been invited onto the Creative Science Teaching focus group which is part of PAL (performing arts labs).
In my NESTA proposal, and subsequent reviews (for example by the Nesta facilitators; Peter Bradbury and Rick Hall) mention has been made of meditation as part of the Nesta activities. I thought I would write a little here to clarify:
Sooner or later an untidy workshop needs clearing up. If this is not done the clutter starts to affect the quality of the work that can be done and one even wastes time looking for, and even walking around, materials and tools. In an analogous way to the need to tidy up the workshop, at some point the clutter in the mind must also be addressed. Otherwise the mind is constantly distracted from one thought to another. Although the mind might be very good at doing this it is not the best possible situation as it tends to dilute its potential to be applied to any one topic or problem.
So it is useful and advantageous to settle the mind regularly. From this 'simpler' frame of mind one can start to trace the motivation for the various thoughts and activities and so better understand ones aspirations and where future directions might lead or should go to. This is basically the aim of meditation - to reduce the distraction and 'scattering' of the mind. During the practice it is simply the letting go of thoughts so that the mind finds its own natural simplicity - without effort. This is harder than it might appear as the mind (through our demanding and busy lives) is constantly being distracted and diverted from one thought to another. A little time each day for meditation to 'bring the mind back home' is therefore a mentally healthy thing to do. Continued practice of meditation is an ideal starting point for the mind each day.
In my initial proposal for the fellowship I felt that meditation was an important aspect to pursue for creativity and therefore asked for support for this in the fellowship. Since the start of the fellowship I have continued to practice mediation but have also joined the local Sussex Rigpa group (Rigpa is an international Buddhist group who teach meditation) and currently compile the group's regular newsletter. I have also used the fellowship to attend a week long teachings in Sept. 2000 by the Dalai Lama in France (The Path to Enlightenment) and also the 'Bringing the mind home' course in Lewes (2002). In the last half of the fellowship I plan to use the opportunity to develop and receive further meditation instruction. This may involve some traveling.
Peter Bradbury suggested that Trevor Wishart might be a good mentor for my Fellowship because he might add new directions and suggestions. Trevor lives in York, the other end of the country, so very regular meetings are not possible but we have remained in contact via e-mail. Trevor has suggested the possibility (at least in principle) of some kind of exhibition near to the end of the Fellowship. My fellowship work brings together a rather interesting and diverse range of ideas, topics and motivations and some kind of 'installation' might be of interest and perhaps/hopefully inspiration to others. This might link science, art and human development (lateral thinking and the true spirit of human endeavor) in an intriguing way (see the sculpture described on page 6-7). Trevor has also suggested a number of institutions and Centers that I should visit / make contact with, with regard to the interface between the arts and science and in particular electronics (e.g. The Museum of the Future, Linz ARS Electronica, Amsterdam).
I have also used my nesta fellowship time to explore other lines of thinking and expression. These include writing some science poems (see details on web site below) as well as drawing and painting.
Turning a wheel,
moves the wax
cuts a groove
which before it lacks.
Sound falls on cone,
is transferred to needle,
its motion on the groove,
records sounds of people.
Back to the start,
our groove and needle,
replays the sound,
if ever so feeble.
View of the Rough Science Phonograph
Drawings and poem made on location in Carriacou while filming Rough Science II (May 2002 BBC2)
6) Fellowship publicity and information:
The following URL's link to pages on my web site detailing some of the nesta work. In addition to this an article is currently being written for Physics Education (Institute of Physics Journal) about the shake-a-gen.
Dec 2000 Report
Portfolio of some nesta projects
Shake-a-gen Storage device
Paintings and drawings (some nesta work)
7) PROBLEMS AND LIMITATIONS
The main problems and limitations since the start of the fellowship are the growing number of commitments especially through my work at the Creative Science Centre. Although this is obviously a good thing it has made for a much busier life (it's a universal problem I know!) and so less time than I would have liked for the fellowship projects (for example to pursue painting experiments etc.). I am endeavoring to manage my time to make sure I can pursue the Nesta work effectively.
8) NEXT STEPS
According to Edward de- Bono the fixed logic system of thinking cannot be creative. His term 'Po' represents the act of deliberate (maybe naive) creative thinking.
Nesta has given me the opportunity and time to explore and try out new ideas. This is precious to a creative person. I am currently working on a number of larger scale projects including developmental work on a new range of integrated circuits (PIC's), a sculpture (entitled - Trust, see below for details) and also continuing the numerous smaller scale projects and investigations.
Future ideas include:
PIC's and The Invisible Men
The PIC's are integrated circuits that contain a whole computer on a single chip. These incredible devices can be programmed and used to control, data-log and manipulate almost any electrical and mechanical device. Their potential is vast and very exciting. As part of the fellowship I want to learn about these devices, program them and start to use them in innovative designs and applications. In my original proposal I mentioned that I had built equipment for a street / stage act known as the Invisible Men (an entertainment / comedy act that are in great demand world wide).
I have recently been talking to them about making a device that they can use in a new act they are developing. The heart of this device would be the PIC technology, used to build an 'intelligent' machine or device in their performance. We are currently at the start of the discussions but I envisage this to be a very exciting and interesting application for the PIC chips and a wonderful new direction for the fellowship work.
Sculpture - 'Trust'
I am currently working on a small sculpture which brings together ideas on symmetry and human interaction. I have chosen a rather unusual Islamic design as the basis for the work. The pattern, which is cut from single metal sheet contains polygons of many orders forming a complex repeating structure. The resulting design will then be mounted on a hemispherical base.
The philosophical basis for the work is in the parallel between the mathematics (Eular's laws) that govern the successful combination of edges, corners and polygons in the pattern and the social laws (particularly trust between humans) that governs the success of people of different views, religions and perceptions being able to live together. This is explained in more detail on accompanying notes.
The pattern is very delicate and intricate and has been filed out from the sheet by hand. This is very concentrated work and in order to maintain a high degree of accuracy I have limited work to 1-2 h sessions. So far I have pursued the project in over 30 of these sessions, doing a small part of project work every day. The roughing out of the pattern will take about 40 hours and it is hoped that the piece will be finished in a total of about 50 hours work.
In the last report I mentioned that I was pursuing a number of book ideas. The first was a book on starting electronics which is now very close to completion in its first stage. I was also researching a number of books for a school audience in collaboration with Jan Meering, a school teacher colleague (who was not teaching because of ill health). Unfortunately Jan's health deteriated over the year, she was diagnosed with cancer, and earlier this year she died. As a result this project was not continued.
Courses, teachings and meeting
In June 2002 I will be attending the Futurelab meeting in Bristol. This is about IT and creative interactive learning. I also plan to attend courses on the PIC chips mentioned above as well as lateral thinking courses. If time permits I would also very much like to extend the Leonardo de Vince work by visiting the museums in Milan and Northern Italy. I also need to visit the various museums and institutions suggested by Trevor Wishart such as the Museum of the Future in Amsterdam.
How the NESTA Fellowship fits in with my other work Since May 2000, when I was awarded the Fellowship my working life has developed in many exciting ways. I have continued to built up the Creative Science Centre (CSC) at Sussex University. I now share a wonderful lab space with a award winning teacher / science educator (David Daniels, Hove Park School, Brighton) The CSC runs around 50 events a year including talks, workshops and long term projects with schools, colleges and those outside education.
I have also been involved with some very successful TV productions including two series of Rough Science (the last series is going out at the time of writing) as well as a series of short 10 min programs looking at the science of TV movies (Hollywood Science, BBC2, currently on its 5 repeat !). Other work includes an interesting consultancy with Schlumberger (the educational web wing of the company - SEED). This work is developing on-line experiments for access and direct control via a standard home computer connected to the internet. See the CSC web site for some details (includes some details of the NESTA work) :
APPENDIX II - Portfolio of inventions
Portfolio of some nesta projects
APPENDIX III - PROJECTS / EXPERIMENTS - June 2000 - May 2002
Geo. Dome model research - lead to a Smith Klyne Beecham Master Class's Workshop
Giant Fullerene Demo, CSC lab and exhibition
Laptop Monitor - appeared on Dante's Peak episode of Hollywood Science
Grey-line indicator globe, Transistor demo's (CSC W/S)
24-12V converter (idea to use battery power more efficiently)
, Crystal set amp
AA battery re-activator Mk-IV, CSC lab version on wall
Moon Clock (MkI and MKII - possible CSC projects)
Chip v transistor LED flasher
Power Point remote control - now used extensively for all my presentations
Building Leonardo - building an idea from a 500-year-old sketch!
Lap-top power supply (with Islamic design)
Paintings and Drawings etc.
Pi chair, summer 2000
Leaves, Sky and Olive branch, - autumn 2000 (see picture at start of report)
Dalai Lama - France Sept. 2001
Palm Tree - not finished, + other ideas for paintings based on symmetry, shapes and colour
Nesta Logo (see pic above!)
Dalai Lama - France Sept. 2000
Thailand, Jan 2001
London, Brighton and Carriacou drawings, summer 2001
Leonardo de Vinci - V&A London, Sept. 2001 (many notebook drawings)
Trust - sculpture based in symmetry and laws (long term project)
Meditation Courses and Thinking skills:
1) 5 day teachings by Dalai Lama, France
2) joined Sussex Rigpa group, write newsletter
3) Bringing the Mind Home - course, Sussex Rigpa
Arts / Sci Conference meeting Oxford, June 2001
Campaign for Drawing (London 2001)
Art/Sci Workshop at the Royal Institution (2001)
Welding course (spring 2002)
'Bringing the mind home' course 2002
Futurelab June 2002
Writing a book entitled - Starting Electronics
Rough Science II drawings and Poems (see below)
laptop (+ break-down cover), various components, materials and parts etc. PIC chips, programmer & compilers, software, paints, brushes etc. PC Computer.
Jonathan Hare, May 2002
home | diary | whats on | CSC summary | latest news