A Closer Look at Nathen Street

Do-It-Yourself is the theme bringing in the New Year at The Edge. It will be headed by two talented residents that will be bringing their own experimental and creative interpretations to our programming.

Nathen Street is an exciting new media installation artist. He will bring his interest of space travel and the cosmos, along with his DIY toolkit to The Edge. Expect from Nathen the chance to play with everything from Open Source software, soldering tools; to tealeaf strainers and aluminium bowls which he says make great chandelier light covers.

We asked Nathen some questions about his life, the universe, and everything he plans to do during his time at The Edge:

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
My areas of interest are fairly broad and diverse, I spend a lot of time reading on the internet. I’m particularly interested in space, the cosmos and the universe, stars, planets and space travel and all that black gooey stuff that’s out there. That sort of excites me. I can’t seem to get enough of space porn.

The other sorts of interests I have are physical computing. I really, really like immersive physical environments where you can walk into a space, where it might not be obvious to you straight away, you are having an effect on the room or the room is having an effect on you.

How did you become interested in your field of practice?
I have an inquisitive nature, I used to pull apart electronics when I was a kid. They used to have the big experimentation kits with the little springs that you would put the wire in by holding them back, and it was like 12 kits in 1. They had things like crystal radios and other sort of doorbells and little radios and other types of things, I was really keen on that. I used to have lots of friends that had them and I would go around to their house and go play with them.

Why did you choose to bring your skills to The Edge?
I live a kilometre down the road so it’s very handy to me being here. I subscribe to a lot of blogs and there’s a whole bunch of organisations, conferences and festivals around the world, and it’s really hard not to be inspired by. I guess lonely old Brisbane needed a place like this [The Edge] and I wanted to be a part of it.

What will you be doing during your residency at The Edge?
A couple of workshops: one workshop will be a take on the Graffiti Research Lab who created these little LED ‘throwies’ … a sort of public piece of graffiti that you can throw on metal walls and it will light up as long as the battery lasts.

The other workshop is a DIY chandelier making workshop where I will introduce people to basic electronics, basic soldering and have people get their craft skills out. I’ll provide a whole bunch of stuff that they can use to create these chandeliers that they can then take home.

The third thing I’m doing is a large interactive installation. It’s again working with the lights theme, and the idea is that you’ll be able to walk into a room where the installation is and your voice or sounds in the room will be used to make the lighting change. It’ll be in a room, there will be microphones around, you’ll be able to yell at it, sing at it, stomp your feet on the ground, and it will respond to your actions and hopefully create lighting effects that I haven’t programmed.

How can Edge users get involved?
We are holding the Graffiti Research Lab workshop as part of the 2nd birthday celebrations in February, so I’ll be out here in one the (window) bays doing workshops with whoever wants to walk past and put something together. A couple of weeks later I’ll be doing the chandelier workshop on the 4th and 11th of February.

Do Edge users need any special skills to be a part of your project?
No, just a can-do attitude, a willingness to do stuff.

What will Edge users be able to learn from your during your residency?
I’m hoping that they’ll be able to learn a little bit more about electronics. I’m hopeful that they’ll read my blog because I’ll put stuff up there so that if they miss the workshops they should be able to go home and source the materials themselves and go and do it.

If those playing along at home want to know more about the sort of things that you do, where should they go to learn?
My favourite website right now is Creative Applications. It’s run by a new media academic out of London. The blog is essentially a portfolio of different types of interactive art that’s happening around the world. It might come from festivals, or someone he knows, or someone that has just tweeted about it. I think that website has a lot of information about the types of technology I use and that other people use to create their objects or their programs.

Finally, a few quick questions.

What are the first three tabs you open in a new browser window? Email, the news, Creative Applications.

What was the first mobile phone you ever owned? Nokia 4110.

The one piece of technology you couldn’t live without? My android handset: because I can plug heaps of stuff into it.

Geekiest habit or hobby? I can be obsessively clean; I like to have little boxes where I can put all my transistors together, where I can have all my different wires and button – electronic organisation.

Here are some links that Nathen suggests as good resources to find out more about what he is interested in:

Eye Beam is a non-profit art and technology centre dedicated to exposing broad and diverse audiences to new technologies and media arts.

Creative Applications scouts the web to bring together applications that challenge how people share and engage with information, focussing on creative app development and thinking.

Multitouch Barcelona is an interactive design studio exploring natural communication between people and technology.

Hangar is a centre for arts production and research, providing support facilities for artists and designers.

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