Tag Archives: catalyst

$12 Million in annual funding from Catalyst

Todd Robinson Kilim 2012, Artbank collection, annual rental $700+GST

Todd Robinson Kilim 2012, Artbank collection, annual rental $700+GST

Ministry for the Arts

Catalyst – Australian Arts and Culture Fund is now open for applications through three streams:

  • Partnerships and collaborations
  • Innovation and participation
  • International and cultural diplomacy

If you’re planning and developing activities in any of the following categories, you are encouraged to submit an application:

  • Performance
  • Exhibition
  • Tours
  • Festivals
  • Development and creation of new work
  • Investment in foundation or fellowship programs
  • Infrastructure and capacity-building projects

Priority will be given projects that increase regional engagement, enhance Australia’s international reputation and are run by small to medium organisations.

You can read more about the criteria and submit your application on the Ministry for the Arts website.


Dreaming of electric sheep

It is no surprise that in our tech-saturated age, the Cyborg has become a potent theme of terror as well as a hope for transcendence. While Terminators, Cylons and Daleks provide the thrills, bionic ears, eyes and mind-operated artificial limbs hint at a coming future of extraordinary medical miracles.

Some go further — from the restorative to the enhancing. Implant a chip under your skin, and wave to open doors or pay bills. Insert a magnet into your finger-tips, and explore a new sense. UK cybernetic researcher Dr Kevin Warwick was the first person to use an implanted microelectronic array to communicate directly with another human nervous system (after convincing his wife to join him in this experiment). He was subsequently awarded several DSc’s, the Mountbatten Medal and got into the Guinness Book of Records.

A variety of animals have had the treatment, too, though they were probably not volunteers. CyberCockroaches are available (still in Beta, though), and beetle bots might provide DARPA with the ultimate spy-drone. Rumours persist that the US military is developing controllable attack dolphins sharks. Animal rights activists have raised protests, but the idea of a cockroach that you can control from your smartphone is stupidly appealing.

Humans who have made the leap from fiction to flesh, like Neil Harbisson (below),Neil_Harbisson_cyborgist (1) who has an implanted antenna that allows him to hear colours (even some that other humans can’t see) are enthusiastic about their new abilities. The Cyborg Foundation exists to promote their cause, and useful additions like eyes in the back of your head, and bat-like sonar sensors that allow you to feel how fast a speeding projectile is headed in your direction. Seems like they might be expecting some antipathy.

And there is the argument that most of are cybernetically enhanced already, though the device is often in your hand, rather than your skull. Mobile devices plug us into the information net, extend our senses and our memories. Software is more accessible than wetware, and less conspicuous.

I am not too worried as long as things remain voluntary (unlike the Daleks). Fixing a misplaced eye or two, or reviving hearing after too many loud good times seems a good idea, and a mechanical heart seems preferable to recycled pig bits. I might leave communication with my partner to more filtered channels, though.

Triggering Real World Events in Minecraft

Hi guys, my name is Brendan and I’m the new Fabrication Catalyst at the Edge.

Whilst I’m heavily into Fabrication of any form, be it 3D printing, cnc milling or many other forms of making, I really dig projects that bridge the digital-physical divide.

I’d like to share a great one for you — If you’ve ever wanted to control the real world from within Minecraft, you might be in luck.

Simen has documented on his blog how to make a network attached Arduino control a terrifying skull through Minecraft, just in time for Halloween!



Upcoming Events and Brain Leaks

D-Day is almost upon us with both a Clever Convention (11th March) and the first Hack-Your-Head (12 March) workshop approaching fast.

Clever Convention promises to be very exciting as we have Dr. Sophie Billa coming in to talk about Neuroscience, brain structure and how disease and drugs effect the brain, while I’ll be rambling on about memory and demonstrating some mental memory gymnastics.

The Hack Your Head workshop will introduce some basic memory systems and the theories behind how we remember things. From this workshop the participants will come away with two great systems for memorising things and a better understanding how memories are stored (hopefully!).

On another more personal note, I have just started a full time degree in Industrial Design and have discovered that my brain leaks.

It’s not a physical thing, but it turns out that when you try and ram information into your head without suitable ordering, bits leak out and become less defined, which is very frustrating. Currently I am working on a way to do some mental housekeeping every evening before bed just to have a tidy up, store away the non-immediate items and list and prioritise everything for the next day. I guess this is essentially a form of pre-meditation to prepare yourself for a spotless mind. I’ll just add that to the to do list (memory image: on my sofa next to a fat little Buddha who is polishing a brain…)


Caffeinated Distraction

While doing a little research on the origins of the ‘Method of Loci’ I cam across some articles on caffeine versus brain performance, that I though were worth a read, seeing how the staff at the Edge (with a few exceptions) are all caffeine junkies….

Apparently there are optimal levels of caffeine intake which promote learning and work levels, while decreasing fatigue, BUT…. it turns out that caffeine promotes more frontal cortex functions for simple tasks and can actually inhibit some other learning functions. One of the favorite quotes on the topic was ‘ Caffeine is like putting a block of wood under your brains brake peddle’.

Here’s some links to the articles:
Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired
What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain
More about Caffeine and Memory

Must be time for a coffee….

PCB Making Fun

Last night at Hack the Evening we had a look at the latest in Printed Circuit Board printing technologies from this mob who have successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to create a direct-to-surface pcb conductive track printer. In short the printer prints PCBs out of almost anything. To show why this is a great thing, we also made some PCBs by hand, so I thought I’d pop up some before and after photos…

The design:

pcb design

The PCB..

pcb actual

While this was a purely decorative piece with no real function, we’ll look at putting together a proper useful PCB for the actual workshop.

Any thoughts on what it could do? PCB business card? Mini oscilloscope? Blinky light?


How to remember Pi to 100 decimal places

Last week I posted the challenges set by my coworkers, namely, remember a big shopping list and remember pi to 78 places. Well, to get a nice round number I went Pi to a 100 places and using the SEM3 system explained on my blog, came up with the following story. Be warned that this story makes almost no sense! Words in bold are the number images.

My. Turtle on a Bench pulled in a loom and picked off a leaf that it put in a box next to it’s backup minim that it then threw far. it then change(d) into a ram that was part of the mafia, that then pulled on a mink stole and took it’s pulse. The pulse then became the throb of navy engines as a boat sailed past and gave a 21 bum salute and made a fart sound while throwing packets onto the ground. The packets unfolded in to a shop selling a map and Bemac, where a group of lads were hanging around including one with a flamethrower called Livens (invented the flame thrower). He then passed the flamethrower to Kerry Packer who put it in a barrel and melted it in a pan that was actually a mask. He then drank the liquid and got really fat. He poured the liquid into jars but as he did his chin swelled up and out popped Vishnu who said ‘everything is safe‘, at which point a giant safe fell on Packer. The safe opened and a baby walks out on a catwalk showing off baby fashion, but phase(ing) in and out of reality and so takes morphia, but inside the syringe is brazillian footballer, Nilmar who needed a case but gets a shock when he opens it and is the court in a beef net.

Yes, I know I sound insane, but this all locks into a great system for memorising anything. Imagine being able to memorise every phone number of everyone you know?

Memory Test

As part of the Hack Your Head workshop series, I will be exploring how to super charge your memory. While preparing the various activities I have been dragging the Edge’s wonderfully compliant staff into my various mental shenanigans and in return have been set two challenges…

Challenge 1: Shopping list – Today I’ve been given 20 items to memorise. This list will be added to by 10 more items every day I’m at the edge (twice a week).

Challenge 2: Memorise Pi to 78 decimal places (ouch)

Challenge Accepted!

I’ll be using the Buzan Self Enhancing Master Memory Matrix (SEM3) to memorise all these items. If your interested in learning this, book a spot in our Hack Your Head Workshop, which hopefully will be Mid-March.

Hacking old eWaste

One of the workshops we’d like to run is ‘Consumer electronics hacking’. So far I’ve been looking into toys and gadgets that can be re-purposed for our own nefarious purposes, but then last night my printer of 7 years finally died with a broken print head.

What to do with an old printer? Bin it? Strip it for parts? Recycle in government eWaste program? Or, could it be turned into something cool, like a vinyl cutter or laser engraver (possibly with a DVD burner laser diode?).

Here’s my question – what old eWaste do you have that we can hack and circuit bend for new purpose? Answers on a post card (or even the comments)!

Meet Dan Cook

Dan Cook is our new Hack Catalyst. He’s already causing trouble around the office (we now have a Daniel, Daniele, Daniel and Dan on the team), and proposing weird and wacky workshops (toy dissections, anyone?), but we’re looking forward to working with him over the Hack period. I sent through some questions to see if we could get a little goss and get to know him better.

What was your role before you came to The Edge? And before that? And before that?
Before The Edge I was a ‘Solutions Manager’ for a large video company, before that a Technical Production Manager for a government Arts venue, before that, Managing Director at D-Tek Industries manufacturing lighting/video convergence products based around my own patent, and before that a freelance international lighting technician touring the world with rock and roll bands!

Have you ever lived overseas? What were you doing? Travelling? Studying? Stowing away in the holds of a ship?
I’m from England originally and have been in Australia for eight years now. I was a victim of the great Australian conspiracy to send over the Australian women folk to bring back English gene stock. Kind of like an Australian multicultural Aryan race but with bad teeth and a penchant for Marmite.

Do you have a piece of advice or a motto that helps you make decisions in life?
Being the Hack catalyst I feel it should be something profound like “You don’t own it until you’ve hacked it’, but it’s probably more like “I’m just going to let my subconscious work on this while I do something fun instead…”

Do you have any hobbies or interests? Collections? Unusual ways you like to spend a Thursday evening?

I have been renovating a 1965 VW Beetle and turning it into an electric car, which has turned into a very long term project now that I’m also renovating my house and trying to raise two children! Ah, Priorities…. I also spend a lot of time tinkering with 3D printers, electronics, growing ridiculously hot chillies, building things and planning for the zombie apocalypse.

When you open your web browser what are the first three tabs you open up?

Wired, Geekologie and XKCD

Smartphone or snail mail? Either way, any favourite stamps or favourite apps?
Smart phone. I have a half dozen different email addresses so having them all in one place is good. Also paper waste annoys me as it doesn’t compost well when it’s UV laminated. I’m seriously considering booby trapping my letter box.

If you were to give me $10 I would spend it on 4 sets of 5 vibration motors from china for haptic feedback

If you were to give me $1000 I would spend it on a beat up ‘70’s Landrover Defender to turn into a zombie apocalypse escape vehicle.

Mac or PC? Both. At the same time.

Keep an eye on what Dan’s up to by following him on the blog.