The John Lansdown Award

The John Lansdown Award 2007

The winner of the 2007 John Lansdown Award was announced during EUROGRAPHICS 2007.

The panel of five judges comprised David Duce (Oxford Brookes University, UK - chairman), Nuno Correia (New University of Lisbon, Portugal), Sue Gollifer (University of Brighton, UK), Pavel Smetana ((International Centre for Art and New Technologies, Prague, Czech Republic) and Phil Willis (University of Bath, UK).

The first prize was awarded to Granulatsynthese created by Roland Schroeder-Kroll, Martin Berghoff and Steffi Beckhaus (University of Hamburg, Germany). The name derives from the vinyl granulate used as the main interface component. The user moves and forms the material, creating landscapes of granulate with "hills and lakes". The resulting shapes control the generation of sounds and visuals. Visuals are projected from underneath a semi-transparent table surface; waves pulse and move through the projection plane and landscape, corresponding to generated sounds. This Invites one to play with the granulate like a sand box. Deeper aspects are discovered by exploring the work, revealing its potential as a musical and visual device. The installation was Inspired by works such as SoundVision and Scrapple as well as Japanese rock gardens and sand animation movies. Technically the installation is a box occupying about 1 cubic metre, containing a glass plate, mirror, beamer, camera, speakers and the controlling PC. The installation is situated in a darkened room, flooded by overhead infrared lighting. The software was built mainly with the vvvv toolkit using DirectX and shaders. Videos of the installation can be found at the project website project website.

The judges were particularly impressed by the very sophisticated relationships between light forms, which develop from creating landscapes with the tiny granluate particles and the sound compositions. Viewers from different age groups might think of it as something very special and unique. The videos show that the installation is very easy to interact with and so very user-approachable. It also shows potential for development as more general interface technique as suggested in the video accompanying submission.

The second prize was awarded to an installation entitled Becoming Starfish by Nicola Schauerman (University of Middlesex, UK). The installation was a student project produced as part of an MA in Electronic Arts at Middlesex University in 2006. Becoming Starfish is an interactive creature encountered as a projection in a gallery space. Combining elements of the female body in a starfish form, audiences find its appearance both beguiling and unsettling. It responds in a variety of life-like ways to motion in the audience. For example, when someone moves into the interaction zone in front of the screen the creature will swim towards them, making a whimpering noise suggesting that it wants company. This encourages the participant to try to engage. A stroking movement, for example, will induce the starfish to curl into a ball and blush. Mood parameters (which currently includle aggressiveness, happiness and dizziness) create a sense of a developing relationship with the creature. Technically the creature has been constructed from video recordings of a human body, choreographed in Flash MX 2004. Images are back projected onto a large screen in a darkened room, flooded with infrared light. An infrared webcam is mounted above the screen and is linked ot motion tracking software (EyesWeb 3.3.0). Audience movement sends motion-derived parameters to the Flash script which controls the creature's responses. Nicola is developing the installation further for presentations at festivals and galleries and is working on additional hybrid creatures including human-urchins and human-sea squirts. More details about the installation can be found at the author's web site

The judges thought this an Innovative and interesting submission that was readily accessible as installation art. The piece demonstrated innnovation in the use of interaction with images, sound and animation and coupled state-of-the-art technologies to achieve a clear artistic vision.

The judges thank all the entrants to this year's competition and congratulate the prize-winners. The John Lansdown Award is offered again for Eurographics 2008 and we encourage creators of interactive digital art, whether students, academics, small or large companies to enter the competition (further details on the Eurographics 2008 web site).




The John Lansdown Award 2006 

The winner of the 2006 John Lansdown Award was announced during EUROGRAPHICS 2006.

The John Lansdown Award was first presented at Eurographics 2000, in memory of John Lansdown who died in February 1999. John was an inspirational leader who encouraged innovation in others by his own creative works. John's career spanned architecture, computer graphics, computer mediated art and multimedia production. His series of articles for the BCS Computer Bulletin from 1975 to 1992 (now available electronically from the John Lansdown Archives) reflected the changing role of computers in art over this period - from the first series entitled Almost Computing, Not Quite Art to the last Not only computing - also art.

When first offered, the prize was entitled ''The John Lansdown Award for Multimedia''. This year the prize was renamed the ''The John Lansdown Award for Interactive Digital Art'' to better describe the kind of entries that the judges were looking for - entries that demonstrate innovation in the use of interaction with images, sound and animation. The judging criteria took into account whether the work looked and sounded 'good' and behaved 'well', the strength of the underlying ideas and the degree to which the system 'worked' both conceptually and mechanically, in other words the fitness for purpose of the work. A successful work would show a significant understanding of the needs, motivations, conceptions and actions of the user.

The panel of five judges comprised David Duce (Oxford Brookes University, UK - chairman), Christian Breiteneder (Vienna University of Technology, Austria), Nuno Correia (New University of Lisbon, Portugal), Huw Jones (formerly Middlesex University, UK), Phil Willis (University of Bath, UK). The three UK judges all knew John Lansdown well.

The third prize was awarded to a piece called UrbanScrawl by Neil Noakes and Sushma Madan (Socialfabric Ltd, London) with technical support by Gordon Davies (Middlesex University). Urbanscrawl developed from noticing how modern society's growing use of technology is altering the way in which we communicate and changing society and behaviour and patterns. Urbanscrawl seeks to trace the residue of digital conversations that pass by undetected. The public could access Urbanscrawl by sending text messages; these were then used as building blocks in a virtual cityscape, which could be viewed and explored. The piece has been exhibited in Central London. The judges liked the ease of participation (texting messages to a specified phone number), and the innovative use of the global cell phone network. Merging mobile phone technology with a sense of location in space was felt to be an interesting concept.
Video clip [wmv file, 5MB]

The second prize was awarded to a piece called UNCAGED, a set of six installations exploring interrelationships and transitions between screen-based digital environments and their immediate physical surroundings. UNCAGED was created by Ralf Nuhn (Middlesex University, UK) in artistic collaboration with with Cecile Colle, Jey Malaiperuman and Richard Thomas, and with technical support by Magnus Moar, Martin Robinson, John Wale and WilliamsRidout). The installations incorporate different electromechanical devices and automated scultures which interact, visually and acoustically, with computer generated animations and video images. Most of the exhibits were reminiscent of familiar games or toys and encouraged playful engagement via touch screens and other tangible interfaces. The exhibits included Bubblelabub a virtual person blowing into a virtual tube that emerged from the side of the installation as a physical tube dipping into a flask of liquid. By pressing a physical bar the visitors could control the rate at which the virtual person was blowing into the tube and hence the rate of production of bubbles in the physical liquid. In Glitchy and Scratchy virtual records could be spun on a touch screen; physical records on turntables followed the movement and generated sound accordingly. UNCAGED was first exhibited at the Victoria and Albert National Museum of Childhood in London (UK). Further details about UNCAGED can be found at the web site. The judges commented on the robust and childproof nature of the installation and the very interesting blend of the real with the virtual, breaking down the barriers between the screen and the real world, which seemed to intrigue the participants, especially the target audience of children.
Video clip [wmv file, 19MB]

The first prize was awarded to Eden: an evolutionary sonic ecosystem submitted by Jon McCormack (Centre for Electronic Media Art, Monash University, Australia). In the work, artificial creatures roam a simple, two-dimensional world, which includes food (an energy resource) and rocks (offering protection and shelter). The creatures have a machine learning system that enables them to learn and adapt to their environment. They can move, mate, fight, eat, and more importantly make, and listen to, sound. Over time the creatures become more intelligent, learning tasks such as how to avoid obstacles, search for food and call their kin. The installation consists of two floating, translucent screens arranged in an X shape. Video projections different parts of the world on each screen. Mulitple speakers allow the human audience to hear the sounds made by the creatures. Infrared sensors are positioned underneath the screens, to detect distance and motion of people within the installation space. Movement of people in the installation space triggers the production of food. The creatures learn to make interesting sounds in order to keep people in the installation space and interested in the work. The judges thought this was a mature work, very well executed and displaying good integration of a variety of media types. The work offered immediate appeal and longer term engagement became apparent as visitors interacted with the work.
Video clip [wmv file, 8MB]

The judges thank all the entrants to this year's competition and congratulate the prize-winners. The John Lansdown Award is offered again for Eurographics 2007 and we encourage creators of interactive digital art, whether students, academics, small or large companies to enter the competition (further details on the Eurographics web site).