The current exhibition Build your Own: Tools For Sharing has brought lots of new activities and workshops to FACT. One such opportunity, is FACTLab Hack Nights, run by the resident artists Thiago Hersan and Radamés Ajna as part of the new and experimental workshop and studio space currently taking shape in Gallery 2.
First, it is important to point out how this gallery, for the duration of Build Your Own, has been transformed into the FACTLab. The space works as a studio for the resident artists and as a workshop for several courses related to the main exhibition.
Visitors to FACT can enter the space and watch the artists at work in the studio, as well as having the opportunity to learn from them during these courses. FACTLab: Hack Nights, at 12 weeks long, is the core part of the public programme, and the connection between the artists and the public through these workshops allows for the artists' projects to develop in new ways, as well as participants learning new skills.
The first two lessons introduced basic concepts of computing from a historical perspective, as well as basic notions of programming. Radamés explained the logic behind computing and it's evolution during the last few decades. From the basic binary number systems, programming has been domesticated using different software in order to make it more accessible for amateur hackers and coders alike. Although the abstract logic can seem difficult to understand for those unused to the technical jargon, there are plenty of resources available online to help beginners understand the process. For example, this video replicates the logic of a computer using the familiar visual metaphor of dominos pieces.
The beginning of the Hack Nights course also provided an introduction to the use of a software programme called Processing. Radamés taught us how to sketch simple shapes using Processing, as well as to create simple animations like movements or rotations of these geometries. During the next few sessions, we have also learnt how to use Booleans to create random effects.
For the remainder of the course, Hack Nights will explore several electronic tools such as Arduino, where students will have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and projects using the technology available in the Lab.
FACTLab is open over the summer, until 31 August and Hack Nights students and FACT visitors alike will be able to use the space to collaborate on artistic and technological projects. For me, this is probably one of the most interesting aspectss of the Build your Own exhibition, because it will create a creative environment for the public, rather than a static exhibition space.
Find out more about FACTLab's events programme here. FACTLab and its' events are supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union and Connecting Cities