We mash up the physical and digital in nice new ways for clients like the BBC, Amnesty International, Channel4, The Science Museum, Pfizer, Boeing, the V&A and NESTA.
The things we make include learning apps and tools, clever electronics and sculptural installations for schools, museums, public spaces and cultural organisations.
If you’d like to commission us, or are just interested in what we do, we’d love to talk: firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the British Council’s Cultural Innovation and Leadership programme, Fiddian and a group of other UK-based cultural innovators headed out to Cairo for a three-day workshop at the end of March. The workshop was brilliantly led by the dynamic duo of Shelagh Wright and Peter Jenkinson.
Back at the start of the month Kirsten went along to the BBC Connected event at Facebook. BBC Connected is a series of events based around different parts of the BBC - the idea is to get external companies (and internal people from the Beeb) to respond to specific briefs and pitch ideas, some of which will then get taken forward, possibly to prototype.
Soda has just finished post user testing modifications to six exhibits for Mishkat Interactive Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy in Riyadh. It is the first Science exploration center in Saudi Arabia’s capital and aims to get Saudi youth involved in the thinking about the scientific, technological and economic issues behind their country’s role as a major energy producer and to investigate alternative energy sources.
Soda were commissioned by a major UK charity to provide 6 sculptural LED totems to entertain and inform visitors to the Olympic Park throughout the Olympics and Paralympics.
The international law firm Clyde and Co commissioned Soda to develop a MASH variant for their new head office in London.
Multimedia Aggregation & Streaming Hyperscreen is Soda’s customisable software that takes social media text, still and video imagery and creates stunning, ever changing digital collages in real time. Like a virtual VJ, MASH can dynamically display content around products, services and events on screens large and small in realtime.
Play is central to our philosophy; it fosters an experimental and uninhibited approach to creativity. Our playing created sodaconstructor, an online construction kit for building animated models, winner of the 2001 Interactive Arts BAFTA Award.
In April 2011, Kirsten set up #LEGup, a group for those making educational games and apps, thinking about making them or just interested in the application of new technology to education. The aim was to link people involved in or interested in getting involved in making educational games and apps.
Soda were asked by Vector Foiltec to look at a control system for the stunning Media TIC building in Barcelona, Spain. Our solution was to decentralise control with simple Arduino clone-controlled, networked fan units. This effective solution saved running many hundreds of metres of pneumatic tubing and leaves a flexible system the building owners can work with.
In 2011, Media-Tic won the incredibly prestigious award of World Building of the Year.
In spring 2011, Fiddian put out a call via Twitter and quickly had ten people willing to invest in a share of the Makerbot 3D printer. Six weeks later, and after a couple of long evenings of assembly, the Makerbot was ready to go.
Founded by Fiddian and Rachel Coldicutt from wearecaper, Makers’ Guild is a membership organisation devoted to raising awareness of and assisting makers of all kinds: from 3D printing studios to textile crafters. Makersguild is curating and hosting a series of talks at the V&A throughout 2012.
You can watch a video of the Makers’ Guild launch event at NESTA here.
The Awesome micro funding concept is soooo…. simple, no strings, no contracts. The ten trustees put a £100 a month into the fund, folk submit a 2,500 character proposal, the best 10 make short presentations at our monthly event, the winner walks with £1,000! There are just two rules about the submitted idea: 1.It’s awesome 2.The money has a meaningful impact on its realisation. All we ask is that winners come back to the event sometime and tell how their project went. No idea is too small. Check this on how to submit an idea.
‘Wave’, a large, sculptural, low-resolution screen for Dublin’s newly revamped Ilac Shopping Centre.
Soda created the website irrepressible.info for Amnesty International UK. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of internet censorship and the role of big businesses in helping repressive governments to control the flow of information to their people.
The one day conference Fiddian organised and chaired examined the role played by the media in telling the stories of Pakistan’s citizens – how they live and work, the challenges they face, and their aspirations for the future. We examined how citizens can most effectively interact with Pakistan’s media, using it as a platform for the expression of their views and a vehicle through which they can demand accountability from their representatives. The day particulalry focused on the growing opportunity that citizens, empowered by a new generation of low cost tools, have to become active participants in Pakistan’s media landscape.
Fiddian went to Shanghai to launch bTWEENScapes at eARTS08: a collaboration with Chinese artist take10.
Soda’s commitment to working with children in learning and regeneration contexts is exemplified by ‘Energy’ - an Arts Council/Creative Partnerships funded 30-metre-tall external light installation at Stoke Newington School, London.
Soda worked with the Tate and British Council to produce Nahnou Together, which enabled young people in Damascus and London to exchange visual artworks that had cultural significance for them.
The Vision London website was set up in 2005 as an online space for young people, schools and creative practitioners to present and discuss the outcomes of partnership projects that considering personal journeys from 2005 to 2012.
For iDesign, the digital day of the London Design Festival, Soda provided a couple of instances of MASH to generate a social media mood-wall around the event.
Fiddian took the latest version of Soda’s MASH to the b.TWEEN 09 Interactive Media Forum at FACT in Liverpool. MASH is Soda’s RSS-aggregating, montage-generating, ever-changing, painterly-mash-up- making, ‘givin’-cool’ system for screens, large or small.
In Fiddian’s performance Neurotic, giant pogo-ing robots attend 3 punk gigs. Neurotic questions how learning develops through the empathetic responses of the brain. The robots’ own neural networks are modelled on so-called ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain which stimulate mimicry. Each robot is exposed to punk records that Fiddian collected as a youth. The intention is that the robots develop their neural connectivity through ‘listening’.
In collaboration with CassonMann and Technographic Displays Soda developed the The Energy Ring, a 40-metre-long LED screen wrapped to form a ring of dynamic white light suspended in the three storey atrium of the East Hall of London’s Science Museum.
‘4luv’ was a site-specific artwork by Siobhán Hapaska and Fiddian for Loch Lommond and the Trossachs National Park. It synthesised the enormously popular SMS (Short Message Service) available on mobile phones, with the long held practice of carving love messages onto trees.
To celebrate the centenary of the National Art Collections Fund, Soda created “Journey”, a digital artwork premiering at ART2003 at the Hayward Gallery, London.
Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership asked us to develop an interactive learning game about the City of London for 12- and 13-year-olds living in areas surrounding the City.
Soda developed three courseware projects for London Business School as well as running a series of informal Java workshops for LBS developers.
Developed for the Channel 4 website, Sex Bots was an adult-targeted game in which users created promiscuous automata to compete in a pansexual play-scape.
As part of the Year of the Artist initiative, Pfizer invited us to work as artists in residence at their new European Headquarters in Kent.
A good example of our playful approach to design, the site is visually and dynamically arresting.
Our playful interfaces enable complex behaviour to emerge from typically simple rules and building blocks. This underlying simplicity makes for efficient systems and compact interfaces that are ideally suited for migration to mobile devices. Sodaconstructor was one of the first of our products to make this transition.
The financial application service provider Traderserve employed Soda to help design a fully graphical model-building interface as part of their service to automated traders.
The sound of sodaconstructor reverberated around the 2001 Sonar festival in Barcelona, where crowds could both hear and touch a menagerie of sodaconstructions. Powerful speakers and a large touch sensitive plasma-screen enabled the audience to grab models from the sodazoo and physically throw them around the screen to a cacophony of dynamically generated sound.
Commissioned by Media Projects International, five generative screen-based works ran in the Dickson CyberExpress shopping mall in Hong Kong, enhancing themed areas on fashion, sport, entertainment, technology and nature.
Delivered online and via CD ROM, the Java campaign planner for Northcliffe Newspaper Group enabled media buyers to select advertising space in NNG’s local newspapers and niche publications, and to obtain demographic information on their target readership. It won the 1999 BIMA business to business online award.
For the Lux Gallery’s second show in 1998, Fiddian and Julian created ‘Corrupted Nature’. Two robots enact de Sade’s ‘Dialogue between a priest and a dying man’, an argument about the possibilities of free will and the existence of a Creator. This mechatronic tableau ironically questions our views of technology and the artificial within the natural world.
Exhibited at the Swedish Museum of Modern Art in 1998, and touring Scandinavia throughout 1999, 2743 comprised eight active autonomous elements which examined the concept of agency within architectural space.
The ‘dozer Mobots installation, is a reactive artwork, concerned with subjects of communication and control within societies. It consists of five computer controlled robot bulldozers (‘dozers), moving over, and hence transforming, sculpting a terrain of earth three meters square. Users are able to subtly, influence the installation by way of a mouse click on a two dimensional density map representation of the terrain, contained within a controlling computer.
Originally commissioned by the online bank Egg, Loyalty was a Customer Relationship Management training game used to focus CRM training sessions.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers came to Soda looking for a creative solution to a specific training need within their evolving global organisation.
With the help of funding from Futurelab Soda developed Newtoon to advanced prototype level.
Druid was a commissioned centrepiece for the gallery area in the Reading headquarters of Druid (now Xansa).
A set of three dynamic learning environments was created in conjunction with BBC Education: The Rap Realm, The World of Wonderwords and The Simile Satellite.
Live on the BBC Education website since 1997, Mapamatic Desert Challenge is a Java game designed to teach basic maths skills to secondary school pupils.
Sonn’et-Se’quence’ used digital manipulation of the codified romance of sonnets to reference early French deconstructivist Raymond Queneau’s work, and Alan Turing’s quote “only a machine can understand a sonnet written by another machine”. The installation comprised five robotic towers with rotating ‘heads’ containing small computers. Sonnets were communicated between towers and recompiled. The resulting recombinations were displayed as text over a video image of the installation. Created by Fiddian and Julian for the Spacex Gallery, 1997.
Memo was a site-specific artwork created in 1997 for the Cubitt Street Gallery office, consisting of a simple artificial-life-like program running on Cubitt’s office computer.
Recentevents by Ed Burton dissolved three texts into a fluid suspension of letter tokens.
This group show, curated by Carolina Grau, set out to make visible the processes that are implicit in making a piece of art. An exhibition of sketches in various media, including objects, drawings, photographs and computer programs, ‘Thoughts’ questioned the boundaries of making work and specifically the point at which the artist’s job is finished. Exploring concepts and process, the show investigated the interstitial spaces in the practice of gallery-showing artists, challenging the modernist concept of the autonomous art object.
Ed v Zach was a collaboration between Ed Burton and Zach Leiberman, created for the Generative X exhibition of computational aesthetics curated by Daniel Brown as part of onedotzero at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2005.