Tagged: Raspberry Pi

18 Months Later…

Oh dear, where to begin? It’s been 18 months since L2Ork’s last post. This is in good part because I was on a year-long research leave. As can be expected, a lot happened during this time. Our program got formidable reinforcements, Drs. Eric Lyon, and Charles Nichols, the new Moss Arts Center with amazing ICAT facilities opened, DISIS is moving into a new and amazing space at the end of this semester, and we’re hosting SEAMUS national conference this coming March.

All along L2Ork remained active on many fronts. Charles, having taught L2Ork for the past year, joined me in managing the ensemble. We’ve continued development of pd-l2ork at a staggering pace (check out our latest screenshots for screenshots of  SVG-enabled patch canvas goodness). The Raspberry Pi version in particular has seen addition of new objects offering a comprehensive alternative to Arduino platforms. Last week, we utilized pd-l2ork in “Cloud,” an interactive art installation commissioned by the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID), and in part sponsored by Virginia Tech’s ICAT where 50 cloudlets were equipped with Raspberry Pis and programmed through a series of community workshops. We had over 150 participants working in teams and perhaps what I found to be particularly impressive about this experience (apart from the fact that the event and the ensuing art was an overwhelming success), was the age range of participants–we had families with small children all the way to senior citizens, all successfully completing the 75-minute workshop and producing a working cloudlet with no prior progamming experience required! Talk about making pd-l2ork accessible to all ages :-). “Cloud” is currently located in the main lobby of Virginia Tech’s National Captial Region (VT NRC) building and will stay there until the end of this month.

Pd-l2ork has seen dozens upon dozens of new releases, with another big one coming up. We have now more contributors and developers and are preparing for a historical jump away from the aging tcl/tk toolkit to the ubiquitous and Qt library (not to be mistaken with Apple’s Quicktime). We have continued to work with Boys & Girls Club of Southwestern Virginia, and in collaboration with the Montgomery County Public Schools have also expanded our summer Maker activities to gifted programs. As a result, this summer we held our inaugural Raspberry Pi Orchestra workshop where dozen children over three days and 9 hours of workshops successfully designed, developed, and utilized their own instruments. Our summer Maker camp was sold in less than 48 hours and was by far the most ambitious and successful yet. Last fall we premiered another exciting project–OPERAcraft, that also utilized pd-l2ork to coordinate real-time opera production our in-house custom Minecraft mod. And the list goes on…

This semester, we have a strong group of dozen energetic performers and I am excited by the upcoming program. We have also refreshed our VT student organization and elected new officers. Stay tuned for further announcements over the next couple of weeks. Until then, L2Ork on!

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raspberry_pi_image_by_TPBarratt

The sparser these posts get the more I am convinced that I need to recruit a full-time blogger. So much happened since the last post. Where to begin?

So we’ve completed our migration to our new laptops (HP dm1 4142nr or their educational variant 3115m). The new puppies are working marvelously well and offer formidable performance improvements. Let’s just say that I don’t have to leave a laptop on overnight just to compile a new version of pd-l2ork :-)

Speaking of pd-l2ork, we’ve had a number of releases, many of which have tackled simplifying the building, dependency, and deployment. We also started maintaining a download page on the main puredata.info portal. In the light of recent developments, including the Satchmo SuitSup Award L2Ork received last fall for its contributions to the Pd community, as well as last month’s ICAT/IMPACT/DISIS/L2Ork Raspberry Pi workshop (I dare you to try reading that acronym soup in one breath), yep you guessed it, pd-l2ork is now running comfortably on Raspberry Pi (RPi) hardware. New versions will be posted shortly on the updated and vastly simplified software page, including detailed instructions on how to configure and run pd-l2ork on RPi. Needless to mention all the efforts at optimizing GUI operations really come in handy on the ultra-affordable and ultra-low-end hardware such as RPi. I guess there has never been a more affordable way to teach music technology, MAKEr, or even start an ultra-affordable RPi orchestra, particularly one geared towards K-12 education (pd-l2ork K12 anyone?)!

As I mentioned in a previous post, over the past year L2Ork has been particularly active in helping facilitate new *Orks around the country and beyond. I am pleased to report that since its inception, L2Ork has helped start 5 new *Orks with three of them coming online in this year alone, including Shawnee State University, Stetson University, and Santa Clara University. Perhaps even more importantly, the said newfound *Orks are using identical or near-identical Linux-based and pd-l2ork-centric setups!

It’s been a while since I wrote a new piece for L2Ork, mainly because of the infrastructural overhaul and heavy work on improving pd-l2ork. And then there was that small formality of tenure that ate up most of the last year. Looking back, it is truly inspiring to see how much the ensemble and its supporting infrastructure have matured. Yet, without new pieces it is easy to lose direction or worse yet, stagnate. I am thrilled to report that a new piece is brewing, one that includes things like earth-rattling dubstep bass, some sick electronic percussion, and smooth meditative textures (can a dubstep go hand-in-hand with meditative textures? good question–I’ll let you know ;-) In part due to infrastructural overhaul and in part due to the newfound dubstep needs, L2Ork is now a proud owner of five new Yamaha YST-FSW050BL2 subs supplanting our old, somewhat beaten up, and definitely underpowered Logitechs. On top of all that we managed to do this without increasing the bottom-line per-seat cost of the ensemble infrastructure. Let the earth-rattling experience commence! But I digress… The new piece titled “Between” is a commission as part of a grant from Temple University’s Vice Provost for the Arts. It is being devised in collaboration with a talented dance duo from Temple University Jillian Harris and Jae Hoon Lim. Speaking of new pieces and collaborations…

Unlike last semester which was dedicated mostly to pd-l2ork clean-up and experimentation with the K-12 module, this semester is packed with performances. Following local “warm-up” shows for new l2orkists at 622 North and XYZ Gallery (as part of the Rock The Blocks festival that took place in March), L2Ork is looking forward to following performances:

Contemplative Practices for a Technological Society
April 30, 2013 8pm @ Virginia Tech Inn (CPTS Banquet)

SPRING 2013 NORTH-EAST TOUR
April16th 7:30pm Princeton University Taplin Auditorium
February 18th 3pm Drexel University ExCITe
February 19th 6pm Temple University Conwell Theater

And then finally, Spring DISIS/ICAT event scheduled for May 6th with a bunch of guest artists (more about that later). So, yes, L2Ork will be paying a visit to the place that started it all, Princeton University, followed by performances and workshops at Drexel and finally Temple University. In preparation for the upcoming tour, we’ve also done a new photo shoot for the promotional materials. Special thanks go to L2Ork’s new photographer Cooper Long for a fantastic job on an incredibly short notice. For more promotional photos, including some entertaining bloopers, check out our Media page.

It is an exciting spring indeed, one that has kept us all both busy and sleep deprived! So much for now, stay tuned for more updates/announcements/music and software releases soon!

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