I’m a Computer Scientist by training and profession, but in my spare time I like playing music and writing poetry.  So, when making digital things, a fair bit of both music and poetry tend to feature.   Here’s a quick overview of a few recent projects.

Sheep Dreams

In this project a cuddly sheep is connected to an “EEG” device that displays its dreams on screen.  People can also listen to the sounds of the sheep’s dreams, which incorporate randomly chosen tunes like “Sweet Dreams are made of this”, “Together in Electric Dreams” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep”.  The visuals are provided by Electric Sheep‘s fractal animations, and the sounds by a Sonic Pi script that incorporates outside sounds “overheard” by the sheep into the music.    You can read more about the project here.

As it was put together in a bit of a hurry for a Raspberry Jam, it’s a bit minimal at the moment.  Future plans include adding the ability for observers to alter the sheeps dreams by interacting with it using touch, rather than just sound.  It would also be interesting to add a fractal element to the sounds of the dreams, matching the fractal visuals.

Sonic Pi Goes Bananas

I’m a big fan of music-coding program Sonic Pi and also of MaKey MaKey, a device that allows people to make music on all sorts of unlikely objects including bananas and labradors.  At the moment, Sonic Pi programs, unlike Scratch programs, can’t be directly controlled by a MaKey MaKey, which seemed a shame.

I’d recently been working with Pygame Zero, a simplified version of Pygame, that makes it easier for new programmers to make games (for this book, which I co-wrote with some friends).  I wrote a small program that sent messages to Sonic Pi whenever an object attached to the MaKey MaKey was touched.  More information and the code can be found here.

Poems in the Gaps

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Blackout poetry:  not something you write to occupy yourself when there’s a power-cut, but poems created from other texts by obliterating most of the original words. Looking at some blackout poetry recently, I thought  it would be interesting to code a digital blackout poetry-making tool.  This avoids having to destroy your books, and is handy if, like me, you can never find a pen when you need one.  

The current version still needs a few bugs sorted out and I’m planning to add share on Twitter and Facebook buttons (currently you have to screenshot your poem and post the resulting pic).  It would also be interesting to have a way of making it more physically interactive, maybe involving projecting it on a wall.  In the meantime you can have a go at the beta version here.

Read more from Claire Quigley here.