Guest post: Artist-In-Resident Max Lawrence

Our 6 Philly-based Unknown Territory Artist-In-Residents have been hard at work for the past 2 months. They are taking workshops, learning to code, and working toward building a larger art and technology project to present publicly in an exhibition in December. Our residents are all accomplished artists that want to expand their knowledge of and exploration of new technology. In the next week we’ll have guest blog posts from all of our artist-in-residents. The first comes from musician and artist Max Lawrence.-Lee T.

Max Lawrence face

Its difficult to contain my enthusiasm for the opportunity the Hacktory has given me.

The Hacktory has really put together an excellent group of artists for this residency. The residents have quickly become a critical part of my learning process. The diversity of our artistic backgrounds has generated a large combined foundation of fundamentals skills for us to draw on. That, in conjunction with our individual project goals , allows us to cover a broad range of interests in our own explorations. Ultimately, though, the Hacktory’s ethos of communication without pretension is what has facilitated this super awesome exchange I’ve been experiencing.

The first challenge for me has been taking a computer coding class online. Its a completely new way of learning for me. Though initially intimidating , as well as incredibly skeptical , my reservation have quickly faded away. The course is excellent in its approachability as well as incorporation of excellent examples of artists utilizing coding successfully , exposing me to a better comprehension of the fine art of computer coding. It has also exposed a major whole in my understanding of basic Trigonometry functions. Geez….

It has been made apparent by taking this class that my ability to solve mathematical equations has absolutely nothing to do with my comprehension of mathematical equations. So enter the Twins, Sine and Cosine… and their parents Angle and Radian. Mostly a battle of attrition, my resolve has been unshakable and Processing 2.0 is allowing for me to explore the relationships between visual and aural arts like never before. It’s incredibly gratifying. I have included some sketchbook pages and code explorations. -Max Lawrence

Spiro deconstruct

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Intro To Processing begins Tuesday July 8

Several weeks ago we had a sell-out session for Intro To Programming For Artists, Musicians and Other Creatives! And now we are excited to host Intro To Processing beginning this Tuesday July 8.

Processing is an MIT-designed, free and open source programming language with a huge community of artists and musicians based around it. It is built on top of Java and is designed to be a “first programming language” but also a powerful one. Our class is a beginner-friendly tutorial and a great first step for artists interested in learning to program and explore what creative coding can do. No previous programming experience is required. In 3 sessions, we’ll review the basics of creating a program from scratch, do hands-on exercises, and be building our own programs and projects much quicker than you’d think possible.

Processing is used to create projected stage designs for dance and music performances; to generate images for music videos and film; to export images for posters, magazines, and books; and to create interactive installations in galleries, in museums, and on the street.

Our class will be taught by Tim Bieniosek, who teaches at The Hacktory and at Philadelphia University’s Digital Innovation Design program. Our last Processing classes in the fall were also taught by Tim and sold out. We currently have several spots available in Tuesday’s intro workshop. If you haven’t yet signed up, don’t miss it! Tickets can be purchased here.

-image by Andreas Schlegel
Processing example

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Immersive Game Night Wednesday July 2

Join the Hacktory Wed July 2nd, 7-9pm to learn, engage, and most importantly play with games. This two-hour free session will begin with a brief 101 on “immersive gaming” and then jump into two interactive and participatory games for you to play and dialogue about. Then learn about a new Philly game being developed for Philly Tech Week 2015 by collaborators Don Xu of Philadelphia Game Lab and Choreographer Marcel W. Foster, current Artist-In-Resident at The Hacktory, and have your say on what would make this game awesome.

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Intro To 21st Century Fabrication!

We have a great workshop coming up Tuesday June 10, 7-9PM, Intro To 21st Century Fabrication. Taught by The Hacktory’s expert Eric Manganaro, this single session class is an introductory workshop overview of how to go from idea to digital design to digitally fabricating a physical object prototype.

We’ll review a complete digital workflow. This class will provide an overview of tools and the process to creating your work. We’ll start with an introduction to tools like Google Sketchup, Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk123d, and sourcing from Thingaverse and Google3D. We’ll review fabrication techniques including the VersaCamm Vinyl Cutter, the CNControlled Laser Cutter (and engraver) as well as 3D printing.

The class is $25. Sign up here.
Hacktory logo lasercut

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Announcing The Hacktory’s Summer Classes

We have a ton of new classes this summer, and they start this Saturday!
They are so exciting that I think I’ll just list them!

Much more information on the classes can be found right here.


DIY Traffic & Bike Counting Sat, May 31 2014 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
We’ve gotten our hands on a few Waycount traffic and a Hi-Viz bike counter. Come out with us this Saturday to learn how to use these tools and help measure the traffic.

Intro To 21st Century Fabrication Tue, Jun 10 2014 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
This single session class is an introductory workshop overview of how to go from idea to digital design to digitally fabricating a physical object prototype.

Intro To Programming For Artists, Musicians and Other Creatives Wed, Jun 18 2014 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
In this class, we’ll take a playful approach to learning the concepts of programming and then take our first beginner steps.

Intro to Soft Circuits – Sew a Felt Monster Sat, Jun 21 2014 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Our class is designed to give beginners a crash course in circuits and sewing and a practical guide to working with e-textiles.
Intro To Soft Circuits
Hacking the Gender Gap Tue, Jul 1 2014 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Hacking the Gender Gap is an interactive workshop in which we explore the gender ratio in tech fields, unpack the associations our culture has created between gender and technical ability, and share experiences of gender and technology.

Introduction to Processing 3 Dates from Tue, Jul 8 2014 – Tue, Jul 22 2014
This class is a beginner-friendly guide to Processing, the open-source programming language for visual artists, based on the Java language, and a great first step for artists interested in learning to program and exploring what creative coding can do.

Intro to Circuits Wed, Jul 9 2014 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
In this class, we’ll start with the very basics, exploring the fundamentals of circuits by building a lemon-cell battery.
Lemon Battery

Introduction to Max/MSP for music Sat, Jul 12 2014 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Learn to write your own digital music making software using Max/MSP!

Create Your Own Simple Game and Controller Sat, Jul 19 2014 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
In this workshop, participants will get introductory instruction and support to design their own simple video games using Scratch, a children’s computer programming language developed at MIT.

Live Video Mixing in Max/MSP Jitter Thu, Jul 24 2014 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Live Visuals for Performance and Installation: A Workshop in GPU Accelerated Graphics within Max MSP Jitter.

Bad Website Jam: How To Make a Vintage 1996-Style Website Wed, Jul 30 2014 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
In this 1-session workshop and jam we’ll review the early web and the era of geocities homepages before blogs and web 2.0.

Intro To Arduino 3 Dates from Tue, Aug 5 2014 – Tue, Aug 19 2014
In this class you can expect a fun crash course on everything you will need to get busy creating with your Arduino. We’ll cover all the key concepts, from learning the fundamental aspects of programming with the Arduino language, to the different types of materials you can use in your projects and prototypes.

Intro To Arduino
More info and sign up here!

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DIY Traffic and Bike Counting

As part of the Department of Making + Doing, we want to get to know the comings and goings of people in and around our space. We’re going to take an urban planning lens to this activity, and we’ve gotten our hands on a few Waycount traffic and a Hi-Viz bike counter. Come out with us this Saturday to learn how to use these tools and help measure the traffic. We’ll have some of the people who created these tools, and are part of Planning Corps in NYC. Afterwards we’ll take our counts back to The Hacktory/DM+D and explore how to visualize them and what further questions we want to ask.
All participants will then be able to deploy the traffic counters to take measurements in other locations throughout the city over the next few weeks. We’ll then meet up for a data jam later this summer to compile our data and make sense of it together.
This event is funded by a grant from Art Place America, so tickets are fee, but please register to help us get a head count beforehand.

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Announcing our inaugural Unknown Territory Fellows and Artist-In-Residents

The Hacktory is excited to announce it has selected 4 Fellowships and 6 Philadelphia-based Artists-In-Residence for our inaugural Unknown Territory Fellowship and Artist-In-Residency programs. Both programs offer the selected artists the opportunity to learn and explore at the edges of technology and art, literally in unchartered territory, to create new experiences and new possibilities with code, software, hardware and other forms of technology and creative expression. Unknown Territory is supported by a grant from the Knight Arts Foundation as well as from the public through a fall 2013 kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

The Unknown Territory Fellowship allows Fellows the opportunity to focus on a specific project or avenue to explore in their work during a period of 2-4 weeks making use of the resources and knowledge base at The Hacktory. In addition to working on a specific project, fellows will teach a workshop and lead a program about their work.

Our 2014 Fellows are:

The Unknown Territory Artist-In-Residency is an extended 6-month residency for Philadelphia-based emerging and established artists with an art, music or performance practice but little or no new media, programming and technology experience that want to transform their current practice by exploring what’s possible with new technologies. Residents will receive customized training in software, hardware and other materials, mentorship from fellows and others in The Hacktory’s community, and will work on their own projects, culminating in a group exhibition of all residents’ work.

Our 2014 artist-in-residents are:

We’re excited for our new fellows and artist-in-residents, their explorations and projects. We’ll be posting updates on their work in the months to come. Thank you to everyone who applied to our first call for Unknown Territory, and to everyone that supported this new residency program.

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Live From Project Night

Greetings from Project Night! Makers were building sensors, working on immersive games, using 30 year old breadboards, creating cement geodesic planters, building a $75 raspberry pi-powered laptop, unpacking our new box of O’Reilly Media books and cataloguing them for the library. We’re here every Thursday evening 7-9PM. Bring your projects and come work with us.

Bevan Weissman


Heathkit Breadboard

Cement planter

$75 raspberry pi laptop

new books from O’Reilly Media for The Hacktory

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The School For Poetic Computation

For the past 2 weeks, I was a student at the School For Poetic Computation. Equal parts artist-organized-school and artist-in-residency, the School was begun as a way for a small group of students and teachers to work together to explore the intersection of contemporary art with code, physical computing, theory and poetics.

Classes were held in New York City in the former offices of Kickstarter. Previously held in the fall of 2013 for 10 weeks, this was a compact super-intensive 2 week session for 15 students and 4 teachers, along with guest lectures by a variety of artists, creative coders, theorists, and social hackers.

School For Poetic Computation - Photo from

School For Poetic Computation – Photo from

Several years ago, I applied to several traditional MFA programs but ultimately chose not to attend graduate school, wanting to avoid both steep debt and the inflexibility of graduate programs that specialized in a specific sub-niche of art. One of the great things about participating in the School For Poetic Computation was stepping into a community of people that shared my interest in studying the intersections of art and technology and actively working together to experiment, to create art, to have fun with art and code, hardware and computing.

Over two weeks we had a huge amount of classes in: OpenFrameworks, building Mesh Networks, Social Automation with APIs, building a 1-bit computer, an intro to Node.js, scraping websites, how to make a living (!), building physical-digital game controllers, a history of poetry and code, a speculative history of alternative computer history, and lots more. I was impressed with my teachers and fellow learners, and got a lot of energy from what everyone was working on. It was an extremely supportive environment, almost a 21st century Black Mountain College-type experience. Many of my fellow students and I stuck around from 10am until 10pm or later every night as we worked together, ate dumplings, coded, debated, watched youtube videos, talked, taught and soldered long into the night.

Students were encouraged to develop questions of interest to explore, and many worked on particular projects for their 2 weeks, alone or in groups. My own coding experience is relatively recent, so I decided to concentrate mostly on working in Processing, the visual artist’s programming language and framework built on Java. I created a program I call the Textual Selfie Station, a program that asks the user to type their name in, searches for information about them on google, and then turns on the camera, creating the image of them out of text found in the google search. Working on this program was a huge challenge for me in a great way, and forced me to explore working with APIs, Bash scripting, delving into javascript, scraping websites, using extended libraries, as well as hours and hours of debugging. Throughout the process, the SFPC teachers and my fellow students became my collaborators, helping me numerous times as I got stuck trying to debug, or suggesting ways to improve or adapt my program. The 2-week program culminated in a big presentation and party Sunday evening as we talked about the school and what we explored and showed some of the projects we built and one of my favorite artist/poet/thinkers, Kenneth Goldsmith, gave a really great talk, a preview of a speech he will be giving at the Frieze Art Fair on Thursday.

Textual Selfie Station - Kenneth Goldsmith

A text selfie of poet Kenneth Goldsmith

In returning to Philadelphia, I’m bringing back lots of ideas from SFPC to support and extend our community at The Hacktory. I’m excited to take the techniques and ideas I’ve learned at SFPC to inform our new fellowship and artist-in-residency as they begin this summer. I’m excited to teach classes and workshops in techniques I learned at SFPC. And I’m excited to connect our communities together. As this nascent field of artist-theory-hacker-maker-learners develop further, we have a huge community worldwide, and it will be nice to grow and interact with our friends both online and IRL. -Lee Tusman

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Great start to tech week with light sabers

light graffiti HEY

We had a blast over the weekend kicking off Philly Tech Week with tons of light hacking! From kaleidoscopes to a room-size camera obscura, we had lots of activities to explore optics and learn about the tools some artists have been using for centuries to create more realistic images.

LED light saber

A major favorite were the light sabers, which were made with a combination of laser-cut wood (thanks to Mike, Dept. of Making + Doing Program Manager) LED strips and microchips from Adafruit, with the engineering and programming know-how of one of our teachers, Tim Bieniosek.

The light sabers had a great effect for the light painting or laser graffiti we set up, but the regular mini flash light also produced some great results.

You can see all the photos on our flickr page. Thanks again to everyone who made it out!



Giant light squiggle




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