Oyster Cards for Hens, ONN Studio 2017
At ONN Studio we were commissioned by FAI Farms to carry out a research project to design a smart hen coop, which would explore the laying habits of hens. A project we aptly named ‘Oyster cards for hens’. In collaboration with Bobby Peterson, we designed a series of prototype coops, testing each coop in situ, studying results and developing improvements in the next iteration. We had to make sure the hens were as comfortable using the smart coop as they were their regular coops and that we could collect reliable data from the results.
I came on board the team after the first iteration of the coop and was particular involved in the design and production of bespoke ankle bracelets, 3D printed in flexible plastic, containing a small RFID label. The chicken wore this on its ankle (instead of its regular ID tag). We built an RFID reader in the base of the coop. When a chicken approached, we could identify which chicken was in which coop at any time. When an egg was laid, it passed and tripped a laser at the rear of the coop, and was stored in chronological order in an egg-collect tray. Therefore we could tag a time stamp of the egg with the chicken RFID reading.
From the results, we were able to identify a breadth of unknown information. We began to understand patterns in certain hens’ laying habits, which breeds were better egg layers and could also study the health of the hen from the shell quality of its eggs.
The intention of the project was to understand more about the different breeds of hens to lower the overbreading of laying hens in the future.
Plasticity, Kin 2011
During the early stages of my career I spent several years working with design agency Kin. In collaboration with Plymouth University, sound designer Nick Ryan, composer John Mathias, artist Jane Grant and Kin, we created an installation piece which depicted a complex algorithm (developed by Plymouth University). This simulated how neurons fire in the human brain in a simple, visual and auditory form for any audience to understand. We created a simple array of microphones and speakers. Visitors could make a sound or speak into the microphones. This was then fed through the algorithm which distributed the sound across the array of speakers, illustrating how data is fed into the brain and fragmented before we can interpret and understand it.
The project was initially commissioned for a festival at the BFI, London, but later I worked on adapting the installation so it could be toured, including a showing at "Transitions: Knowledge Through Performance in Art and Science" in Breman.