Monday, 12 January 2015

Professional Practice Module


This post is from my journal on MA Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking.
I am currently working on projects based around play, specifically Pinball (see previous list of posts about my research into Pinball). 

This post has been an ongoing draft plan and proposal for the module Professional Practice


Placement/Work Experience in Leeds
26 - 28 January 
myPinballs is the alter-ego for Jim Askey, a pinball/arcade collector/restorer/modder/hacker/experimenter/reinventor. Jim has created worldwide tournament systems, built his own pinball games, created his own driver and control hardware and worked within the industry with some of the pinball's greatest designers.

I negotiated a 3 day work experience to visit Jim / MyPinballs at his house in Pudsey, near Leeds.

Scheduled for my visit is a look at some of his many projects:
  • Revenge From Mars rgb saucer kits (pinball machine modification kit)
  • Bally sound board reproduction (custom pinball machine hardware board)
  • Gottlieb 80b cpu board reproduction (custom pinball machine hardware board)
  • Indiana Jones pinball machine software rewrite (python and pyprocgame)
  • Whirlwind pinball machine software rewrite (python and pyprocgame)
  • NBA Fast Break pinball machine (altered to custom control using p-roc control boards)
  • Twilight Zone playfield in for a restoration (electronics & what a restoration requires)
Before I go Jim said it would be to useful to read up on (just a basic understanding)
  • Ardunio controllers (have a bit of knowledge of these)
  • p-roc boards
  • python code
  • pyprocgame ( the custom pinball framework)
  • Also to have a look on for any pinball games that I like and we can talk about
This was a 2-3 day placement with possibilities of more/ongoing work or collaboration.

Read about my work experience with MyPinballs 


Heighway Pinball
Placement/Work Experience + Project Support
7 Days between March - April 2015 - Merthyr Tydfil, Wales 

I negotiated 7 days of work experience with Heighway Pinball at their factory in Merthyr Tydfil Wales.

The proposal was sent as a PDF as well as meeting with Andrew Heighway (Managing Director) in Merthyr Tydfil and at the Full Throttle opening event in London, to discuss how the placement would work.

I am proposing two parts to this project with Heighway Pinball 1) Work Experience and 2) Project Development & Support. These parts may feed into each other for example; what I find during the work experience element is expected to advise the project work.

Work Experience
The main aim here is to help in the manufacture of pinball machines and for me to learn more about the different areas involved in the process by working alongside Heighway Pinball for a set amount of time, with the possibility for future employment.

I propose that time to be from January/February 2015 until May/June 2015, one or two days a week working at the factory in Merthyr Tydfil to relieve pressure during busy times, to shadow different staff members in a structured order to get an overview of their work, help out with different tasks, build on skills and learn about manufacturing pinball machines with Heighway Pinball.

Project Development & Support
For my final MA project I am working towards building a pinball machine that is a follow on from The Art of Ping Pong project. The machine is aiming to be experimental with materials and technology. A huge part of this project is to encourage more people to play Pinball.

The ambition is to create an interactive artwork using pinball as the medium - I’d say every pinball machine is a work of art - so the outcome is likely to develop over the time of the project - it may be an idea or a theme, a technique or material that is utelised in a new way.

With this there could be an interesting cross over with R&D projects at Heighway Pinball allowing testing of future ideas for the company.

The timescale for this project is slightly under a year and a half from January 2015 - Mid 2016.

Read about my work experience with Heighway

On going body of work
A personal/experimental testing ground. Which will develop my practice as an artist.
What I find and learn during the work experience element is expected to advise the project work.

Back up plans / other
Pinball Machine Restoration
TBC: Restoring a 1970s pinball machine
  • Cleaning, recondition, replace and/or reproduce parts
  • Make working order 
Read blog about the pinball restoration

Playfield Restoration - (not going ahead)
TBC: Helping someone restore a damaged pinball machine playfield
  • Photography and photoshop touch ups
  • print decals

I plan to document this module much better than I have been, via:
  • Audio recordings
  • Photography (camera rather than phone)
  • Possibly video
The audio recordings will be of informal conversations/interviews that take place over the time. These are for personal use and will not be published or transcribed - but are used to help me reflect on what I learn.

I feel inclined to release part of my documentation as a body of work in itself. Some ideas how to do this:
  • Create a zine from photos?
  • Create a new media based Tumblr blog (photos, videos, audio snippets)
  • YouTube channel? (probably not really for me)

Time & plans
From this week it is 18 weeks until assessment of this module. I'm starting to see some of that time fill in already so here is a week by week plan - which will be ongoing list.

It would make sense to document each part with a blog post, if plans change I will still aim to post a new update every week. If I make a post about any of this I will link it from here.

A note on league meets/competitions
You will see I still plan to attend competitions, previously I focused on playing as many machines as possible to learn more about how pinball works - but as well as playing and documenting the machines, the main focus here is to continue to meet people from the pinball community and make new connections which may feed into my work.

Colour code:
Heighway Pinball - green
MyPinballs - orange
League Meets/Competitions - purple
Workshop -  red
Other - black

Week 1 // 15 Jan - 21 Jan
Heighway Pinball - Launch in London (Fri 16 Jan) - blog
12 Hour High Score Competition, Didcot, Oxfordshire (Sun 18 Jan) - blog

Week 2 // 22 - 28 Jan
✓ MyPinballs Work Placement (Mon 26 - Wed 28 Jan) - blog

Week 3 // 29 Jan - 4 Feb 
✓ Digital Bristol Games Day - Digital Bristol Week 2015 - link (Tue 2 Feb @ MShed)
✓ Possible restoration project - blog ✓ visiting the pinball in Bath - blog

Week 4 // 5 - 11 Feb
✓ Printed Relief Workshop (9.30am - 3.30pm)

Week 5 // 12 - 18 Feb

Week 6 // 19 - 25 Feb
✓ Special When Lit League, Salisbury (Sat 21 Feb)

Week 7 // 26 Feb - 4 Mar
✓ Presentation - blog

Week 8 // 5 - 11 Mar
✓ Fri 6th - Work experience Heighway pinball - blog
✓ Pinball Madness League, Weston Super-Mare (Sun 8 Mar)

Week 9 // 12 - 18 Mar
✓ Fri 13th - Work experience Heighway pinball - blog

Week 10 // 19 - 25 Mar
✓ Fri 20th - Work experience Heighway pinball - blog

Week 11 // 26 Mar - 1 Apr
✓ Fri 27th - Work experience Heighway pinball - blog

Week 12 // 2 - 8 Apr 
✓  Thurs 2nd - Work experience Heighway pinball (extra data added) - blog
Student Vacation

Week 13 // 9 - 15 Apr
Student Vacation

Week 14 // 16 - 22 Apr
✓ Fri 17th - Work experience Heighway pinball - blog

Week 15 // 23 - 29 Apr 
✓ Fri 24th - Work experience Heighway pinball
✓ Pinball Madness League, Weston Super-Mare (Sun 26 Apr)

Week 16 // 30 Apr - 6 May

Week 17 // 7 - 13 May
Roller Print Workshop (10.30am - 3.30pm)

Week 18 // 14 - 20 May
Final journal, finish up & organise work

Assessment and feedback
Thursday 21 May

Module Outcomes (summary)
Professional Practice Proposal
  • the relevance of the project proposal to student work;
  • the expected outcomes (these may vary from an exhibition, producing a limited edition multiple, evaluation of a professional print/design studio, training workshops or a field trip to gather research information);
  • a statement of what individuals expect and intend to learn from the project;
  • the expectation that all project evaluations will be accompanied by a body of practical work;
  • a statement of the issues that will be addressed during the project.
  1. Body of work & research 80%
  2. Journal (inc report of placement) 20%

Proposed Personal Outcomes
  • To understand more about pinball electronics, mechanisms and systems.
  • Get my hands on, and build using the parts, for restoration, new build and my own work.
  • Develop my process and practice as an artist (rather than a designer).
  • Have fun in the making process (less focus on the end product)
  • Create artwork 'sketches' - to be seen as tests for my next stage of work in year 3
  • Sketches possibly come together to create an exhibitable body of work
  • Make use the facilities, staff and other contacts I have made which are available at uni, placement - to create my own work
  • Better show my work online - as this is where it mainly exists.

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