Thursday, 28 November 2013

Brighton and Stanford Universities collaborate to create new mobile game

by Jian Farhoumand.

Students from the University of Brighton have collaborated with a professor at Stanford University, California, and his autistic daughter to create a new mobile game to be released next week.

Marcus Brooks, 23, originally from Hertfordshire, is in his third year of a BSc Computer Science (Games) degree at the University of Brighton and has founded Greedy Gull Studios with classmates Matt Manser, 21, Matej Navara, 21, and Joseph Loe, 20. Their company designs games and apps for mobile phones and tablets. The music for their first official game has been composed by American student, Chika Shimojima, 21, with the support of her father, Professor Atsushi Shimojima, 51, who is a visiting scholar at Stanford.

Greedy Gulls: Matt Manser(left), Marcus Brooks, Joseph Loe and Matej Navara

Mr Brooks said: “I’ve programmed for years and always loved it. Brighton is one of the only places that does this specific course so it’s been a great learning experience and really fun. We designed the game ourselves but still needed music for it. Our supervisor, Andrew Blake, met Professor Shimojima and helped set up the collaboration. Chika has composed some great music for the game which really adds to the fun and makes it much more impacting.”

Course leader Andrew Blake, 45, said: “I met Atsushi Shimojima at a Visual Languages conference in San Jose in September. Atsushi and his daughter, who is regarded as a savant, have a particular interest in designing music for computer games. I told Atsushi I was the course leader for the BSc Computer Science (Games) at Brighton and might be able to help. Hence the relationship between Greedy Gull and Chika-Pro, the name under which Atsushi and his daughter create music.”

Greedy Gull Studios’ first game is succinctly entitled Super Awesome Line Game and is best-described as a cross between Snake and Tron. The main goal of the game is to navigate an ever-growing line around sharp corners at ever-increasing speed, without crashing.

Mr Blake said of the game: “It’s great! I think it is a quirky, frivolous bit of fun that quickly engrosses the player; exactly what such casual games should be.”
Miss Shimojima is a musical prodigy who, despite having autism spectrum disorder, is the driving force behind Chika-ProHer website describes her as “a surprisingly innocent mind who would rather create music than speak words.” She watched a silent video of the game first, before composing music for it.

Chika Shimojima composing music in her studio

Born in the US and raised in Japan, Miss Shimojima started composing at the age of 11 and has now made hundreds of pieces of music, many of which are used in films and games. She is taught piano by Myrna Emata at Legato Music School, San Jose, and is mentored by James Gardiner, a composer with two Grammy nominations and 42 gold and platinum awards.

Professor Shimojima said: “Chika has autism but has tremendous musical talent so we created this production group to connect her music to society. This is the first time Chika-Pro has collaborated with students from Brighton University. I was interested in the fact that a group of college students were building their own company to supply jobs to themselves. I thought it’s a good match for Chika-Pro. We are hoping to keep up the collaboration for further projects.”

Mr Blake is pleased with the project his students have created and is impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit. He said: “I think Greedy Gull is doing a fantastic job. They are the first group of students within the faculty, as far as I am aware, who have set up their own business under the faculty placement scheme and are proving to be a credit to the university. I hope that they set a benchmark from which students in the future will be able to follow their own entrepreneurial aspirations.”

Super Awesome Line Game is released on Saturday 7th December and will be available to download for free on Android and iOS.

Nick Broomfield: a career on screen

by Jian Farhoumand. 
Sussex-based director Nick Broomfield with Bugle editor Jian Farhoumand
Nick Broomfield, 65, is known for documentaries that are both highbrow and humorous. A graduate of the National Film and Television School, Broomfield has carved a niche for himself as a globe-trotting, celebrity-hunting adventurer. His brazen boldness in the face of adversity often gets a laugh, even if it doesn’t quite get him an interview with his intended target.
Broomfield’s work boasts a broad range of dramatis personae including Margaret Thatcher, Eugene Terre Blanche, Courtney Love, Tupac Shakur and Sarah Palin. A notable idiosyncrasy of Broomfield’s oeuvre is his mock-casual insistence on appearing on-screen himself (however accidental and nonchalant these cameos might look). His subtle humour, mixed with a sort of faux-boyish innocence, often disarms his prey into making surprisingly off-guard admissions. (Something for which Louis Theroux and other recent imitators owe credit.)
Broomfield claims that his cameos were originally borne of accidents and necessity, especially in situations where his potential subjects proved so elusive that his thwarted attempts at filming them became the actual stories on screen. This is especially the case in Tracking Down Maggie (1994), Kurt and Courtney (1998) and Sarah Palin: You Betcha (2011), in which Broomfield is often out-foxed by prey whom he had clearly underestimated.
Broomfield is shrewder than he appears, however, and embraces his comi-cameo identity with relish. This is clear from the series of Volkswagen commercials (1999) in which he wanders around like a lost Clouseau, brandishing trademark boom and tape recorder, in an effort to solve a vehicular mystery. In a sense, Broomfield’s personal brand is now so well-recognised that he has effectively turned himself into the equivalent to anthropology as to what David Attenborough is to wildlife. His mere presence on screen now implies erudition and intrigue.
Despite his humour, Broomfield is a serious filmmaker whose work affects actual, genuine change. His film about Palin is credited with having thwarted her plans for a 2012 US presidential bid and is regarded as a reason why the Republican Party refused to endorse her to run against Obama. Broomfield’s film about Kurt Kobain’s death reveals oversights in police work conducted after the singer’s presumed suicide, and heavily implies that Courtney Love was somehow involved.
Broomfield has made two films about a notorious American serial killer whose execution, he suggests, might have been misguided. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling Of A Serial Killer (1992) and Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer (2003) both cite many examples of serious negligence by numerous figures of authority including Wuornos’ own attorney and even the state itself. Broomfield ultimately suggests that the state put to death a rape victim who had decided to plead guilty and face execution rather than suffer the political circus around her.
I was once lucky enough to meet Nick Broomfield at a Q&A screening of Sarah Palin: You Betcha at the Duke of York Picture House, Brighton. I suggested that documentaries are often regarded as serious but that his are somehow surprisingly funny, and asked if he regarded humour as an important tool for conveying a serious message. Broomfield replied: “Well, it’s one way of surviving three months in Alaska in the middle of winter,” which got a big laugh from the audience. He was referring to his Hobbit-like mission through the snowy state to track down Palin, which resulted in an entertaining Chaplin-esque comedy of errors, replete with director slipping around on icy streets and being ejected from buildings by security staff.
Broomfield said of the making of the film: “It was unbearable. And so we would crack as many jokes as we could during the day just to get through it. But I think it [humour] is important. I mean, I think one or two of the first films I made were very serious and I realised that the audience were only reacting with one emotion, and that it got very tiring after a while. I think you tend to say the same thing over and over and over, if you’re hitting an audience with the same tone and the same emotion. And I think if you can get a wider reaction, which is pretty much how real life is… I think there’s gallows humour, and I think tragedy and comedy are very closely related. And I think if you can get that into a documentary and still keep it being accurate, it’s great. It’s certainly more fun to make.”
Broomfield has received the California State Bar Award for contribution to legal reform, and been awarded several honorary doctorates as well as the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Documentary. His films are informative, insightful and gripping. I look forward to the next one.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bright lights, big city: Brighton lights up for Christmas

by Tom Irving, Lewis Jaffa and Charlotte Schroeter.

It's that time of the year again in Brighton as the Christmas lights were switched on tonight to herald the start of the holiday season. 

Juice 107.2 breakfast duo, Dan Gasser and Hanna Neter, turned on the largest seasonal display of lights on the south coast at an event packed with family fun. 

Juice 107.2 managing director, Lawrence Elphick, said: "We are delighted to be involved, the lights bring a lot of festive cheer to the community."

The lights were met with a positive reception despite missing the countdown and not all lighting up all at once. 

Anisha Chariania of Florence Road, Brighton, said: "The show was good. Shame the lights didn't come on at the same time. It put my kids and I in the Christmas vibe."

There was plenty of entertainment on offer including dancers, street entertainers and music. A performance from The Sleigh Belles topped the bill of acts, entertaining the crowd with an array of festive tunes. 

Eleanor Bell of Trafalgar Road, Portslade, said The Sleigh Belles were beautiful, alongside the fantastic lights. 

The 2 hour event was courtesy of Brilliant Brighton who represent over 500 businesses throughout the city.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Brightonians pucker up for Dali’s decadent Lips

by Jian Farhoumand.

Walking into the Brighton Museum, Pavilion Gardens, one is immediately struck by the wide and eclectic array of exciting and bizarre-looking pieces of furniture on display.

The free exhibition traces the development of innovation in modernist and surrealist interior design throughout the twentieth century, a period marked by political and social upheaval, clearly reflected in the emerging designs and technologies of the day.

In 1924, Andre Bretoni’s Surrealist Manifesto began an artistic movement concerned with the incongruous and irrational, drawing on Sigmund Freud’s theories of the unconscious mind and power of dreams.

The Surrealist Manifesto proved a huge influence on the Spanish artsist Salvador Dali (1904-‘88).

A few yards into the main hall of the Brighton Museum is the prize piece of the exhibition: a 1938 example of Salvador Dali’s Mae West’s Lips Sofa.

The sofa takes the form of a pair of bright red, larger-than-life lips, and shows off an underlying sensuality that complements its unusual choice of form. 

The iconic sofa is based upon Dali’s original 1934 painting, The Face of Mae West, and is built from wood and upholstered in red felt and  wool.

Dali collaborated with his English patron, the poet Edward James (1907-’84), on creating the sofa alongside other modernist and surrealist objects, also notably the Lobster Telephone.

There are other intriguing pieces also on display in the Brighton Museum exhibition.

A giant leather chair, known as the Joe Chair, formed in the shape of a huge baseball glove, made as a tribute to baseball player Joe Di Maggio (and clearly inspired by Dali’s lips sofa) is also on display.

The chair was first made by a Surrealist art group known as Memphis, founded in Milan in the 1980s, and shares an underlying playfulness and magnification of form with Dali’s work.

Both Dali’s Mae West’s Lips sofa and an example of Memphis’ Joe Chair will remain on display at the Brighton gallery until March 2014.

It’s worth a visit as you’ll see some highly unusual artefacts made by some highly eccentric people.

If you like your art and artists larger-than-life, then this is the place to go.

The gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am -5pm. Admission is free.