Peter McAdam with Sunderland City Council’s creative industries sector specialist, Anne Tye at the Software Centre

Software show for stunning selection of sights and sound…

A SUNDERLAND artist is thrilling visitors to a city tech hub with an exhibition to excite the senses.

Peter McAdam brings together three of his passions: technology, fine art and music, for a show at Sunderland Software Centre, based on his work developing a ground-breaking mobile device application.

Peter is the pioneer behind iCoda, a multi-platform app, which displays images evoked through the recognition of sound input. The software interprets amplitude and duration of sound and assigns images from custom libraries or the users’ images to be shown onscreen in real time.

The results are a stunning, random display of imagery and colour, played-out to music or the ambient sound of a room.

The artist is now using the technology to create an exhibition that will run for two weeks from today (April 8) to May 3, and feature static images produced via iCoda and interactive elements allowing visitors to experience how the displays are impacted by sounds.

“We’ve developed new ideas for the show, but I’m really looking forward displaying the art in this venue, which hasn’t welcomed anything like this before,” said Peter.

“I think the work should appeal to the tech businesses in the Software Centre. The mix of music, imagery and photography and technology will hopefully attract a few people.”

Peter, who received support from MAKE it Sunderland (delivered by Sunderland City Council) for the development of the first iCoda app, is in the process of developing the second-generation version of iCoda, as an HTML5 platform, making accessible as a web platform, rather than just downloadable app.

The original inspiration for iCoda was born from a stroke of bad luck. Peter said: “A leaky pipe burst and soaked my old photographs and letters.

“I dried out the photos and as I peeled them apart, discovered images had transferred onto images, creating fascinating textures and photo-transference.”

Excited by this, he scanned the images and documents and used Photoshop to layer them. “A photo never stops recording,” said Peter. “Damage, folds, fading, it all adds to the story.”

“Through research I came across a medieval technique called “palimpsest”. People used to write letters on animal skin with ink. Recipients would read the note, “scrape” off the ink and write a reply. Eventually the surface of the skin, after being used many times, would be made up of layers of residual markings.”

He developed the idea throughout his Fine Art degree at the University of Sunderland and carried on post-graduation.

Commissioned by Inspire Northumberland to make a looped video for information portals in Northumberland, Peter created “Tapestry” - a slideshow, using palimpsest with images fading in and out with poetry in text form.

“A group of visitors came in making noise and it suddenly switched from a quiet atmosphere to one full of chatter,” said Peter. “I photographed the people and the plasma screen and thought “what would happen if their sound initiated the images and brought forth layers of hidden images?” and that was what eventually led me to develop iCoda.

iCoda is also being used in healthcare, with Peter developing iCoda Health, to improve the wellbeing of patients by developing novel digital arts-therapy products.

After receiving a Creative Fuse NE innovation Award, iCoda-Health was developed creating a real-time sound-responsive image-generator that uses spoken and non-verbal sounds to generate and manipulate digital imagery. It will be used as an aide memoir for dementia patients and as a creative distraction for children who are short and long-term patients.

Peter said: “It’s a really exciting element of the project. We think there could be real benefits for people with dementia and also children suffering from a variety of illnesses. “

Sunderland City Council Head of International Relations, Business Engagement and Investment, Catherine Auld, said: “iCoda is an artistic passion that became a business, that is now becoming an exhibition. I can’t wait to see what Peter produces at Sunderland Software Centre.

“Sunderland is a hotbed for creative talent, but for Peter to marry creativity with technology, photography and music to create something totally unique is incredibly exciting.”

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