I'm Neil.

I'm a 2010 graduate of Interactive Media Design (now Digital Interaction Design) at the University of Dundee.

With a background in computing and design, I love to go beyond the screen and see a project brought into the physical world, apply my skills in new areas, tinker, debate and perfect. Above all I value thoughtfulness and simplicity.

Please consult my CV for more information and to get in touch.

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Touch of Life

John Conway's Game of Life, rich in metaphor, demonstrates how complex and extraordinary behaviour can emerge from the simplest of rules. Typically a mouse or other pointing device is used to exert fine control over the program, creating a surprising disconnection between the user and a simulation with so much meaning.

Touch of Life creates a compelling relationship between the two, where the user must kick-start the program with their own energy by placing their hand into the exhibit.

When initialised the Game of Life grid will explode with activity for a time, before falling into stable shapes or repeating patterns. When the user passes their hand underneath the grid in Touch of Life, new 'life' is added in the area directly above it - as if it were donated, passed from the real world to the digital - upsetting this stagnancy and stimulating fresh activity.

Solo project.

Exhibited at DJCAD Degree Show, 22 - 30 May 2010, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee and New Designers, 7 - 11 July 2010, Business Design Centre, London.


Storymaker, Storyteller

On March 4th 2010 we held 'Tache Bash in the Union (DUSA) to raise money for our degree show. The premise was simple; wear a moustache, be it grown, drawn or stuck on.

The night was preceded by weeks of door-to-door PR, flyering, postering, Facebook hounding and bribing passers-by with free Red Bull at our outdoor lounge. It worked, we raised over £700.

Promotional materials created with Katy Chung, Pablo de la Peña, Calum Pringle and Jen Strachan. Giant backlit moustache (not pictured, sadly) with Paul Creegan. PR with various classmates.

Storymaker, Storyteller

In the early 70s my Granpa took a position as the head teacher of the British School in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. He has a large collection of slides from this time, and his fear was that when he passed away these slides would disappear into storage and his stories would be lost.

In January 2008 we were set the brief of bridging a generational gap, specifically that between a young person and their Grandperson. Storymaker, Storyteller was our solution.

My Granpa, Donald, uses the Storymaker to tell his stories. One button starts the process; a microphone captures his words, and as he inserts slides into the top of the device they too are captured in sync. A second press of the button sends the collected pictures and stories as a single 'presentation' to the Storyteller.

The simplicity of this device counteracts the problems of assembling projection equipment and gathering a far-flung family to view slides.

My device, the Storyteller, receives and archives my Granpa's presentations. A simple scrolling menu displaying the first slide of each story is projected from the aluminium cone. The dial cycles through each story and the single button starts whichever is selected.

It was important to us to preserve the (lost) sensation of being in a darkened room listening to my Granpa talk. Consequently there are no pause, fast forward or rewind controls on either device - pauses and mistakes are part of the experience.

Created with Joanna Montgomery, Lee Murray and Natalie Montgomery.

A Networked Objects for Grandpeople project.

Presented at Microsoft Design Expo, 2008, Microsoft campus, Redmond, Washington, where our team represented the UK and were awarded 'Best End-to-End Design'.

"He speaks in the technology of his day and you view in the technology of your day and it's seamless, and that's elegant. I've not seen that before... so thank you."

Bill Buxton

Watson & Goodall's Resolution Reaching Hat for Business

The Resolution Reaching Hat was a decision-making aid, invented in 1905 by Neville Watson, creator of automata, and Quentin Goodall, a milliner.

Watson & Goodall failed to construct an automaton capable of truly calculated decisions, so instead produced an elaborate clockwork display that generated an entirely random answer. It fooled the public for nine years.

The hat's secret lay dormant until 1912 when the partners fell out and Goodall exposed the lie in anger.

The hat was worn by a trained operator, summoned to the offices of senior businessmen to aid them in making difficult decisions. The dials around the hat are set to indicate potential loss, risk etc - a button initiates the mechanism. The answer is illuminated in a glass display.

In a period of financial turmoil ascribed to poor financial decisions, the 2008 documentary "Watson & Goodall: The Nine Year Secret" brought the pair's invention and deception back into the limelight.

Created with Joanna Montgomery. It fooled a fair few people.

Exhibited in Museum of Lost Interactions, 2008, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee.


In Colchis

Inspired by the tragic comic strip art of Chris Ware and the ancient myth of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece, this exhibit re-imagines Jason as a 21st century man on a quest for happiness.

As the visitor approaches the little tenement block its simple frontage suggests that the windows are the centre of the interaction. When they open and peer through a window they witness a part of Jason's story. By viewing all the small segments of the story, the narrative and message can be constructed.

The height of the object is deliberate, the visitor stoops to peer into the window as a meddling god would, secretly observing the world's inhabitants and toying with their insignificant lives.

A simple wooden frontage disguises an interface powered by a series of switches connected to a controlling computer. When a window is opened the corresponding switch triggers a patch created with the Pure Data programming tool, which in turn causes the inhabitants of the building to appear and go about their business for the visitor to witness.

Solo project.

Exhibited in Spiritual Objects, 6 - 10 April 2009, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee (in association with Orange, Avian and Newangle).

How can video games transcend craftsmanship and become art?

As part of my final year at Duncan of Jordanstone I chose to write a dissertation. I have always been passionate about video gaming, so (in part) to demonstrate my level of critical thinking on the subject I stopped playing games and began to read and write about them instead. I loved it.

The topic of this paper arose from a few things; personal dissatisfaction with the execution of certain "AAA" video games, the belief that there is nothing stopping a video game from becoming art, and Roger Ebert's declaration that such a feat was impossible.

By examining concepts like narratology and ludology, seeking the opinions of people in the industry and demonstrating parallels with emerging forms of the past, I argued that widespread acceptance of games as art is assured.

I was especially delighted with the responses I recieved from people in the industry, notably Robyn Millar and Jonathan Blow.

Read it online here, or download the PDF.

How can video games transcend craftsmanship and become art?

No Publicity were a three or four piece rock/punk band.

Immortalised in home-burnt CDRs with photocopied inserts, we recorded and released He Stole My Prawn in 2003 and Antisocial Behaviour in 2006. The latter is still available online via Last.fm. The former is a wonderful trip back to a time when it was alright to make your album art in MS Paint.

My involvement with the music scene around our high school resulted in two charity concerts, LemonAid and MarmalAid, which in the years after my departure inspired CherryAid, PowerAid, MermAid and more recently GrenAid, organised by kids who most likely have no idea who we are. These concerts have raised thousands of pounds for charity.

The Wayback Machine has an amusing archive of our old website (and my past web design sins).

We are perhaps best summarised by our old motto: "four idiots, two guitars, no talent".

Created with Joe McDermot, Bob Goldie, Mitch Brown, Jamie Russell, Ryan Gordon and Dave Currie.