Off the Lip 2016 - Manufactory

20 and 21 October 2016

CogNovo Manufactory

During the evenings of Thursday 20 October and Friday 21 October 2016, we invite you to participate in some workshops at Plymouth University. On Thursday at 6pm you will have the chance to learn about eye movement and a number of technologies that are used in hospitals as well as universities to study them. This talk will be from 6pm until 7pm and we will provide some light snacks so that you don't have to worry about your nutrition after your lectures, work, and school. From 7pm on you will have the chance to participate either in a workshop on drawing, you can get technical in creating a virtual reality, or you can learn how to use your voice in the fantasy orchestra. On Friday you can either continue in the drawing or singing workshop, or you could instead learn how to program a real robot, or even participate in a multisensory wine tasting. What a start into the exciting weekend that will see the first "CogNovo Bizarre Bazaar" ever!

All the events during the Cognovo Manufactory are free, but you need to sign up for most of them to allow us better planning. We have set up easy registration through eventbrite which allows you to register just by leaving your name and email address. If that doesn't work for you for some reason, please send us an email request instead.

Seeing is believing: You are not a camera

Nothing in vision is as it seems. Vision has evolved over millions of years to benefit survival - not to represent physical reality. The basis of vision is the variety of opsin molecules in photoreceptors that underpin spatial and colour perception. In mammals, opsins have been genetically lost under environmental pressure from dinosaurs, but also gained when human vision evolved about 60 million years ago, presumably to allow us to eat ripe leaves. At the same time the primate fovea evolved, a retinal region where photoreceptors and ganglion cells are densely packed to provide very acute vision. Foveas are evolutionary expensive. They require an endless stream of saccadic eye movements to point the eyes at visual regions of interest. Our brains play a perceptual trick so that we see the world as steady even though the image on the retina is constantly changing. Foveas develop in a complex sequence of embryological and post-natal cascade of retinal and brain developments. Sometimes genetic or congenital abnormalities occur, and the fovea may not function normally. Amazingly, this leads to life-long 'infantile' nystagmus, where the eyes oscillate back and forth. Yet, people with infantile nystagmus do not see the world as moving, and indeed they do not know that their eyes are moving. This may be why we cannot cure them. The more we learn about vision, the more we realise nothing is as it seems.

Prof Chris Harris

talk by: Chris Harris

Imperfect VR

presented by: Michael Straeubig
when: Thursday, 20/OCT 7pm to 9pm
free registration is required at:

Imperfect VR

Virtual Reality is making headlines again and many believe that it will become an omnipresent medium. With all the excitement around VR, the question is: will you consume or create? Imperfect VR is based on the idea that everyone can build their own virtual reality experiences and is inspired by the Imperfect Cinema (Allister Gall and Dan Paolantonio) which in turn is inspired by the essay "For an imperfect cinema" (Julio García Espinosa).

In this workshop we will create fun, quirky and imperfect VR with A-Frame and Google Cardboard. To take part, you do not need to have any prior experience in programming but you will need to bring a laptop and a recent smartphone. A-Frame is a beginner-friendly but capable framework. Google Cardboard allows you to use your smartphone as a VR device. I will cover the absolute basics, including how to up a server on your laptop, write HTML markup and code in JavaScript. Advanced participants receive support realizing their ideas in VR. After the workshop everyone should have a good understanding how to create their own VR world in a few lines of markup and code. We will also discuss politics of VR and perception (e.g. John Berger and James Elkins) and watch a little bit of Žižek. We are not aiming for a perfect reality but will have fun in the virtual.

(Because of technical differences in smartphone models your VR experience may be limited. You will still be able to build the virtual world. Cardboards will be provided to participants. We will use the "With Plymouth" network, which provides free Wifi for a limited number of hours per day. It is therefore crucial that you do not use this network before the workshop.)

The art of deception, an introduction to Sly-Chi

It's often said that seeing is believing, but many experiments and psychological phenomena are testimony to the fact that we don't really see the world the way that we think we do. Exploiting the gaps in our visual system, and the way in which attention can be controlled, is at the heart of illusion.

We have invited magician and researcher Stuart Nolan to host a workshop that will explore slight of hand conjuring and leading attention as well as demonstrating some of the methods he has developed with sports people that can help us develop skills to resist deception. In this workshop you will be invited to explore how we can deceive the grand illusion that is created by our visual system, as well as controlling our own attention.

presented by: Stuart Nolan, Hannah Drayson
when: Thursday, 20/OCT 7pm to 9pm
free registration is required at:

Fantasy Orchestra

presented by: Lucy Davies, Jesse D Vernon
when: Thursday 20/OCT 7pm to 9pm or Friday 21/OCT 6pm to 9pm
free registration is recommended at: and

Fantasy Orchestra lead by Jesse D Vernon

The Fantasy Orchestra is a community project led by Jesse D Vernon, based in Bristol and also in Paris. The Orchestra (motto: ‘more is more’) brings together 40+ musicians, professional and amateur, to create a kaleidoscopic symphonic brigade.

For Off the Lip 2016, Jesse will lead two vocal workshops, where you will explore repetition, harmonies and the effect that communal singing can have on your brain waves. The workshops will lead to a performance on the Saturday daytime during the CogNovo Bizarre Bazaar, where two choir members will have their brain waves visualised during the performance.

What do we do when we draw?

Drawing seems to be a very natural and universal activity from very early in our development even until the end drawing seems to be something that follows us through life. But what do we do when we draw? Although we often try to make likenesses of things that we see and admire others who can draw well the fact that we may not be good at drawing does not stop us when we need to make an image to explain something, make a plan, or apply cosmetics to our faces or doodle to amuse ourselves.

In these two workshops we will do some things together that might offer ideas about what happens when we draw. In the first on Thursday we will explore what happens when we involve our body and mind in the drawing process. In the first part we will try to make linear models of what we touch in plastic materials (it might be a little bit messy!) and then we will explore automatic drawing (with a dog as a model) - more or less drawing without thinking.
In the second workshop on Friday we will see what happens when we draw on film and project it. What happens when what we draw is transformed by a machine to become a fleeting image – is this still our mark? When we understand what changes in projection can we develop a skill so that we have some control over the experience of the viewer? We will also explore what happens when we introduce sound with the hand drawn moving image, noticing how we instinctively will sound and image to fall into sync through our innate propensity to entrain our perception. We will consider sound/image making and sound/image perception as an integrated, embodied and interactive process.
At the end we hope that we will have isolated some of the things that we do when we draw – process, perception and reflection - in a way that liberates the idea of drawing from making something that looks like something else.

The first session will be run by Michael Punt, Agi Haines, and Hannah Drayson. The second session "Drawing on film" is lead by Jacqui Knight and Sue Denham, with technical support by Guy Edmonds and Rupert Allen

Drawing Film

presented by: Michael Punt, Agi Haines, Jacqui Knight, Hannah Drayson, Sue Denham
when: Thursday 20/OCT 7pm to 9pm or Friday 21/OCT 6pm to 9pm
free registration is required at: or


presented by: Diego S. Maranan, Claire delle Luche
when: Thursday 20/OCT 7pm to 9pm and Friday 21/OCT 6pm to 9pm
free registration is required at: and

Haplós: Vibrating Clothing for Well-Being and Play

Experience what it's like to wear vibrating clothing that you can control and program! Haplós is an experimental wearable device aimed at helping users of the device to sense themselves better. This 'sensory hacking' technology is composed of a set of vibrating motors which run along the user¹s back and other parts of their body, and which can be controlled by a mobile phone. Users can create, record, and play back patterns of vibration. Haplós was designed by Diego Maranan (who is running the workshop) as part of his research at CogNovo into designing technologies for body awareness.

In this workshop, participants will be exploring Haplós through a series of guided and playful activities, and will be invited to give feedback what kind of features they may want to see in wearable technologies such as Haplós. Participation is limited to 10 participants and advance registration is required.

Learn to control a robot before it controls you!

Robots are increasingly becoming a part of our daily live. While previous generations only interacted with robots on movie screens and through fiction, most people living today have already had contact with robots or will most likely cooperate with one in the near future. Of course there isn't any danger of being controlled by robots, at least as long as they follow the three laws from the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D." as quoted by Isaac Asimov. Nevertheless it does not hurt to learn how to "give them orders".

In this introductory workshop you will get a basic understanding how to program a robot. During this hands on session you will create a programme that will be loaded on one of the robots that are used for research here at Plymouth University. Using the software Choregraphe you will make your first steps in robot programming, or better, you will make the robots do the steps. There is no prior experience required except some basic computing skills, and all materials will be provided.

Control Robots

presented by: Ilaria Torre, Joana Galvao, Lloyd Taylor, Emmanuel Senft
when: Friday, 21/OCT 6pm to 9pm
free registration is required at:

Multisensory Wine Tasting

Intuitively most people know that wine tasting is a multisensory event: it just tastes different if you order a glass in that small restaurant down there at the promenade at your favourite holiday location, the sun setting while you enjoy your drink with a nice platter of cheese and the band playing in the background. In this workshop we will invite you to travel through your minds in order to better understand the importance of all of your senses while experiencing a very special selection of imported wines.

Winemakers and sommeliers have known for a long time about the link between olfactory and taste, but surprisingly little research has been done on this in the past. We have invited one of the leading experts from the research community to host a workshop for you that will give you some background on the interplay between the different senses in regards to wine. You will learn how research can help you to enjoy your special glass even more.

Our atmospheric venue for the multi-sensory wine tasting experience is Mary Newman's Cottage, 51, Culver Road, Satlash, PL12 4DT. This Elizabethan cottage, built around 1480, is the oldest house in Saltash. The rooms have low ceilings and the floors are uneven so do take care when entering the building. The gardens at Mary Newmans, overlooking the River Tamar, are laid out in Elizabethan style, and should the weather be fine (as the forecast suggests) the wine tasting may take place in the garden courtyard. Please wear adequate warm clothing and sensible footwear. If it is too cool outside, the tasting will take place inside one of the ground floor rooms. There is a toilet on site.

Getting to Mary Newman's Cottage

It is possible to travel directly to Mary Newmans's Cottage by car. However, please note that there is no dedicated parking at the cottage. On street parking is available in nearby streets. If you are coming from Devon, we have arranged train travel from Plymouth. Please meet in the Roland Levinsky Main Reception at the University at 5:45pm. CogNovian Mihaela Taranu will walk with you to the station and catch the 18:14 train directly to Saltash. The journey only takes a thirteen minutes and the station is a few minutes walk from the cottage. The return train departs from Saltash at 21:03. If you would like to travel by train from Plymouth please contact us so that we can obtain a ticket for you.
Please note that the group will leave the main reception area at exactly 5:50pm to allow sufficient time to reach the station.

Ideomotor drawing workshop, reading minds and muscles

What do spiritualist séances, lie detection and mathematically gifted pigs have in common? The phenomenon of ideomotor movement, a psychological enigma in the 19th Century has a colourful history.

We have invited magician and researcher Stuart Nolan to host a drawing workshop that will explore the phenomenon of these unconscious, micro muscle movements and how we can read, record, and technologically detect them. We’ll be exploring how muscle reading and the techniques of automatic writing can help us to think about drawing practices, as well as the relationship between conscious thought, action and the imagination.

presented by: Stuart Nolan, Hannah Drayson
when: Friday, 21/OCT 6pm to 9pm
free registration is required at: