Week 13-15: The Final Work: “UNITY”

 

I was absent during week 13, but the boys used the time to work out some of the technical sides of the work. They managed to get the sound working through the laptop, and get all the footage of the hands aligned together and working properly.

We met up in week 14 on Thursday, so that we could set up the last of the project, look over the artists statement and discuss our presentation.

I must admit that the final work did resonate with me and I was happy with where we got – especially given the difficulties we had throughout the semester of settling on a concept and the technical issues that followed.

While setting up the TO Glen advised us to use a second laptop with a splitter so that we could have 3 larger projectors and do away with the crappy Qumis entirely (yay!). A bit of tinkering with the set up and some re-alignment later, and the work looked fantastic. We added some decent speakers so that we could actually hear the sound playing.

 

Unfortunately we did have some sound syncing issues which were the result of using two separate laptops without the ability to start all 4 sets of footage at the same time – if we were to change one thing about the work, it would be to figure out a way that this wouldn’t be an issue and that the sound was more effective.

I personally felt that the work stood as a metaphor for our own journey of creation – that we had our differences, so we started again with a blank canvas and worked together to create something fun and interactive by stripping the layers back and working with our skills and what we learned from experimenting. This fuelled our narrative, which I then turned into an artist’s statement.

When discussing, we thought about how our work represented the following:

“We decided to include a variety of symbols to act as the basis of our work. Using hands as a symbol of being able to recognise a person (2nd to a person’s face); the black background acts as a simple and even playground for all the hands; the different forms of tapping representing the diversity of people, each with a different beat and rhythm, but ultimately all playing as one; and the large hand in the middle in the shape of a fist acting as the heart of the entire group constantly beating with everyone around it. The purpose of the blocking of different hands is to show that people come and go, whether it be someone known for a long time, or someone new entering.”

I then went and deduced the main points from our discussion:

  • Black background a ‘playground’ blank canvas to build upon from the imagination
  • Hands work together to create something together
  • Unity through diversity – differentiality creates something unique and wholesome
  • Large hand in centre is the ‘heart’; keeps time and direction, the common ground that pulls everything together
  • You can block the hands but they are still heard – you cannot stop the noise and you cannot hide all the hands at once by yourself – the hands are not oppressed by your presence or by you trying to silence them

 

Which we then turned into our final artists statement below. Overall I’m glad I stepped back and gave the group work another chance, while my vision for a final project was vastly different to what we ended up producing, I was still very happy with the final result.

UNITY

Media Projection

Will, Mackenzie, Robert, Chloe

The world is a connected place, now more than ever; across continents we have the ability to collaborate and create.

We start with a black canvas – a playground where we can build from our imaginations. We can use this canvas to tell stories, to design, to make art. We start from nothing – we put our hands together and produce something tangible to be seen and heard.

UNITY Explores the result of many hands coming together to construct from the bare. It is a story of uniting our own experiences, our skills and our imaginations to forge something new and unique: using our diversity to form something wholesome, and to illustrate this story to a rhythm. It proclaims that creativity cannot be silenced with intervention if we come together.

The centre is the heart – the starting point on our canvas, the guiding structure that keeps time and gives us direction – the motivation. It composes the overall beat – with the surrounding hands cooperating to build multiple layers.

You can try to block the hands but the others are still present – they are still heard; you cannot stop the noise, and they are not oppressed by your presence. You cannot silence them.

People may come and go – but with a blank canvas, diversity, and creativity, you can collaboratively build something unique and different each time you come together.

UNITY uses multiple projections timed to a solid beat to create an immersive and interactive story-telling experience with the audience. The audience member may try to place themselves in the scene, to obstruct or to support in the collaboration.

Week 11: On Jamming/ Push and Pull

Our task for this week was to disagree.

Considering we’d already been doing that all semester, I feel like we’d sort of already come to an impasse, and then we had finally begun to understand each other and not really feel like it was necessary to disagree any longer. Instead we retreated to the classroom, away from the studio, and decided to work on expanding our concept.

In order to fulfill our task we decided to split up into pairs and work on two different concepts, and then debate our concepts at the end. We needed to keep in mind a narrative for our concepts so that our art told a story.

I’d just been out a few nights prior shooting the night sky and my mind was sort of still wrapped up in the stars – literally. I decided to work with this and the feeling I got when looking at the stars by combining it with the work we’d been doing in the weeks prior and work with our shadows.

18301576_1874895292536334_8166833784286483304_n
The image I took that I decided to separate into layers and have us ‘flying through space’ with.

My concept was to have us sort of flying through space, layering the stars so that as we walked amongst the different projectors, we would be placing ourselves in space itself. It would add another dimensional layer and maintain interactivity.

This was challenging to say the least, and did take a lot of the workshop time to figure out how to divide effectively. I ended up having to make each layer move slower for the ‘further’ away it was supposed to be, and making each layer become bigger to give the zooming effect. You can see the two stars layers in these videos:

 

These were layered over the background, which was projected from the roof so you couldn’t walk in front of it:

 

I added some effects to the stars to make them look twinkling and then to the background layer so that it looked like the galaxy cloud was blooming.

Unfortunately when we put all 3 together it didn’t look very effective as the Qumi projectors just weren’t powerful enough to handle the images, so the background was overpowering while the stars were very faint.

We did like this concept, and the other half of the group saw narrative potential within the work. Not only was flying through space appealing, but there was also the unintentional story of light pollution that we told with the piece. By standing in front of the lights and interfering with our bodies, it was a sort of metaphor for the way that human obstruction was ruining the night sky – the more you obstructed it, the less stars you could see – which with light pollution, the more human interference with lights, the less stars were visible as they had to compete for brightness.

By the end of the workshop time though, we decided that it wasn’t a strong enough concept for us to continue going with it so we agreed to form a group chat online so that we could work together over the next week and come up with something new.

Week 10: Presenting your work

Our projected work: 1. What it looked like on the wall. 2. The background.
3. The cut out figures that were overlapped.

This week was fairly short and straightforward. We were very short for time this week in terms of experiments – and as we had kept changing our ideas in the previous weeks, we hadn’t really settled on a solid concept yet. We decided to just present the optical illusion from last week with the figures in front of the lake. People seemed to like the work, however the common point of feedback was that they have already seen this sort of illusion in our previous work – and that we now need to work on a narrative and a way to expand our projections and interactivity to actually mean something.

We got to look at the work of other groups too – we weren’t the only ones who’d really been struggling to find a solid path, and some other groups seemed to know what they wanted to do and had settled on a narrative right from the beginning and were pretty far along.

Not to worry though – we always have next week to continue blocking it out!

Week 9: Interactive Process

This week was… Interesting.

We ended up going two completely different directions – but that’s okay. After last week, I knew that we had creative differences and the only way to get through that was to just keep working through it. I’ll go through what I had planned first, and then what we ended up going with in the end.

So after last week’s disagreement, I decided to go home and continue working down the path that we had started, with the aim of extending the work beyond what we started with. I felt that the projections were flat, and while interactive, lacked a third dimension. So I went about moving the work into an imaginary corner to turn a one-dimension work into a 3-dimensional cube-like space.

The aim was to have 3 projectors: one mounted to the roof, and two on the floor. The one on the roof would span the gap of both corners and project horizontal lines, where the two on the floor (pointed at the opposite walls so that the projections cross) would extend outwards and create a 3D effect. Artist’s impression below…

artists impression 2.jpg

I created 2 sets of animations – the arrows for the left, the right, and the lines travelling down. I’ll admit it hurt my eyes to create but it was fun to play around with. I ended up doing both colour and black and white – I think I liked the black and white more. I made up a video of how the animations would look with all the layers together (not projected).

 

Very trippy – I would have loved to have seen it projected into a corner – however we ended up having to create a contingency plan as the gallery was full and there were no corner spaces available for us to play around in (sadface).

So instead we went with the boys’ idea of creating something visual and working with optical illusions.

They liked the idea of the drawings that had another image hidden in them, and wanted to use the shadow illusion effect as an advantage to interact and interfere with the illusion itself.

This was very difficult to work with though, as the additive colour of the overlapping projections didn’t really want to work in our favour.

We tried to trouble shoot by cutting some figures from our chosen image out to overlay, but we found that it ruined the effect – so instead we kept the original image, separated the figures we liked, and then cloned in the gaps to create a complete background that we placed the figures over the top of.

In the first image above you can see the complete illusion: A moustached man created by elements of the background and the figures. In the second image I have removed 2 human figures in the foreground and cloned in the background behind them with photoshop, so that we could project these over the top. In the 3rd image we experimented with silhouetting the figures so that we could overlay the cut out images.

In this instance we ended up using the second and last pictures – although with the overlapping projections, you could still see straight through the figures. It ended up looking like this:

edited.jpg

Not what we were aiming for, but still effective. The illusion was still there and you were still able to block the two figures.

By the end of it though, we felt the effort that took to produce it outweighed the practicality and effectiveness of the work itself so we decided to brainstorm at home and see what else we could come up with.

Week 8: Experimentation

Unfortunately we had a bit of a disagreement in where we were going to go next with our project – partly because we weren’t really communicating effectively as a team. I left the workshop quite upset at the conclusion of the class, about ready to give up and work solo. I spoke to Jo and Matt, though, and they urged me to give it another go – so I did.

The group and I had some very different ideas of how to experiment; I wanted to work more with multi-sensory lights, lines, colours, and general mind-bending – staying true to the original project, keeping the playfulness of the interaction we’d created. However, the boys wanted to move on to optical illusions and imagery. We decided to work on that next week and continued what we were doing today.

What we ended up doing this week was working with lines instead. I’d spent the lesson creating something very similar to what we did last week, only this time I added lines moving vertically and horizontally across each other while the colours changed. When this was rendering too slowly, Will stepped in and recreated similar on his faster laptop, but with wavy lines instead – so we used that to present with. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of it but I did get some ideas from the ensuing discussion.

The result of this week’s experimentation was that when someone walked through the light of one projector, then the shadow of that projection would be filled in by the directional lines of the other. It was quite fun to look at, and even trippy at times.

artists impression
Pretty much how it worked – 2 projectors projecting different coloured lines – when you stand in front of one projector the shadow blocks that colour and is filled by the other.

 

We went home with differing opinions on where to go next, and on Matt and Jo’s suggestion, I decided to try what I’d thought of during class in the week ahead.

I’ll update the progress on that for next week’s blog.

Blog Post #2: Delving Deeper into the Underbelly of Online Communications

10277_53_blog_entries_3519_656x500
Despite the fact that this looks like she’s written this in word to herself – does anyone actually talk like this online? Let’s find out.

Warning: This blog post contains some very harsh language.

There are two things I’d like to cover in this blog post: firstly, gathering responses from other people’s experiences online, and secondly, to streamline the points to cover in my digital artefact and seminar to be presented in week 9.

Over the past week I have engaged with some auto-ethnographical research methods to gather some answers to two questions, on either side of the negative communications spectrum – those that have ‘dished it’ and those that have ‘taken it’. As a disclaimer, I’d like to stress that these are just samples of responses that I have received – they do not reflect the entire situation. Some responses have been edited for continuity, grammar and spelling; all participants will remain unnamed on this blog.

The first question (as posted on Reddit):
What’s your favourite ‘abusive’ message you’ve received online (gaming, youtube, etc)?
I seem to have issues cracking the secret to a succesful Reddit thread; I only got a few responses to this, but what I did receive was useful. The question is ambiguously worded, and deliberately so; I chose the word “favourite” so as not to antagonise anyone into remembering any triggering memories, and to prompt some more of the entertaining responses that may not have been to harmful.

“”Come fight me, bro!” as he proceeded to give me his number and address …”

“I got told to hang myself with my mouse because some salty kid had the urge to PM me after a match cause i kicked his ass. Jokes on him its wireless!”

“Not exactly an “abusive” message, but a guy kept harassing me to do something that I kept telling him I wasn’t going to do, and in the end he just told me “Now the dream is dead.” … I used to make and sell fantasy attire for Second Life and I had made a set of pauldrons / bracers, and about a year later, he was asking me why there wasn’t leg armor and demanding I make it and give it to him. (so nothing exciting)”

“”Everything was great until OP started begging for money. Dont ask people to support your hobby. Go find a job and support yourself.” … “Just because you know how to make some doodles doesn’t mean you can earn a living with it.” … “he’s not even that good”
Response from one person on imgur to me putting a link to my patreon at the bottom of a series of Dark Souls boss monster drawings that I did.”

“Not very abusive towards me but I was playing CS:GO and someone got a triple kill with the pp-bizon and decided he would write in chat: “Get raped” … “By my pp””

“Had this friend who was a mute chick on League of legends. Back then, my username was KuroTheCat and I would sometimes just pretend to be a cat to annoy people.
Since she was mute, she would only type when we skyped but she always used your instead of you’re. After a while, I told her she should really correct it. She flipped out and went into a long rant about how it was who she was and she would change whenever she wanted.
So I deleted her. The next morning she sent me an essay of how I was a horrible human being but she topped it off with “And BTW you’re not a fucking cat””

While there were not a lot of responses, I was pleased with the variety of responses I received. I am concerned that the notion of rape was brought up in such a small sample pool – I wonder if the ratio of comments of sexual nature would change should I have had a greater response. I was previously under the impression that these kind of comments were not all that common – I personally haven’t received any notable responses of a sexually charged nature. I will elaborate on my own experiences in my seminar.

The second question (asked in numerous Discord channels):
Have you ever been combanned/banhammered from online communications? If so what was it you said that got you banned? Did you feel any remorse for your actions and did you think there would be consequences?
This question was a little more loaded than the last one – only a few managed to answer the third part of the question, however. I believe I will have to dig a little more deeply in order to find the psychology behind these behaviours – perhaps by finding some more scholarly sources.

“I was only banned once, but I dont remember what it was for, so :/”

“Been banned in a twitch chat for using 3 emotes to type out kek”

“I’ve never been banned from anywhere, as far as I remember. My brother, however, was banned in Maplestory due to drama spread by his then-girlfriend. Ended up getting kicked from a guild, and I guess the drama was enough to ban him from the game.”

“I got banned from league of legends for being salty in one game. I called someone a dick waffle twat. … [then] I got banned from minecraft for… You gotta wait for this… Having my brightness on full. So I don’t need torches in the dark. It was either that or the fact that I was a bit rude to the mod that pointed it out. I think I said something along the lines of. “Because your blind ass can’t see in the dark doesn’t mean I can’t” Which wasn’t even that bad. I got banned on a different server for saying “Where do I buy some fine booty” … and I’m not even joking”

“Been banned on some unturned server for telling an admin to “chill the fuck out you autistic spastic” … the admin was being an autistic lil spas so … oh better one … another one in unturned banned from another server for walking up to an admin and saying “hello” that got me a perma ban cracked me up XD”

“I got banned many times as a kid, it was because I was an asshole. I used to be a lot more abrasive … I remember one time I got banned for racism because I was trying to explain to some guy that banning jokes is fucking retarded. That was a fun day – he got so mad … Sometimes its how I’d acted for years on that forum and sone [sic] guy just got pissy about it. Sometimes I didn’t care or I felt I was making a moral stand.”

“[The second time] I got combanned for calling the kid a scrub … [the first time for] saying either fucker bitch or cunt.”

There are some great and varied responses here – examples of minor rules being broken and some examples of outright abusive communications behaviour. I feel that those that answered the question and showed no remorse did so because they believed the receiving party deserved the harsh words, or that they were made in good faith that the other party would not find it offensive. Which brings me to another point of investigation that I’d like to look at – the difference between banter and abuse.

Capture3_censored
Unlike the last image, this actually happened. Someone seemed to be confused as to whether this was banter, or real bullying. The two have since reconciled over the misunderstanding.

Coming to this point of the study,  I may have been too ambitious and I feel I need to dial back on the mass of topics lest I become overwhelmed. Refining this study into a series of dot points to use as headers looks like the way to proceed.

So, what are we really looking at here?

  • The difference between banter and bullying
  • When trolling becomes harassment – what’s the difference?
  • Real life consequences: doxxing and swatting
  • Is this an indication on how we’ll treat our AI citizens in the future?

Given the seminar is 20 minutes long, it seems to make sense that I will spend 4 minutes on each point, and use the remaining 4 minutes to introduce the topic, conclude my hypotheses, and explain my approach to the digital artefact – how I will present this information. I am leaning towards a series of 4 youtube videos or blog posts at this point.

Week 7: Recreation and Material Discourse

This week was a little more interesting than the previous weeks – we have now moved on from researching to actually doing things! Our task for today was to choose a category that we felt aligned to our interests. The categories were:

  • Expressing Digitality
    • Textuality and expression
  • Variable Materiality
    • Materials and immaterial processes
  • Multisensory Interaction
    • Light, shadows, and displacement
  • (Re)configuring Spacetime
    • story-telling through sound,  image and interaction
  • Generativity: Difference and Repetition
    • Algorithm and Reproducibility

If you’ve kept up with my posts so far – you’ll know that my choice was obvious – Multisensory Interaction.

We were then grouped up into teams that also chose that same concept and then given a choice of 3 works to recreate. In our category, the 3 works were…

1503haus24arret_-_life_is_a_time_based_medium_-_05_-_web
Diana Thater, Life is a Time-Based Medium, 2015
haf_20140501_0823
Olifur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow, 2010 
afrum-pale-pink-1968_pacew1
James Turrell, Afrum (1966-67)

We chose to re-create Olifur Eliasson’s Your Uncertain Shadow (2010) – one of two groups to pick this work. It was very interesting to see our different approaches to this work, which I will elaborate on later. Firstly, though, I will outline our process to our final product.

Firstly we had a brief look at the original work and how it was created – by placing different coloured lights in proximity to each other, each of the shadows were a different colour as the shadow blocked the illumination of the other lights. By having multiple lights lined up in a row, multiple shadows are produced, all different colours. Knowing this, our first approach to the work was to borrow about 5 lights from the TO Glen, with different coloured gels (cellophane-like coloured plastic that changes the colour of the light beam). While we were waiting for them, however, we had a quick chat with Matt who suggested we use projectors instead – this appealed to us as another group had chosen the same artwork to recreate – and had been using lights with gels. We settled on 3 projectors (not too large a number so as to disadvantage others in our class) as we had the ability to change their colour at any given time. This gave me an idea.

5
I left the other boys in the group to set up while I ran off to the computer lab to set up something special.

Why settle for a static colour when we could have ALL of the colours?

I had a few hurdles to overcome, mostly being a little rusty with the chosen programs I wanted to use that would help me achieve the vision I had – a loop of a block of colour changing through the entire rainbow spectrum, set to start at different times. But then I thought I could take this even further still. We had 3 projectors – so I could have 3 sets of these spectrums playing at different speeds! This would mean that no 3 colour combinations would be the same for the duration of the 5 minute loop.

Here’s where we get into the really technical stuff behind the project. The idea was now to project the entire colour spectrum animated to different speeds and there for creating many different colour combinations where no two were the same. I decided that the entire spectrum would be shown through one slow, medium and fast speed – 30 seconds, 15 seconds, and 10 seconds respectively. The idea here was that by the time one slow loop was done, two medium speed ones would be finished, and three fast speed ones would play through. I set these to repeat for five minutes, as there is a loading screen between each loop on the Qumi projectors that we used which tended to be quite jarring as we had discovered the first time we set up our projection.

After timing the loops effectively, the next hurdle we had to overcome was the fact that the Qumi projectors apparently didn’t like playing the quicktime format (you’d think that being forced to export into that format through an industry standard program that it would be a little more technology friendly, but alas…) so after a quick chat with Glen he informed me that the computers have a program called Handbrake that can convert quicktime files to the more user-friendly mp4 format. After many trips back and forth and waiting for over 15 minutes for all the projects and loops to render and convert, I finally had something workable. I rushed back to the now empty gallery (I assumed everyone was on break – they were not. Awkward.) and set up the projectors to play the loops.

The last hurdle we encountered was that one of the Qumi projectors just… sort of looked like it was giving up on life. It was dull and faded, and barely visible – which when testing out the result of our work, had a significant impact. I couldn’t show this to the class! So I waited until another group had finished presenting to borrow one of theirs. A quick change and we were ready to present.

Before moving on to the discussion shared with the class, I will show you the final results – I think they looked fantastic!

These images were taken about 30 seconds apart from each other and I love all of them.

I pitched our process to the class for the class discussion. What made this particularly interesting was the comparison to the way the other group tackled the same work. They used a black box (small black soundproof room) with a white screen set up in the center. On the back end they used 2 lights of differing colours, and on the front they used 3 lights. The result was very soft colourful gradients moving into each other with soft shadows. The audience were free to roam on either side of the screen which enhanced the shadow effect and created many different colours. The audience played with the scale of their shadows and even interacted with the audience member on the other side of the screen. It was quite playful and if I could describe the work using one word, it would be ‘soft’.

In comparison, ours felt a lot sharper and the colours much more pronounced. It reminded me of the older ipod ads – or an 80s music video. To me it felt quite psychedelic, and this was something that others picked up on too. It was great to watch the class interact with the work, standing there for 30 seconds on average to observe the different colours that their shadows created. An unexpected effect of layering the rainbows on top of each other with the projectors was that a large rectangle in the center stayed largely white – and acted as sort of a blank canvas to experiment with form and colour. It would have been great to have a camera on a tripod capturing the interactions on this blank canvas through a long exposure photograph.

If I were to revisit this work in the future, I would add 2 more projectors and experiment with each projector not just going through the entire spectrum, but have them change from a gradient of two or three colours exclusively (for example, red to yellow to green, or blue to purple to pink) and overlay those. It would take a lot of experimentation to come up with something that audiences would find very playful to interact with. I really like the idea of the shadow being split up into different colours – it feels like different facets of the self that you are interacting with.

12-years-and-counting-the-amazing-life-of-apples-ipod
One of the promo images from the 12-year-old iPod ads which I felt strongly resonated within this experimental project.

I could see myself incorporating this into my MVP if I were to change from the headset idea – I could place proximity sensors around the room and rig them to play sounds when you come near them. I could use the entire black box space and make the walls white and place multiple projectors and lights around the room to have the shadows reflect on all the walls instead of one. It is definitely something to consider…