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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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…

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Diana Thater, Life is a Time-Based Medium, 2015
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Olifur Eliasson, Your Uncertain Shadow, 2010 
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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.

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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…

Week 6: Project Pitch – The Multi-Sensory Experience.

My idea for a final project for this subject would be to engage the viewer in a multi-sensory experience. During class we were given the chance to mind-map our fields of practice and our interests, and brainstorm ideas that would align with those. My mind map was… messy – however it greatly clarified the type of project I would like to undertake in the future for this subject.

The other students were then able to add their own feedback and ideas – however having overheard other students struggling to work out where exactly I was going with my thoughts (I thought I’d made it clear, though perhaps it was only clear to me!) I decided to come home and make the thought process a little clearer. From our mind-maps we were told to pitch an MVP (minimal viable project IIRC) – however I believe I would be able to turn this into a full-fledged final project.

I started by centering my initial concept – The immersive digital space. Around this, I placed my 4 key interests and practices: Photography, Digital Media, 3D work, and Sensory Experience. I was then able to link these keywords and create new ones by highlighting their commonalities, in which I was able to come up with concepts for works that I could create. From that I managed to combine several points of interest to create one MVP.

I recreated the mind-map at home to make it a little bit clearer:

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Pink indicates the core concepts and keywords linked directly to those concepts; yellow are ideas created by linking these keywords and concepts together.

The MVP pitch ended up sounding like this:
“To create a 360 degree photographic space viewed through a Virtual-Reality headset, accompanied with a soundscape with headphones”.

I realised upon creating this MVP that I wanted to expand upon this concept entirely and create an entire immersive and 3-dimensional space using sound, image, smells and textures.

There are a couple of artworks I could reference from various gallery visits, but I am particularly drawn to those from the 2012 Biennale in Sydney, entitled All Our Relations; and from the 2014 Biennale, entitled You Imagine What You Desire.

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Looking at all the above images of installations that I have previously experienced reminds me of the experiences I had when viewing them and interacting with them – all very clear memories. This is the kind of response I hope to have with my own work.

As stated previously, I want to expand on my own MVP – to include an entire room and incorporate smells, as well as have projections in 360 degrees of images of places with a soundscape in the room, perhaps with objects that can be interacted with.

I have still yet to decide on exactly the subject matter – however having experimented with soundscapes and panoramic photography in the past, I have a few ideas on how to go about it. I feel like this project would be best achieved in a group – however I am not above doing it myself if need be.