Muralista!: Installation Complete

Panel #3 begun - an installation shot taken by one of my friends as they passed by.

Panel #3 begun – an installation shot taken by one of my friends as they passed by

My timeline this semester was as follows: March 10 – Discovery meetings March 29 – I received final approval for installation from the Committee on Student Life April 12 – I picked up my paint from Mo Gallagher @ Facilities April 17 – I started install of Panel #2 – finished on May 1, 14 days total on install April 30 – I started install of Panel #1 – finished on May 9, 9 days total on install May 8 – I started install of Panel #3 – finished on May 12, 4 days total on install Discovery meeting recap: We tried a traditional discovery meeting first: in the lobby of Hill on a Friday afternoon, with a GHD and the head of ResLife in attendance. Only two people showed up, and they were both friends I’d asked to come. I don’t think the people who walked by were aware that it was a meeting, either. After about half an hour, we gave up. After that, I thought we should do a more informal approach. So on March 10, right before spring break, I sat in the Hill House lobby for two and a half hours with copies of my concept art, and asked everyone who walked past to talk about the project with me. I spoke to around 20 students and residents during that time, and made notes of any feedback past “good project”:
  • “This is great! This building… it needs something. It really needs something.”
  • “I’m glad you’re doing it, these walls are so white.”
  • “I think that’s a great idea, murals would be great.”
  • “I’m not a very creative person but that looks really pretty.”
  • “I feel like people don’t know the history of these spaces (ie Common Ground and Westlands). I’m just starting to figure it out now. (Being a first year POC) is really hard, and isolating. (This project) is great. Thank you.”
  • “I love it, I think it’s going to be so awesome.”
  • “It’ll be awesome to have some people of color on these white walls… especially because first years in Hill… we don’t go out as much.”
  • “I really like it, the colors are good too.”
  • “These colors are great!”
My concept art looked like this:

Panel #1: The sit-in at Westlands in 1989, led by Concerned Students of Color.

Panel #2 - my friend Lindsey dancing at a show during the fall semester.

Panel #2 – my friend Lindsey dancing at a show during the fall semester.

Panel #3 - my friends Karen and Martine in Common Ground, a space created from the demands of the 1989 sit-in.

Panel #3 – my friends Karen and Martine in Common Ground, a space created from the demands of the 1989 sit-in.

Moving forward: With feedback from discovery meetings, I felt confident moving into the installation process. I met with the Committee on Student Life on March 29 and presented my project to them. They also had an overwhelmingly positive response, and voted to allow my installation and to keep it up indefinitely. Having received that final permission, I went to head of Facilities, Mo Gallagher, who’d promised to buy some of the paint I’d use for the project. She bought me five gallons of paint in eggshell finish, and a gallon of anti-graffiti topcoat. I picked it up on April 12 and brought it to my studio. Then I began the process of transferring my concept art to the walls of Hill. To place outlines in such a narrow hallway, I created 9’ x 4’ sheets of paper in Heimbold, projected my reference images onto the paper, and traced them with an extra-soft pencil. I brought the tracings to the hallway in Hill, hung them on the wall, and rubbed over the lines with a paintbrush handle to place an outline. I used that outline as a skeleton, providing a basic structure for the images to develop within. Installation recap: All I can say is wow. This was a really intense, draining experience in ways that I didn’t anticipate. I had a ton of fun doing it – I was able to blast music and play around with colors and watch an empty space be filled in by motion and history and color. But at the same time, it was a struggle to get it all done. There were time constraints that meant loooong and sleepless nights working alone under the fluorescent lights, hundreds of people walking through my worksite every day and often offering unsolicited advice, and difficulty with paint – both in mixing dozens of colors from a limited palette, and with the physical supplies, which vandals kicked over late at night while I napped in another room. Despite those challenges, it was a transformative and rewarding experience: watching the first reactions people had to color being added, hearing everyone’s pleasure as the panels filled in and the project progressed, and ultimately hearing from a few people that they were looking forward to living in Hill next year, because of the murals. I am immensely grateful to have ended my time at Sarah Lawrence like this. Snapshots from installation:
Post mortem: I am still recovering from this project and don’t know if I have the space to do an appropriate post-mortem. But I’ll give it my best shot: In retrospect, I should have put the side by side murals on the opposite wall. People rounding the corner from the parking lot entrance of Hill saw that side first, and there was a lot of empty space that was left unfilled that looks a little strange. I would, in the future, try to avoid at all costs doing an installation like this in three weeks. I didn’t sleep at all the last week of working, and spent more than a few nights during the weeks previous curled up on the closest sofa for a quick nap before going back to work. Next time I would like to make more direct visual overlap between the three images – without any contextualizing text or information, there aren’t a lot of obvious links between them. In the future, doing a triptych of this sort, I would spend more time putting the images into a cohesive pattern. It’s been a pleasure doing this exhausting, frustrating, incredible project. I am a different artist and person than I was before I started it. I’m sad that I won’t be around to see how next year’s Hill residents react to it, but I’m sure I’ll hear about it from them at some point.

Systems Aesthetics: An Artist Is Not A Isolated System

IMG_9959 For my conference project, I decided to do a sculpture based on the artist Hans Haacke and my understanding of systems. Hans Haake was the main inspiration for my conference project however I also took from the ideas of sculpture from Damien Hirst, linking to his use of large glass vitrines and his exploration of air and its relationship with movement. The simplicity of these works stood out to me and became the basis for the formation of my conference project mixed with the classes evolution of our understanding of systems. Looking at Hirst’s “What Goes Up Must Come Down” 1994, “Mental Escapology” 2012, “I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now” 1991 and Hans Haacke’s “Blue Sail” 1964 – 1965, and (Angela’s favourite) “Condensation Cube” 1965 (2006) (2013), I created my “An artist is not an isolated system”. Taking from their simplicity in materials, in display and focus; this work stands in between Hirst and Haacke. 2005-185-a-b_02_d02 hans-haacke-condensation-cube DHS3089view2rt3_771_0 DHS1841rt_s_771_0 DHS4632v2_c_771_0 I had this work envisioned in my mind, however as I was testing it out and constructing it, it did not go exactly as planned. I found that some of the fans I had purchased and tested out were not strong enough so therefore did not make the ping pong balls jump around the case like I had envisioned. I wanted constant active movement in my work and the air was to be the instigator of this. A minimalist structure would be the base for this however as I began experimenting the idea – the work began to evolve itself, shifting the system I had planned and the outcome I had proposed. IMG_9938 Researching Hans Haacke for my conference I found a variety of interesting statements from him revolving around systems, art and the museum space which became another level to the transformation of my ideas and the evolution of the work; “The artist’s business requires an involvement in practically everything… The total scope of information he receives day after day is of concern.” “When works of art are presented like rare butterflies on the walls, they’re decontextualized. We admire their beauty, and I have nothing against that, per se. but there is more to art than that” “Museums are not normally presenting the works on the walls as provocations to work. It’s more like going to a Jacuzzi” “An artist is not an isolated system. In order to survive he has to interact continuously with the world around him… Theoretically there are no limits to his involvement.” When speaking about his piece, “Mental Escapology”, Damien Hirst states “My idea of a perfect art piece would be a perfect sphere in the centre of a room. You would come in and walk around it; it would just be there, floating without strings or wires”. I am reflecting on this in my piece – playing with simple visual trickery. Throughout the semester, I think we had been constantly searching for immense action and change in each of the systems we studied and created and instead (with my work) the power sits in the cleanliness and subtly of the changes that occur within. Playing with the presumption that something drastic may occur at some stage also becomes a part of the system, manipulating the viewers expectancy when interacting with the work. I think the use of the text and the Hans Haacke quote adds another layer of meaning and significance. The power of the work does not lie in the constant and large movement of the ping pong balls jumping around the cube like I had planned for the piece, but instead is the combination of the text, the slight movements of the balls and the sound of the fan. I envision the work in a large white room, standing solitary in the middle of a sterile room in which the sound of the fan fills up the space and only movement is seen when being with the piece for an extended period for of time. Movement of the audience also becomes essential to the piece in order for the viewer to read the text around the cube, however this system does not need an audience nor cares for it to continuously evolve. The text can also be read differently from person to person as it can be read as a wrap around or focusing on each side of the cube – how the viewer reads this all changes everyone’s experience and perception of the work. Its self evolution may be slight but now I prefer that to my original intention of having the balls jump all around the perspex box. Preferably I would have the fan be the same size as the cube therefore it is cleaner and tighter visually, however I do not this this effects the power and/or message of the work overall. By just using white ping pong and black texts this minimises the possibility of distractions and instead the eye becomes more focused on the subtlety of the movement and the meaning of the text. IMG_9962 If I were to redo and reshape the piece, I would work with perhaps different materials such as feathers, cellophane – lighter materials that would move easily with the power of the fan. I would also consider working with a smaller cube and perhaps making 2 or 3 with different materials. Overall I am pleased with how my piece turned out. I think at the beginning of the semester I would have never done anything like this. The title “An artist is not an isolated system” is essential. The artist is never static, everything can be an inspiration and a starting point in which a system can be found and evolve from that point on.

Radical Games: Her Eyes Post-Mortem

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.25.13 PM Her Eyes is a game that has been through so many iterations and pivot it’s goal is almost entirely alien from the original idea. That being said, the look of the game has remained very consistent from my end and even though I’ve had to rethink over and over the way characters and the world worked, I always felt like I was working within the safe frame of the general world I had created and the art that expressed that world. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.26.26 PM As it stands, the game is roughly half done, maybe less. While the majority of the assets are made, a number are still planned out, and the larger meat of the game, that being encounters, has yet to be worked in. Building such meaningful encounters in the time I had is what I struggled with the most during this cycle and what I would’ve wanted to put more time and thought it. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.30.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.22.57 PM What surprised me was how easily I found the art to do. In other ventures towards the visual world, I always found myself getting hung up on the details of what I drew and how they didn’t look exactly right because I was rushed or just couldn’t eyeball something well enough. With pixel art, I found the amount of precision and abstraction allowed me to make pieces of art that I truly felt proud of. While I wouldn’t say the game had any strong influences artistically, I do think my most recent play throughs of games like LISA and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery did influence certain character designs, narrative themes, world building, and NPC interaction. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.32.05 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.31.37 PM Looking back, I feel that the two things I learned the most were exactly that. That meaningful encounters is the hard part, and art in this capacity is what I was strongest with. Know that earlier on would’ve helped me better allocate time and energy to maximize the potential of the product. Strangely, I never found the time to make music or sound for the game. The reason this is strange is that I’m a musician and one would think the music is what would come naturally. Pointing out then that I do not consider myself a visual artist, it is intriguing that the thing I found most uncomfortable at first (art) became the easiest and what I was more familiar (narrative, music) took longer and I was less pleased with the result. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.24.42 PM  Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.13.25 PM  

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

four_eyes_large When making my GIFs, I drew inspiration from the styles of Paula Scher, Daniel Buren, and Anni Albers. Paula Scher and Daniel Buren often evoke bright color schemes, which was something I wanted to experiment with this semester. Albers created patterns that were very concerned with movement on the page – some of her designs are almost optical illusions – and I wanted to carry that concept over to my GIFs. My first attempt at a GIF as the one below – I call it “The Disappearing Button.” l started by creating the red and black button background, then overlaid a large white button across the top. Because of the way that the background moves and the white spaces connect, the white button on top seems to disappear and reappear – even though only the background is moving. This ended up being one of my simplest GIFs, but one of my favorites, and I thought, most successful. It’s able to create the appearance of more movement than is actually happening within the frames. Compared to the first GIF in this post, it was fairly simple to make – I just kept transforming and wrapping the background by about 25 px every frame. It only took me about an hour to make, but it looks complex. I ended up trying to recreate the success of this GIF for the rest of the GIF assignment, though I don’t know if I succeeded. disappearing_button I continued to play with white space and movement, but also focused on color palettes. I generally have a very dark color palette in my artwork but after seeing Daniel Buren’s experiments with light and color, I decided to experiment as well. I decided to continue playing with empty space and overlaps and made the GIF below, which I call, “Red and Blue All Over,” which is a play on bruising. I wanted to just use red and blue but also attempt to make a third color, purple, out of them. I used the same layer-transform-wrap process as in Disappearing Button, except I had the red and blue circles moving in opposite directions, rather than the same direction. I think it works to some degree, but is not as successful as I would have liked. Ultimately, to get the brighter purple that I wanted, I would have had to devote some time to make sure the thinly striped red and blue circles lined up more perfectly – so that only red and blue, no white, showed. This GIF ended up being a lot more stagnant than I wanted it to be – it’s cool, but because the background isn’t moving, the top layer doesn’t get much of a sense of transformation.  If I had to remake this GIF I would have had the background moving, rather than the individual circle layers. It was a lot more tedious to have both those layers moving in opposing directions, and not enough payoff. red_and_blue_eyes_gif I had a lot of fun playing with movement and colors in these GIFs. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have stuck so rigidly to a primary color palette. It definitely got me out of my comfort zone and into areas that I wanted to explore, but it would have been cool to look at some other bright colors. Buren and Scher both play with bright colors a lot but certainly don’t just stick to primary colors – I think their work might be less successful that way.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Swimming In the Void

  Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.06.28 PM For my conference project, I made three animated kinetic text videos which featured narratives from people who spoke about their emotional -experiences of dealing with their mental illnesses. Initially, I wanted to mimic Oskar Fischinger’s ( a German-American abstract animator) style of shape animation to mimic the emotions highlighted in the narrative. In his videos, Oscar Fischinger uses simple shapes to move in co-ordination to classical and jazz musical compositions.However, a major feature of his animated shorts which made them so appealing was the syncing of his shape animation to a Litz composition, which  I lacked the technical expertise and time to emulate. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.09.05 PM   Instead, I used a variety of inspirations for different scenes in each video. For instance, in the video featuring my friend’s narrative encounter with depression, one of the first few scenes has been inspired by Saul Bass’s cinematography for the opening credits of Vertigo. In order to create that, I chose to transform my ellipse into a spiral , using the “twist” animation effect. My intention was for the rotating spiral to create a hallucinatory effect and make the viewer experience a sense of dread and feel that they were getting pulled into some sort of void (a symbolic interpretation of my title). The last scene, which features a gif of a girl with a tear rolling down her cheek, has been inspired by Mitski’s “Townie” music video, which is filled with a series of hand drawn gifs that express the self destructive and discontent nature of a young adult, which is quite similar to the narrative of the video I was creating. I attempted to re-create this hand sketched gif using Gimp and my Wacom tablet, however I felt that I used too few layers, which resulted in an animated gif that was too rushed up and had a rocky transition between the frames. For the BPD video, I was particularly inspired by Jim Goldberg’s short video for his photobook, “Raised By Wolves” which features teenage runaways in Hollywood Boulevard. The juxtaposition between the young, innocent faces of the subjects and the dreary nature of their narratives interested me and I attempted to re-create this effect in my own video, which featured a childhood photo of my cousin contrasted with lines from her narrative. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.11.05 PM While creating my videos, I discovered a variety of tools that complemented the nature of my narratives. For instance, I used a combination of “Bad TV” (warp, old and weak)  and “Set Channels” effects to create the damaged VCR effect with the static lines. The “Bad TV” effect was used to create the static lines while the “Set Channels” effect was used to create the glitch text at  the beginning. All three of the kinetic texts shared a common theme of the narrators describing themselves as feeling like ghosts and wishing to float away. The “Set Channels” effect proved to be a very efficient tool in helping to convey this in images and text. For instance, I created three layers of the same text and would modify the channel information in such a way that the colors in the images would get separated and created the effect of the person in the image “floating” away from herself (see picture above). I also heavily experimented around with the “Fractal Noise” effect which helped to create the jittery effect for the text and animated shapes in the video and created a sense of heightened anxiety. I was also interested in creating a zoom in affect where it feels like a camera is panning towards infinity. I tried to convey this in the first two videos which featured the narratives about depression and BPD. This was achieved by making the text 3-D and altering the key frames for  it’s orientation. For the backdrops, I decided to create visual representations of a galaxy and glowing tunnel; both of which convey a universal sense of infinity. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.12.28 PM   Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.13.41 PM I wished I had a better understanding of key frames and transition between different scenes , as I felt that some scenes were too rushed to properly convey something impactful. I also wished I had more time to compose a musical composition for my videos, as that would have made the animations  more effective in manipulating the viewer’s emotions and would have been more engaging.

Conference Project Proposal: Swimming In The Void

  RgwQLiWFWQBJC A scene from “An Optical Poem” by Oskar Fischinger My conference project shall comprise of three animated kinetic text videos that would be approximately 3 to 4 minutes long. Each video would be featuring narratives by people who have been diagnosed with a particular psychological disorder (depression, borderline personality disorder and anxiety). These narratives would circulate around their emotional experiences dealing with their disorder and how their health affects their day to day living, their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. For the video, where my friend talks about her experience dealing with borderline personality disorder , I would use shape animations that are inspired by the works of Oscar Fischinger, Marcel Ducham and Saul Bass. It has also been inspired by Ted Ed’s “What is Bipolar Disorder?” (animated by Uncle Ginger). All these works feature geometric shape animations that are being manipulated according to the soundtrack and/or the content of the narrative. As somebody who has always been interested in the intersection between art and clinical psychology, this project very much appeals to me.. For this project, I shall also be using a color palette inspired by Kadinsky’s paintings from Adobe Kuler to create a vintage technicolor like feel, that would go well according to the Litz composition.  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: MILA

walkthrough-maps walkthrough-popups buildingmap1 copy Mila is a top-down 2D RPG about a young girl’s search for a connection with her estranged father, and her slow disillusionment with the world her father is a part of. I’ve struggled a lot through the development of this game, and presently I am on a second or third draft of the art and maps. Functionally the game supports blendtree animation for movement, moving between scenes/maps, and collision. I spent a great deal more time than I expected to on the art, which is how I ended up with multiple drafts of nearly every asset and map. Because of this, the time I was able to spend on code suffered. I was able to make my game semi-playable, even with the amount of time I spent on the art. protag The process of the dev cycle helped me realize how well my background in design and visual art aided me in the process of game design. Although I was unable to spend as much time on it as I wanted to, I was also able to pick up on the logic of the code easily and quickly. I have a much better fundamental understanding of it now, and my skills in and understanding of animation grew a lot over the course of working on the character animations for this game. I’d like to continue to hone my understanding of abstraction and representation in art and animation, and to build my code vocabulary. During this project my greatest difficulty was scaling and rescaling the scope of the story. I began with a potential plot that was way too large to create within one semester – the fact that I spent the first few weeks of the semester working on and sketching out this plot (and then rescaling it when I realized it was unrealistic) lost me precious time that I could have put into making the game more functional. The coursework and materials gave me a lot of ideas about the functionality of a game, and the ways in which a game can get ideas across. I feel that I was able to incorporate a lot of ideas about shape theory and color theory, as well as taking design inspiration from a couple of top-down RPGs we played in the course, particularly Undertale and Suits: A Business RPG. I also took a lot of inspiration from Mortis Ghost’s OFF, which we did not play in class, but which I feel uses a minimalistic top-down format to create a very immersive and real-feeling world. It was also very helpful for me to see what my classmates were working on, as it gave me inspiration and motivation as well as reminding me that there is more than one successful way to make a game in the same code box. I certainly feel that I could have budgeted the time I spent working on code better on this project. I do feel that the amount of time I spent on art was warranted, as I will likely be able to reuse assets from this game in the future. On future projects I would definitely try to allow myself more time in the beginning of the cycle to focus on art before delving into the code.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: IV

IMG_0224 (1) IV is a top down RPG that tries to model the American medical industry within a video game using mythic imagery. Currently I’m at a place in the dev cycle where most every art asset is in the game, however the actual coded mechanics don’t quite work yet. The project had some major surprises, notably the coding and character animation came remarkably quick but the terrain and tile maps came much slowly. This is probably due to me using a different program (photoshop) and technique for these tiles than I did on my last game The Strength Needed. Much of the design choices came from this place of experience/need for growth. I wanted to expand my artistic skill set this semester by making the terrain far prettier than last semester. The main character had much of the same sort of art style I had cultivated before, but used some more complex shading techniques that made them seem more dimensional. I think I surprised myself this time with how quickly the character designs came out. Initially I had many different full walk cycles for multiple different characters that didn’t make it into the final cut of the game, but I still might use these assets and the practice they afforded me in future projects. I discovered a sort of natural ability to design characters this semester which honestly surprised me as I’ve had plenty of doubts throughout the year about my ability to draw/make pixel art. I had a lot of artistic inspiration from the game Hyper Light Drifter and used much of the articles I read interviewing the developer Alex Preston as guides for making this game. In addition, the games Lisa, Undertale, and What Now? as models for some of the things I wanted to do with odd mechanics. I did definitely learn how to do tilesets better this semester, which overall has aided my skill set as an artist quite well. The extra practice on characters also undoubtedly will make future projects that much faster. In addition, I think my skills as a designer definitely saw some improvement. On previous projects I don’t think I would have done much to draft out a main mechanic. Really thinking about the internal logic of the game’s central mechanic became a rather good thought experiment and practice for the future. The whole process of making a mechanic that didn’t play by conventional game standards made me question how to defy typical mechanics even more. However, although I cultivated a better sense of art and design I will mention my coding still feels subpar. While I’m aware much of my strife came from a major setback in the dev cycle when my computer lost all its data and was out of commission for two weeks, the fact remains that coding takes me far more time than any other aspect of the project and I should leave more time for it on my next project. Although I thought I managed my time well, clearly I’ll have to get better at deadlines in the future. IMG_0227   Best, Chris Haehnel (Kit)

Conference Project Post-Mortem: ADHDRPG!

Gamepic My game this semester is ADHDRPG!, a semi-autobiographical depiction of what it’s like to have undiagnosed ADHD in middle school. The game as I envision it depicts a week in the life of a girl (named Claire, after myself) as she attempts to navigate home and school while dealing with her ADHD. At home, she must manage to get out the door in the morning with everything she needs, a challenge that increases in various ways as the game goes on. At school, she battles the various manifestations of her ADHD, such as homework and distractions. gamepic5 I am still fairly early on in the dev cycle for this project, unfortunately.  My artwork is very involved and detailed, and I’d say that’s the most advanced aspect of my project. There are many objects that I have created art assets for but not implemented or implemented without planned interactivity. As far as coding goes, I got so far as to implement basic enemies into the game and add a system for killing them. If the game were to become fully realized, I’d say that I’m probably a quarter of the way through. gamepic2 I was surprised by how easy the coding aspect of the game was. I have a small bit of experience with Javascript, and while much of the actual scripting was different, the logic carried over to a surprising degree. Most of my problems came from careless errors, which were annoying but ultimately easy to fix. The most surprisingly time consuming thing was the art — I never realized how much I could agonize over the placement of a few pixels. To my pleasant surprise, I was more talented at pixel art than I thought. However, this came with the unfortunate flip side of me often wanting to go back and redo older assets as my skill increased. gamepic3 Other than a skill with art, I’d say I definitely gained more confidence in my ability to write code. In a less quantifiable sense, I feel like I have a better eye for design than I did when I had started the semester with no education on visual design and little on game design. That’s my biggest concentration in the future — improving my game design skills. I want to be a designer and a writer, and while art assets and code can always be done for me by someone else, design is absolutely necessary if I’m to lead the creation of a game. I really learned the value of feedback from my classmates, so I’ll definitely take advantage of any playtesters I can get for future games. gamepic4 I was really inspired by all of the projects created by my classmates this semester. I feel like every game that each of us created had different strengths, and every creator stood out from the others in their own way. The sense of humor in David’s game, the beautiful art in Colin’s, the use of a small and detailed space to create compelling story in Chris’ are a few of the many standout examples of things that I take as inspiration for this and future games. gamepic6 My one regret is that my time management absolutely could have been better than it was. I was hesitant to implement functionality into my game before making the necessary art assets, so that contributed a lot to me not having as much code and interactivity in as I could have. I learned that I need to create a stricter dev cycle and really stick to it. This summer, I plan on trying to finish my game. If I can create that structure for myself I’ll be at a huge advantage over where I was. I also hope that someday working with others on a game can keep me to task.  

Conference Project & Post-Mortem: SONOSPECTRUM

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.56.57 PM Proposal: After hearing Steve Reich’s experiments in sound through 12 Instruments and reinterpretations by Philip Glass in the hours and O Superman by Laurre Anderson, I was fascinated by generative music, and looked towards the Beads library in processing. Intended to follow Evan Merz’ instructions on the library in his book Sonifying Processing but later extrapolate on those lessons with visual additions as well as additions of my own code. Post-Mortem: The Beads processing library was complex, but set an easy groundwork with Glide and Gain that was used throughout all versions of sound generation. My most simple artwork of the many I experimented with was Warlock Groove, which used different parameters to turn an audio files into a wave,  and those variables would be randomized at the start of each run of the sketch. My next experiment was with TalkBack which uses the computers microphone to read the hertz of sound coming in and creates a playback. My next set of experiments with the Beads library used visuals that also determined the audio being played. For Roundabout and MusicBox I had four shapes bounce around the screen, and their x and y positions would determine which minute parts, or grains, of the sound file were pulled from creating a randomized sound. pic-0945 pic-1801 My next experiment in sound generation pulled off a sketch I created called Heart which used vertex drawing to make what looked like a polyhedron. I used several Beads codes to attach frequency creation to each of the points of the polyhedron, and found an interesting but not “full” noise. So I used my inspiration from Reich and played a second iteration of the sketch creating a discordant sound that fit the shape and movement of the “hearts, which became called Heartbeat and Heartbreak. pic-1948 pic-2318 Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 6.58.15 PM Finally I worked with a synth generator that used a clock to play random synth matchups and edits, which I then paired with the visual of expanding circles which I entitled GrapeSoda. pic-1697As a whole I was pleased with the experiments, especially Heartbeat and Heartbreak. Ideally as a next step I would want to experiment with the installation of these pieces of how placement could add to the interpretation of the noise. -note: sound will be added to this piece as soon as I figure out how to  

Blackspace: A Lot of Noise in a Crowded Space

IMG_6020 For my Blackspace I created a room full of water bottles, which I thought would be interesting to navigate in the dark but never expected would be a musical and noise generation experience. The original aim was to place water bottles in a manner in an enclosed space, where people would then have trouble navigating in the dark. The first run through with our class I found that the bottles made interesting noises as they crashed, and those noises in turn attracted people to kick and move the bottles around in a louder fashion. Later run throughs had people almost immediately try to make noise and move around in the dark space. IMG_6019IMG_6022What was enthralling was after the set-up I could use the moving wall to enclose people, and besides encouraging more careful groups they system could exist and expand on its own. Presentation of the piece also became important as I tried to have it in our showing, removing labels of the bottles as well as integrating the wall as an area setter to begin the piece. What was wonderful was being able to just have a start and not worry about an end.  

System 3: Infinitesimal

pic-6013 For my final system I built off of our cellular automata code, replacing the squares with text. I also put a transparent black background so new iterations would only compile over old as opposed to completely replacing. Pictured above is the code after around a minute. The way it works is all the boxes that would typically be white or the color of the background are now grey and opaque, while the shaded in boxes determined by one of the simple rules of cellular automata randomly choose colors from a set and words from an array. These arrays are created from passages from the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which tells a surreal narrative about an African-American man and how his race renders him invisible throughout various events. This book is perhaps one of my favorites, but my selection of the book came with the images and colors it evoked. Firstly the main part of this automata and the system integrated is the balance of the words as unimportant and relevant. The piece I believe can stand simple as a visual without the words being read, representing a feeling of invisibility. Whereas some words and phrases can easily be read due to the way I align the text and have colors shift, reflecting the strong moral and identity questions that the novel brings up. But before I discuss that use of the novel, I must discuss the components of the system that differentiate it from a simple cellular automata. First, text of varying lengths falls in less of an organized pattern than the squares usually used in cellular automata. I also edited some of the rulesets of the cellular automata so I would have less proliferations that covered the whole screen, allowing for most run-throughs of this sketch to start as below, with one word coming to the forefront in red. And slowly the words would cover the whole screen. In the third image below the cellular automata shifts one row down, which allows for the text to not infinitely cover itself. pic-0132 pic-0323 pic-0484 After around a thousand frames, the color shifts from red to either green or purple/pink, and changes the array to another passage. I have selected three passages that have meaning to me and to the book and split them up into three arrays. Below is the progressing of the system as it shifts arrays and colors. pic-1356 pic-4167 pic-9407 pic-19741 One of the main differences of this system from my previous two is that it can evolve continuously as it exists. After being run from 30+ minutes the below two frames resulted. pic-201689 pic-211231  

Systems Aesthetics: System 2 Branch Unfolding

System 2-4 Moving on system 1, which attempted to recreate the systematic approach that Ron Resch used on paper crumpling, I changed the trajectory of my attempts at manual systems with a digital tool I was very familiar with: Adobe Illustrator. My thought was that Resch was able to create such a complex system from simple rules because he had spent weeks in a way studying the paper through interaction, and I guessed that my knowledge of Illustrator would give me a similar understanding. I began with the CMYK color settings of lines, creating a two more lines at the end of each end of a single line. The more left line would have a small decrease in magenta, while the right would have a decrease in yellow, resulting in the image below. System 2-2   The splitting of lines would end when the magenta or yellow value reached zero. Again I lost the feeling and nature of a system due to my own manual input. I quite like the result of this system attempt, but acknowledge that it is not a true system. As there is no room for evolution and self-sustained change.

Systems Aesthetics: Corporate Bliss

George Washington - Mike Brondbjerg

George Washington – Mike Brondbjerg

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 12.02.43 PM

Thomas Jefferson – Mike Brondbjerg

Part 1 of the sketch

Part 1 of the sketch

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

Proposal: My Systems Aesthetic’s conference project has truly evolved. It began with some inspiration from Mike Brondbjerg, who created a project called Dead Presidents ( . He worked with portraits of old presidents and beautifully “distorted” their faces. In the beginning I didn’t really have an idea with what I wanted to do. Did I want to re-create Brondbjerg’s work? Upon our first conference project, Angela and I decided that I would need to convert original images into SVG images and then learn PShape. I created my first sketch with an SVG image of Homer Simpson and Friedrich Hayek. The Homer image was easy but the Hayek image was an actual portrait I wanted to use. I was inspired by Tim Wu’s book, The Attention Merchants. Tim Wu famously coined the term “net neutrality” which advocates free access of content to all Internet users. Within the depths and depths of content found on the Internet, such a stance is necessary. Tim Wu examines how private lives have been permeated by capitalism. The lack of space to breath from advertisements has encouraged people to stay less informed politically and diminished democratic participation. The evolution of the media of mass communications is primarily driven by technological innovation.Wu suggests that one of the first stages of grabbing attention came from newspapers, with the advertisements of Jules Chéret. Advertising brought me to my final project: company logos. I was also inspired by the television show Silicon Valley’s title sequence of Uber and Lyft struggling against each other.   Digital technology has allowed humans to advance their freedom; however, capitalism limits this freedom. Robert McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning The Internet Against Democracy, compliments Wu’s book by examining how companies control the Internet. Through lobbying, the government has allowed a few companies to control and regulate the Internet for profit. Advertising traffic is monitored and sold in order to commercialize the Internet. For example, Facebook likes are monetized for advertisers. A quote from McChesney’s book prompted me to choose these specific companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. However, 4 logos were not enough to take up a sketch. I looked up other corporate and media influencers and found: Twitter, Walmart, Snapchat, BP, and HP. These companies all have the power to influence public opinion.   After the election, I was extremely angry at the media – because I spend the night at the Javits Center expecting Hillary Clinton to win. As she was losing the monitors were showing some political talk show. A political elite, either Rachel Maddow or Nicholas Kristof, stated that average Americans would blame the media for Clinton’s loss. While there are many factors behind Trump’s election, that statement angered me greatly. Between the end of November and February I stopped checking my social media accounts and by association the news. I was completely unaware of Donald Trump’s antics, the latest memes, and shopping trends. It was a blissful time but inconvenient. I had no idea about the Russia scandal. I had little to no knowledge of the officials Trump was picking. People need to know what goes on and that means sacrificing attention to advertisements. The blending of factual content and advertising in the media makes it difficult to escape. The Internet is becoming a less regulated place, in which large companies can control traffic and dictate who can see what. It is best to be aware of it.   This project serves to show the world I think companies have the potential to take over our general day-to-day activities.   Post-Mortem:   I learned a new concept in Processing for this project: Bounce. I also learned how to upload images and logos into an array. The system behind my project is the rules behind allowing the logos to bounce off the sides of the sketch. I also played with frame count, which I had used a lot in Pre-Frontal. I added a quote by Robert McChesney because I thought it would mean something against Microsoft’s Bliss background. All of these companies are competing against one another to see who can influence people more, and then in turn gain profit. Furthermore, the beginning of the sketch contains the drag of the logos because I felt that it created a sort of a maze. Internet users are stuck between Facebook and Google and the conflict between who can grab your attention more.   Next semester, I do hope to learn how to take high definition screen shots of my sketches so that the movies made in MPEG Streamclip aren’t blurry. I am proud of this project because I feel that it conveys how I feel about corporations and the media. The title of this piece is “Corporate Mess”, which I think captures the struggle of companies to maximize profit from users of the Internet. 

Blackspace: Astrophobia


Me & my edited Blackspace Project

Kelsey at Projector Night

Kelsey at Blackspace

Sage walking by!

Sage walking by!

Projector Night audience

Blackspace Audience



Blackspace was modeled after our darkness theme, which prompted me to change my project. It was more or less the same – polygons bouncing off the sides of the sketch along to track by Fort Romeau. However, in one of our open studio classes, Angela suggested that our original Blackspace project was only the prototype. The final project should be completely different. In my original sketch, I was unhappy with the way the polygons bunched up at the top of the sketch. That was why I had created two separate films and put them together (one going forward and one in reversal). I found out why the polygons were bunching up at the top – it was the result of me expanding the radius to emerge off of the screen if the radius was over 50. While that was one of my favorite parts of the original sketch, I didn’t add to the final project. Rather than conveying the same anxiety of polygons expanding off the screen, I played around with the radius. The end result were sketches that looked like brushstrokes. I also borrowed a concept from my System 2: the color wheel. I created more sketches, slightly different from the other. There was one with blue and orange. One with purple and yellow. One with red and blue. I created more variations of colors but only included a couple in the final video. I like the idea of putting my sketch under the stairs but I don’t think it was dark enough to be considered a Blackspace project during our performance. I should have tried to find a switch that would turn off the hallway lights. I kind of wish that I had chosen an enclosed space to present my project rather than the hallway. However, even the Blackspace installation was not my final project. It is no longer Astrophobia but Anamnesis. I love the idea of having audio but not the idea of using someone else’s audio. It’s hard finding rhythms and lyrics that I want to go with my piece. However, over winter break, my mother and uncle found old tapes of my grandmother singing classical Rabindrasangeet. She died last year in a car accident and since then I’ve always felt time is too short. There are still moments I want to have with her. Bobby made me start thinking of trying to emulate her in some of my sketches. During our Blackspace rehearsal and while Bobby was presenting, I was asked “Did anyone you know die recently?”. It was a question that really hit me. Since I was playing with time in Astrophobia by reversing and speeding up some of the videos, I decided to change the audio and use the brighter polygons. Here is a link to the final project:    

Systems Aesthetics: Pre-Frontal + Systems 1, 2, & 3

System 1
Folded and outlined paper

Folded and outlined paper

Natural 3-D shape from folds

Natural 3-D shape from folds

I am not particularly proud of system 1 and I felt that it did an injustice to Ron Resch’s amazing project. I simply folded a piece of paper a couple of times and hoped for the best. How could someone devote so much time to folding paper? I just noted how the folds were making the paper raised and 3D. Nonetheless, I am proud of System 2 and System 3 and consider it a much better development from System 1. After class, I was inspired to take it further by coloring the shapes in. I had big ideas with keeping the paper in it’s natural raised shape (like in image 2). I wanted to paint them in coordinated colors. System 2

Color Wheel 1


All of the 6 color wheels on folded paper


color wheel 2

System 2 was the origination of my color wheel theme, which I used for my final blackspace and projection night sketch. I was inspired by Grace’s System 1 project that focused on folded paper and color. It made me think about which colors complement each other and how colors can be a system. I felt that my system 1 did not go as far as Ron Resch’s did. I did not have as much time to sit and figure out different rules for my paper folding. I wish that I did because the different variations would have been really interesting. Rather than folding the paper further I decided to go off of my end result from system 1. The folds I had created resulted in triangular shapes, which reminded me of color wheel cones. So, I grabbed a box of colored pencils and began coloring each triangle fold. The triangular outlines along the edges were primary colors. The next row of outlines were the mixes of the primary colors. The next row were the mixes of the secondary, creating the tertiary colors. I did this for about 6 sheets of paper. This resulted in different variations.   I thought it would be easier to color each triangular outline. However, I found myself forgetting my own rules or not having the correct colored pencils. The next time I do this I would also not use colored pencils since they did not show as brightly as I wanted them to. Time was also a constraint. I set my project up about 4 hours before I had to leave my apartment. I thought that this would be an ample amount of time to finish up even more than 6 pieces of paper. However, I noticed that time was running out and I rushed the coloring process – which made the colors look too light. The chance of my error was high since I was working quickly towards the end. I wasn’t able to find certain colors and became frazzled. I think of myself as a processing sketch. I wrote the code for myself in the beginning (the rules of coloring and folding) but I was still subject to errors because of my state of mind and environment.   System 3
Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

(i googled iridescent since it's a current social media trend)

(i googled iridescent since it’s a current social media trend)

  Here are some images showing the progression of images I used for system 3. My initial goal was to take our in-class glitch code further and turn it into a system. I wanted to also incorporate parts of my conference project along the lines of digital influencers and corporate capitalism. I had recently read some articles about Elon Musk and the future of Tesla which prompted my to try and distort his face. I wasn’t too happy with the way it looked with Musk, mostly because I could not grasp how to utilize the glitch code with his face. I decided to use the original image during our in-class glitch code. The Kim Kardashian crying face is one of my favorite memes/cultural icons. Kim Kardashian is someone who is famous for being a businesswoman. Despite not being an actress or musician, she is incredibly famous and takes space in much of the media. The media that Kim Kardashian dominates gives me a sort of escapism from our capitalist culture. The thought of working 9 to 5 and sometimes even later, regardless of whether it’s a field I love or not, is almost soulless and tiring. It’s no wonder that people (including myself) find solace in the media and other trivial things that do not produce intellectual thought. Adorno labeled the media we use as a distraction as the culture industry, which was my system 3’s original name. I had fun playing around with glitch code. Especially, with adding polygons and watching their actions around the glitch art. However, after showing it in class I wondered if using Kim Kardashian’s face was trivial. So, I coded Pre-Frontal. Pre-Frontal has an iridescent background with a larger glitch bar going vertically down the sketch. I chose to keep the polygons and thought it was interesting as the polygons collided with the glitch bar and created a rainbow effect. Furthermore, I added a frame count to create different rules for the ways polygons come into the sketch. I titled this “Pre-Frontal” because it is a part of the brain that moderates social behavior. Social behavior is oftentimes dominated by the media and political elites.
projector night (5)

Blackspace: The Garden of Life

Image/Poster ATTRIBUTION: Callum Bayle-Spence, his work *sys.#2/blck.spce* What I ultimately called The Garden of Life, based on John Horton Conway’s Game of Life.
Blackspace System Description:
A 2D space that emulates Conway’s Game of Life, except the designs usually implemented are rejected in favor of something more {{floral}} – one tulip, that is one garden ‘node,’ determines its neighborhood, and then behaves accordingly as it moves through its life cycle (or not). Scaled up and projected into a dark space, this becomes a dynamic simulated garden as an installation piece where the isolated ‘flower,’ earthy and natural elements of the designs offset the stark black of this new environment, creating an effect of dislocated, floating intelligence perhaps: a system that auto-perpetuates.
shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

shot (on iPhone, self) from further away, actually right though a group assembled for Boobies piece

This idea was developed out of figuring out how to do an animation sequence in Processing, from an image array, and loading that to the screen dynamically (System #2), and combining it with our class’s original simple_GoL code.
The System Description also gives an idea of what I had in mind going into the project: –something dynamic –integrating design ideas I had been developing in Pixel Art –permeated by a sense of intelligence –projectable, even decorative. Could be put to use as such in the future too! –needs to work nicely in a black, dark space I think I achieved these goals. Complications, and frustrations, include dealing with code errors, more or less descriptive and helpful in that sense, in Processing. This came to a head when I decided I really also want to port this to the web (see separate post for that.)
another angle, shot on iPhone, self

another angle, shot on iPhone, self

Putting the project on display at out Black Space event was illuminating (no pun intended), but to a degree, the results were also predictable. I was happy with them to be sure. The piece, understood as part of the collectively created space, was one of the less obtrusive. It was not a live group performance in the middle of the room, with or without bottles! It was instead on the wall. There, however, it was all the more persuasive, encapsulating the ideas in the System Description, and as such, striking surprise in more than the occasional passer-through and visitor: they would stop, and look more closely to see what is actually going on in this presentation. I really enjoyed that more subdued engagement the work was producing! Another aspect of this work I enjoyed is, that once the thing is built, I can lean back and enjoy these sorts of pleasures: the code is running on its own. It’s a system!
another close-up like the one used for Callum's poster: shot on iPhone, self

another close-up like the one used for Callum’s poster: shot on iPhone, self

Having a dark, black in fact, background was a no-brainer, though I did experiment initially. The black background is what ultimately gave the animated tulips their sense of suspension, just floating in the darkness.

Systems Aesthetics: System 1

92e2d1df57e74a5b9281aa34bbed29a4 After Ron Resch’s Paper and Stick experiments and systems, I attempted to investigate his method and define his system in simple steps that could be recreated: My notes of all his processes were: He aims to solely crumple the paper and do no other motions: Only allowed to crumple > diagrams the essential folds > lines becomes straight, triangles or equilateral triangles > triangles become the central idea to the folds > later squares and hexagons > lines in the folds can be turned into essential shapes >>> shoot light at solids > turn the folds into rounded shapes > turn paper models into sticks > hook together with gelatin > shaded shadows create patterns >>> platonic solids can be connected in joints to other shapes > now shapes can transform by shifting along connections >>> squares connected together move predictably > attempts at 3D movement of up and down > sticks in an octahedron together form a dome >>> buildings and applications My simplification of steps became (with the help of some class suggestions):
  1. Use paper
  2. Fold paper
  3. Restrict freedom (only crumple)
  4. Follow/diagram “essential” folds
  5. Simplify to essentials for shape-making
  6. Some ideas control, some follow
  7. 2 different things work together
  8. change material, keep process
  9. Find pattern, change pattern order
  10. higher iterations/quantities
  11. join multiple created systems
The simplest way for me to next interpret this system would be to try and recreate some of it, at least what I considered the bare beginning of it with the paper folding. d334e3835709441aaac6c15d7905f37a 587523442a6849d091fb04de930d929e I found that even small iterations of following Resch’s process were tedious and hard to remain focuses and as systematic. I ended up following a slanted folding pattern, but soon found myself trying to move forward and expand in several different ways.f6e2abc0b9514e61816f7765ce6e61b2 2425d7ed4113426dbbe9acffc6859dc2 The crumpling of paper evoked a certain destruction, so I leaned towards trying to rip the page instead of crumple. I found interesting patterns but found it hard to discern a pattern. I next tried to use an object, a ball in this case, to do the crumpling and folding. Again, my results were not as concise as I would have liked, so I attempted to contain them.f1f332a8020347ab9760d8550701c312 e3a02a90fc624ccc94c3d1e5253e29ba I instead tried to limit the space the paper existed in, and found it an interesting extrapolation, but not a good reflection of Resch’s exact process. These experiments illustrated early on how complex the creation of the rules of system could be and how detailed it truly was to make the decision to just simply crumple paper.  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Liquid Light

fullsizeoutput_143e For my conference project, I combined a digital projection of various poems I had written with a liquid light show;  dishes filled with mineral oil, water, and food dye projected on an ELMO overhead projector. IMG_5566 A lot of my poetry aims to simply create another world in which the reader can enter. For my conference project, I aimed to take this experience farther by using the projection to visually create a space. I felt as though I certainly created a space through the projection, but perhaps not my words, as most people didn’t really take much time reading the poetry. IMG_5591 At first, I originally only used two dishes for the oil, water, and dye. However, I decide to try using a third vessel, a large flat-ish plastic box top. I felt as though this made a huge improvement on the quality of the liquid light show, as it allowed me to use more colors without them mixing. If I were to do this again in the future, I would try something other than food coloring, as it didn’t quite have the vibrancy I wanted. I would also invest in clear glass clock faces or something similar as opposed to what I used. It was shockingly difficult to find a clear plastic or glass dish that didn’t have a logo or something on the bottom. Finding materials was probably my biggest frustration. fullsizeoutput_1465 Overall, I was pleased with how this project turned out, as I felt it for the most part accomplished what I wanted it to. I will definitely be using both projection techniques for other projects in the future.

Systems Aesthetics: A Psychogeographical System: Blurring Parochial Domains

IMG_5412 Heimbold Visual Art Center on the Sarah Lawrence College campus is widely criticized by the student body. Its unpopularity is in large part due to the fact that various parochial domains functioning within the space do not intersect. Painters, sculptures, film students, professors, random passers-by and so on, interact and work in separate spatial realities with no reason to leave them. Most of these groups are not familiar with environment and people in other bubbles/zones. As a result, the center is far from being a creative hub and a well-functioning public space desired by the majority of the students. The conference system initiates a series of communitarian derives that lead to playful intersections of Heimbold’s parochial domains. Passers-by are given a choice to continue to walk to their respective spaces or to participate in an adventure that leads them to environments they rarely visit. The journey starts on the bottom of the lower staircase in Heimbold. The participant of the performance walks through 5 stations located around the lower level where they are given materials to build musical instruments/simple art pieces. Each station is marked with cardboard arrows and enables the participant to rediscover the visual arts building. On every station the person is given the option to leave the performance. Created musical instruments have the potential for further communitarian engagement and provide memory of the intersection of parochial domains.   List of requirements -encouraging in changing traffic flows/intersection of parochial domains -social object – engaging with people around -spacial object – engaging with the space -divided into steps/stations -requiring personification/uniqueness -able to to be kept after the performance -easy to construct -cheap to construct -entertaining Plan for stations
  1. Cups
  2. Filling/beans/noise making elements
  3. Personification/decoration – paint
  4. Personification/decoration – stickers,glitter
  5. Top for the cup+tape to close
List of materials: -40 cups + containers -40 tops -few bags of beans, lentils, rice -8 large cardboard arrows -markers -glitter -stickers -paint -paint brushes -duck tape for floor -duck tape for cups IMG_5414 IMG_5424IMG_5432IMG_5439 IMG_5443 IMG_5452 IMG_5457 IMG_5459 IMG_5460