Category Archives: ASINAT

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Mold and Liquid Metal

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My conference project draws inspiration from several sources. From animated films such as Hiyao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky to video games like Valve’s Portal 2, fictional media has often explored the relationship between nature and technology within futuristic, post-apocalyptic fantasy worlds. Overgrown weeds and mold attempt to retake the remains of long-abandoned high-tech societies. I’m not sure quite why I’m particularly drawn to this theme, but I find that it serves as both a central aesthetic and plot element in many of my favorite films and video games. The visual contrast between raw, colorful nature and silver steel is striking.




For my conference project, I wanted to channel this type of imagery in an animation to accompany an original piece of my music. Before I began animating or even had my vision for what would become the visual content of this piece, I composed and produced the music. In creating this track, I experimented with a variety of musical styles such as breakcore, idm, and trap. Due to its constantly and drastically evolving song structure, this piece works well as the score to an animation. As I have done with past visual accompaniments to my music, I tried to change and introduce visual elements in sync with changes in the music.




In this post-mortem, I will discuss some of the ways I channeled my inspirations into this piece, as well as the technical processes I used to create these effects. Due to the length and complexity of the piece, I am unable to discuss every aspect of the animation and the creative process behind it. I have thus chosen to discuss only the elements I found most challenging and interesting.




The “nature” influence in this piece is directly drawn from the mold-like patterns found in the 2017 film Annihilation. The following image exemplifies the imagery in reference:




annihilation (1)




Using adobe color, I created a color palette based on this image. This palette is utilized in the first half of the final animation, until the 2:22 mark. I also used this image to create the background of this first half. In photoshop, I transformed a cropped square from this image into a tile repeated as a background. In after effects, I applied the kaleidoscope cc effect to this image, creating the floral mold pattern serving as the background of the following still:




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The black “liquid metal” layer in the forefront of this still is one element of my animation that draws influence from the technological in this dichotomy. The process of creating this effect required much experimentation, but was ultimately one of the most personally satisfying parts of this whole project. My initial goal was to create a moving “liquid metal” overlay effect similar to that used in experimental electronic musician Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent music video Black Snow. Upon seeing that video, my first thought was of the liquid metal effect used for the T-1000 in the 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgement Day.




Still from "Black Snow"




To achieve this effect, I loosely followed instructions from youtube tutorial videos, supplementing with my own experimentation. First, I created a composition with a transparent background layer. I then created a black solid with the Fractal Noise effect. On this instance of Fractal Noise, I used the “dynamic twist” fractal type and the “soft linear” noise type, with a very high (325) contrast and a very low (-101) brightness. I then applied the Find Edges effect, with “invert” on. To create movement, I used the Turbulent Displace effect, and keyframed the evolution. At this point, I had achieved the liquid metal effect, but because it was applied to a black solid, the background was black. To make this effect applicable as an overlay, I used unmult, an effect which turns specific colors transparent. I set this effect to make the black solid transparent, thus creating a liquid metal overlay with a transparent background that could be applied over my animation.




Liquid Metal Overlay




To create the liquid metal sphere that appears at 00:11, I followed essentially the same process, but applied the cc sphere effect. The second sphere in my animation, which consists of moving lines, was also creating using this effect. To create this element, I created a composition with a shape layer. In this layer, I drew a vector shape using the pen tool. I then applied the wiggle transform, stroke, gradient fill, and repeater animation tools to this vector shape. Finally, I applied the cc sphere effect to the shape to give it its form. The following is a screenshot of this element.




Line Sphere




In conclusion, I’m very proud of the work I accomplished with this project. I successfully executed my goal of creating a visual accompaniment to a piece of my music; one which channels the dichotomy between technology and nature through the replication of visual elements from several sources of inspiration. Not only did I successfully execute this goal, my creative process taught me new skills in after effects. Through the process of creating this piece I learned how to create transparent solids using unmult, create liquid metal elements using fractal noise, and turn vector shapes into spheres using the cc sphere effect.

Kinetic Text

Frame from work.

Frame from work.

For my kinetic text piece, I animated a short narrative about how I put a word to my gay and trans identity, focusing on my young crush on Freddie Mercury.

 

For this piece my main focus was simply the text.  Because in previous years I have only used visual forms to represent concepts, the use of text as graphics was new and foreign to me, especially since all my life it has been drilled into me that the only use of text and letters was for extremely rigid writing. 

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Because of the exact nature of the project, I found that using primarily text was liberating.  I focused on aesthetics, how the letters looked and felt with different fonts, and also keeping everything cohesive. 

Because of the subject matter, I wanted to allude to two time periods: my youth in 2011 and the glam rock era of the late 70s.  Because I wanted to focus solely on the text, I kept my visuals at a minimum.  In fact I only used two effects: fractal and noise HLS on the wild layers, used glowing trim paths, and only changed the colors on the soil layer every 30 seconds to a minuet. 

In fact I relied on visual repetition for the trim paths and just remixed the same key frames manually.  My only other visual component was live footage from a Queen concert, which I put put a mirror effect on so it would only “open” when Freddie Mercury was on screen.

 

The text itself is a mix of 3D and 2D animated text.

While I would have loved to render all my text layers in 3D, in truth I was scared that the file would take too long to render and that my computer would overheat, leading me to 3D animate any text sparingly.  However I know with the right equipment, 3D rendering all the text would have been possible, and would have led to a more compelling reading and viewing experience.  However within the film, I male use of animated text intros and decoder effects to keep viewers interested in the screen.   I animated different parts of text to change color, as if it were rainbow for the very obvious reason: this film is about being gay.  In fact, as a gay man, I make use of a censored LGBTQ+ slur targeted at gay men, and make change to all colors of the rainbow.  In this way I am simultaneously reclaiming and asserting my identity with a slur which is in relation to this story of putting words to my identity.  I also stuck with a prose style for this film, namely because I wanted the work to feel personable, as if I am talking to you at a coffee shop about this, and thus take away a layer of accessibility.  I also found that as prose, the narrative flowed more easily than not.  I also tried to use a loose narrative structure,the film has a clear beginning and end, even though both do not amount to much and they shouldn’t, to me my attraction to other men and only men is part of my everyday life and at this point, normal, why should’t I portray it as normal in my work?

Frame from film.

Frame from film.


This film also deals with the beginnings of something that I currently cannot explain any better with language: the fact that men who love men (gay, bi, pan men) experience love and attraction differently from straight women.  I have no idea how else to go into detail about it but one of the reasons I know why its different is this: I have not met a straight woman who was attracted to Freddie Mercury ever in my life. Are there women who are attracted to queer men? Yes, and they sometimes get into relationships if the man is also attacked to women as well.  However, for some reason, no straight women has ever expressed her attraction to Freddie Mercury while many queer men have.  Through my personal experience, and hopefully through more art, I hope to explain how the phenomenon of love between men and lust between men works.

Frame

Frame


In all this project challenged me to think very differently from my usual.  I am used to thinking in form, color, and shape in a the context of pictures, never in fonts, words, or text in general.  I truly tried to tone down my use of imagery to three main components and use repetition as an effective visual device and keep the mood of my piece effective and consistent throughout the film.  Awakening is probably one of the firsts of unknown firsts of many more works of art to come that explicitly deal with identity, gender nonconformity, attraction, and love that come with being a gay man, especially a gay trans man in 2018.

Space Oddity

This piece is an animation I created in After Effects which accompanies a piece of music I created. Inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” this animation evokes the themes of interstellar exploration and the infinite nature of outer space.




My process of creating this animation began with its musical score. The musical track I chose to accompany the visual is a piece of my own. As a composer and producer of electronic music, I found it made sense for me to utilize my skills in the realm of music to accompany this visual project. The song that scores my animation is entitled “Violence and Perfume”. This title holds no significance to the video piece, but comes from a vocal sample from Cecelia Condit’s 1983 horror short “Possibly in Michigan,” which is included in the opening of my track. As elements of the music (such as drums, bass, and synthesizers) are introduced and removed throughout the song’s form, visual elements of my animation are simultaneously introduced and removed.




Probably the most essential technical element of this animation is the fractal, which is zoomed in on throughout its duration. The fractal uses a mandelbrot set, with a z=z^5+c equation. With a black and white color palette, the ever expanding fractal represents the depths of space.




fractal layer




At 0:33, I keyframe the start and end parameters on the trim path of a circle shape layer to create the illusion of the circle slowly drawing itself. I then use the repeater effect to duplicate the circle, creating five interlocking rings.




Here are the rings:




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glitchscreen




I created the above image by editing together sections of my glitch gif project from earlier in the semester. The original photo being glitched is a selfie I took of myself. I saved the photo in photoshop as a .bmp file. After changing the file from a .bmp image to a .txt text file, I adjusted small sections of the file’s text code in textedit. This adjustment results in a glitch effect when reopening the image as a .bmp in photoshop. I cropped the image down to the glitch sections and rearranged them to fit the 1280 x 720 dimensions of the screen. I utilize this image, which I’ve titled glitchscreen.jpg, in two ways in my animation.




I use the kaleidoscope effect on an image layer of glitchscreen.jpg to create a pattern reminiscent of stars. At 1:10, I introduce this image through the kaleidoscope and black and white effects. The kaleidoscope uses starlish as its mirroring shape to create the star pattern. I use expressions on various parameters of the kaleidoscope effect to create motion in this layer. I apply the expression random(10,20) on the kaleidoscope effect’s size and random(360) on its rotation. These expressions are random number generators, which cause the kaleidoscope layer to rapidly and unpredictably transform. I use the black and white color effect on the layer to drain the kaleidoscope of its colors. At 30% opacity and with no color, the layer serves as a textural overlay over the zooming fractal, but does not introduce colors of its own. After a beat drop which introduces a new synth sound around 1:40, I introduce a second layer of kaleidoscope, which includes color.




My animation addresses the themes of space travel and exploration found in David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.  Throughout the duration of the piece, I use keyframes to adjust the magnification of the black and white fractal layer. This evokes a sense of movement through the vast, infinitely evolving space of the fractal. At the 1:10 mark, coinciding with the beat drop in the music, I introduce a starlish kaleidoscope effect on a layer of a glitch image with a random number command on its rotation and size. This layer is intended to create the effect of stars as the viewer moves through the depths of fractal space. The five interlaced circles created by the repeater effect are the insignia of the imaginary space shuttle in which the viewer is traveling. At 2:24, the space exploration mission falls on unfortunate circumstances. The shuttle reaches a dangerous region of space and begins to experience technical malfunctions, represented by the purple glitch static and yellow transforming shape. These technical malfunctions lead to the tragic demise of the space exploration.




In conclusion, I feel that this piece is an accurate reflection of the After Effects skills I’ve learned so far this semester. I definitely feel that I was able to execute my vision for this piece on a technical level. On an artistic level, I am a bit less enthusiastic about my end results. While I do enjoy some aesthetic aspects of what I’ve created, I do wish that I had put more thought into my color and motion choices in the animation. At times in the animation, I feel that I introduce elements (such as the appearing and disappearing rectangles) simply for the sake of introducing new elements rather than for the purpose of furthering the narrative of the piece.




That said, I am very happy that I have created an animation to accompany a piece of my music. I also feel satisfied with this piece as a reflection of my abilities in After Effects. This piece demonstrates my proficiency in creating fractals, and .bmp text glitches, using keyframes, expressions, the kaleidoscope effect, trim paths, and the repeater effect.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

Above is the first gif that I’ve made. It uses the most basic animation technique, as it simply consists of two alternating images, flashing to an erratic rhythm. I constructed these designs in photoshop using the brush tool. The two images were initially created as separate pieces, but I soon noticed that they shared a similar color palette and shape. I then had the idea to pair them, which created the effect of the asterisk-like emblem (the first image) being distorted intoa messy scribble (the second image). As a result of its minimalist color palette and clean style, I find this to be the most visually appealing of the gifs I’ve made. However, from an animation standpoint it is definitely the most basic of my gifs. With my next gif, I set out to practice my animation skills.

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Visually, my second gif is quite simple: an orange rectangle diagonally slides back and forth across a teal background, with an occasional trail resembling the type of glitches found on mid-1990s windows operating systems. My intention with this gif was not to create an artistic masterpiece; rather, I sought to create a sense of movement through animation. While the animation of my first gif relied on two flashing images, this gif was an exercise in creating the illusion of movement by duplicating and moving one image (the orange rectangle) across many layers. Each position of the rectangle is a different layer, the visibility of which is determined by the animation frame. I’m happy with how the glitch trails turned out. One aspect of this gif which I feel unsuccessful with is creating the illusion of smooth movement. I tried using the tween effect, but the rectangle’s movement still appears more choppy than I would like.

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For my third gif, I decided to take the concepts of animated movement and flashing slides even further by creating a series of appearing and disappearing geometrical patterns that completely transforms throughout its loop. The goal of this gif was to take the audience on a visual journey as the image transforms entirely. There is no grand concept behind this gif; it is simply the product of me playing around with different combinations of layers I created in photoshop.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

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This glitch gif started as a cut-out mask of my image from the original photo.  This I layered over a stock photoshop background.  I saved this file in various formats, like png, jpeg, and bmp.  I then experimented by converting the files to txt, opening the text file, and making changes to the text.  I started by typing sentences or phrases, like “hi mom!” into the code because I wanted to find out what these sentiments looked like, and whether an angry sentence produced a different glitch than a happy one.  This process initially produced very subtle changes that were not extremely glitchy enough for my taste.  The alternate image in this gif is a glitched png in which I deleted large blocks of text before I converted it back to a png.  I then opened the two files in photoshop and alternated them with one another in the timeline. After learning to tween the layers, I wanted to play with a subtler shifting.   I played with color overlays of pink (the file behind the pink image is a jpeg glitch) and introduced a peek of city hall behind me in one of the between layers.  So, the portrait can be seen glitching from my original photo to a color shifted, turquoise toned block in the middle of the image.

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These two gifs are variations of an animation which shifted the color of the background layer behind graphic tiles.  If I were to make this again, I would start with a suitable base file.  Instead of opening a tile pattern on top of a base layer, I started with the jpeg image I had made as a wallpaper of leaves.  Then, I used the magic wand to select the negative space around the leaves and delete it to show the purple layer beneath.  This resulted in a pattern with small imperfections in the mask – they can be seen in the final gif.  However, what I like most about these two gifs is their style of clunky, neon internet art.  So I’m happy that these look like the myspace background of a clueless 13 year old.   These two gifs show how I developed my animation of the lighter pink square.

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Secondary

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To start this project off, I looked through the works of Josef and Anni Albers because I love the way that both of them use colors that are somewhat muted yet also rich. I used the digital color meter to get different RGB values from different pieces and saved some of my favorites for later reference. I originally thought I would do something inspired by to Josef Albers’ squares series by having my background grid be completely squares, with some squares larger and in different colors, to see how the two colors paired together. After trying this, however, I thought the larger squares would look better as circles.

 

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While looking at their paintings, I found one by a contemporary, Carmen Herrera, that inspired me to have the moving triangles on the sides of the wallpaper. I had the triangles pointing different directions and moving opposite directions based on the painting.

 

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To further oppose the vertical motion of the triangles, I wanted circles to bounce horizontally across the screen, and then because I had been trying to utilize white space and different opacities, I decided to have the circle be comprised of two arcs that were slightly separated.

 

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The canvas was looking pretty dark at this point, so I wanted to have a central, light figure that was rotating. I decided on a square to go against the circles in the background and the bouncing circles, and I wanted a light purple to go with the dark purple background and to further lighten from the background squares.

 

 

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Once I had reached this point, I felt that the background of the photo had kind of become detached from the rest of the piece, so I added ellipses in a different shade of yellow to make the entire thing more cohesive and also make the background pattern pop more with the interaction between the pink and purple with the yellow, creating the final product.

 

 

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Conference Project Proposal: Swimming In The Void

 

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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.

 

Video Mapping:Projector Night

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I first learned about fractals in my 10th grade math class, where my teacher simply described them as geometric patterns defined by nonlinear equations. At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested as I was unable to comprehend the mathematical jargon behind them. However, it was only during my hands on interaction with fractals on After Effects, where I was able to truly appreciate their seemingly infinite nature. As I kept magnifying the fractals, there was a sense of never-endingness, as each zoom presented a completely different pattern. That’s when I knew that I had use them for my video mapping project.

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I had initially mapped them on a plain white ceramic wall to see how my creation on After Effects  would be able to translate onto a physical space. Unfortunately, as I had no control over the lights at Heimbold, the colors in my projection looked much lighter and did not have the intense and vibrant effect, that I was aiming for.

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I eventually moved to the space outside our classroom, which had a dimmer lighting that made my projection look much more vivid and intense. Inspired by Krzysztof Wodiczko’s War Veteran projection, I mapped my projection onto an inanimate object (i.e: a white block) in order to give it a lively and animated quality. So far, I’ve only seen the blocks at Heimbold serve as surfaces for sculptures and so this session gave me the opportunity to make it look like it has a life of it’s own. It was also quite reminiscent to some of the illuminated blocks I have seen in music concerts and therefore had a bit of a musical vibe to it , mostly a neo-psychedelic pop quality.

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I was quite proud of the final result! The final projection had an almost paradoxical quality to it. There was a sense of chaos as the patterns kept changing every second and there were random spurts of several bright colors that greatly contrasted with the dark background. Nothing was constant for too long.  However, there were times when the patterns moved around more slowly and fluidly which created a sense of calm. The dark blue color of the  background also helped in balancing the chaotic and flashy nature of the patterns, with it’s calming presence. I felt a bit proud that I was able to captivate some of the audience members, as they interacted with the projection by making shadow puppets (see pic of Sabrina above!)

However I felt that several improvements could have been made to increase the level of engagement. For instance, I could have mapped my projection in a closed room with a dimmer lighting and a low ceiling. As the psychedelic quality of fractals are meant to have a cool, calming effect on people, I would prefer the projection to be carried out in an air conditioned room and instructed the spectators to view the projection (which would be mapped on to the ceiling) on their backs. Moreover, if I had the technological expertise to have more control over the movement of the fractals, I would have synced the patterns in projection to psychedelic pop music. Even if I didn’t have the expertise required, I could have asked the audience members to listen to the song, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala on their earphones, as they viewed my projection. Whenever, I listen to that song, I feel like I am bursting into water color and that is exactly how I felt when I viewed my projection. Hopefully, I would be able to convey a similar experience to my audience as well. Thus, if given a chance in a future, I would love to not only engage the spectator with the visual aspect of my projection but also be able to manipulate their auditory and tactile senses.

 

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

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The above GIF was inspired by Joe Maccarone, a Baltimore illustrator who is known for his surreal animated GIFS. His GIFs usually feature several cartoony illustrations made by hand drawn lines, flat colors and follow a very stream-of-consciousness style of illustration.

Most of his GIFs have narratives that circulate around the issue of mental health  and tend to stir some kind of deep emotion within the viewer. These gifs express something that is unspoken and relatable. My GIF is somewhat like that. I aimed to initially make the lips stretch out upwards to make a smile, so that the combination of smiles and tears could convey the idea of the façade that people put on to establish a sense of normalcy to others, as they are too afraid to reveal their inner turmoil. However I experienced difficulties while sketching it so I just decided to show the lips flashing colors, to evoke a sense of emotional chaos.

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The color palette and shapes of the above GIF has been inspired by Mattisse as it uses a combination of pure and vivid colors. The color palette of the diamonds is meant to evoke intense feelings in the viewer while the light background establishes a sense of serenity.

I initially wanted to make tiles of regularly shaped diamonds, however I did not pay attention to the x and y scales , and  ended up making more irregularly shaped diamonds which gained a more cartoony and surreal feel as the animation progressed.

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This GIF follows a proper,  fixed narrative compared to the other two as the viewer expects an outcome at the end. I liked the idea of colors swishing inside a ball and upon the burst of the ball, there’s a splash of color , which creates a very satisfying effect. If I could improve upon this GIF, I would make the ball have some designs swirling inside it – maybe a concentric circle. The concentric circle could have the same color scheme as the pattern of splashes in the final layer.  Moreover, the initial background could have a color other than a monochromatic color like white, to make it look more engaging and interesting.

 

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Scratch Lag

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I attempted to make hard-coded and animated recreations of Hirsh’s style from Scratch Pad using processing and although some do not fully capture the expressive experimental style of his film I am content with the results.

The project first began to change from my initial intentions when I had to understand the limits of the softwares ability to create functions that would sometimes contradict each other in order to create the same patterns as Hirsh. This was particularly the case when I first began hardcoding his patterns and when I had to animate them the coordinates of the designs would chaotically sprout of control. I had this problem with sketch 1, which is a screenshot of a hardcoded image, and in the film that pattern rotates across the screen but when I tried this in processing the entire image was rotated into a sporadic mixture of shapes. screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-1-16-39-pm

 

Even though this code did not turn out how I expected it to, I think it captures the same intent of Hirsh’s pattern by creating a pattern that is unrestrained by the intents of the artist, given itself its own sense of autonomy.

However, what went right with the project is that using noise was an effective method to capture the same effects of Hirsh’s patterns as well as the fine details of his film. I thought noise was particularly useful in image number 2 where I used “for” to create a series of black dots to apply the same kind of graininess as in the original footage, as well as to create a contrasting static effect with the stillness of the background. For image number 3 I used “laststep” in order to create a singular generative pattern of lines and implemented the “random” function to their coordinates.

When I first began on these sketches I momentarily struggled with creating shapes made to look like they were drawn with expression of a human or chemical reaction rather than the pinpoint accuracy of a computer. However once I properly understood the system of vertex shapes and their relationship with “bezierVertex” commands the process became much more fluid. I also found “curveVertex” shapes to become progressively easier the more specific I was with the shapes and fill I desired. This was particularly the case with image number 4 where I incorporated a portrait photograph of myself and outlined certain areas of my face to add expression and add random to fill my shadow in order to change its form.

Overall I think the sketches are aesthetically appealing but I also think they need to be more fine tuned and include more functions in order to show more signs of progressions in the forms displayed.

For image no.3 I changed the coordinates of the black foreground into a diagonal line in order to change the picture plane so that it wouldn’t appear as flat as before. I then drew subtle lines using noise to appear as plants being blown by wind and then created a black sun using noise lines. I then created  a second telephone pole and connected it to the first white telephone pole with electrical lines . I called the movie ‘Desert Highway’ because I think the overall image looks like a desert landscape and that there is an uncanny resemblance the figures and shapes in the film have to natural or industrial structures in real life.

 

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For image no.2 I added a noise background with texture just like in the film and added noise to all sides of the yellow square so that there is a constant flow of movement with all the patterns in the sketch. I called this sketch ‘Static because I thought the noise patterns are quite intense like the electric static on an old fashioned television.

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For image no.1 I used ‘push matrix’ and ‘pull matrix’ in order to make individual shapes rotate independently of each other. The shapes now rotate in a complete circle and also as a result create interesting patterns that continue to develop as the shapes continuously rotate.

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I created another sketch from Hirsh’s film where a series of randomly drawn dots fill up the screen:

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In order to create every uniquely shaped dot I used ‘curveVertex’ which resulted in the shapes in the recreation being almost identical to the original footage:screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-47-59-pm

 

I then made the sketch interactive by implementing ‘mouseX’ and ‘mouseY’ into the shapes coordinates along with noise too so that the shapes could be constantly moving and changing even when the mouse is stationary.

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Conference Project Proposal: Scratch Lag

For my conference conference I will be recreating frames and exerts from the experimental film ‘Scratch Pad’ (1960) by American photographer and experimental filmmaker/animator Hy Hirsh.

Here is currently the only available online footage from ‘Scratch Pad’ that I will be working from: https://youtu.be/sWj1K4i46ps

I’d be using techniques we studied in the course to create a greater sense of liveliness in his work and also blend my own style that has developed through using Processing . Here are six frames from a brief online exert of ‘Scratch Pad’ that I will recreate in Processing and use as a basis for my conference project:

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I think this project would be an interesting way to demonstrate how  the unconventional tools and techniques in early film/animation of 20th avant-gard artists  for creating unpredictable abstract media would translate into modern computing that was created for the same purpose and could relatively achieve the same outcome.

My interest in experimental film and animation  was what drew me to Hirsh as an artist because he was among the first filmmakers in the 20th century to incorporate electronic imagery into film. Hirsh experimented by using tools used in the film and animation industry of his time in an  unconventional environment with other forms of media in order to create unexpected visual results. He  would create randomly generated patterns in his films by using superimposed oscilloscope patterns printed through colour filters and ‘Scratch Pad’ utilises found-footage and graffiti with superimposed closeups of metallic structures to create the impression of 3D sculptures.

I think Scratch Pad, and Hirsch’s other works, could be considered as generative art because the patterns are created depending on how the material Hirsch uses effects the film which could make them autonomous because the process is unpredictable and out of the control of the artist. I think his work is also very relevant to what I’ve studied about “noise” because we’ve used noise in processing as a means to create natural imperfections and progression in our generative drawings and Hirsch’s goal for his films is to create expressive unpredictable shapes that change over the course of its duration to create a sense of liveliness for the viewer. I hope to achieve this same outcome for the viewer so that they can experience liveliness through unrestricted generated patterns.

However, my main concern for this project is that the final result may not contain the same kind of raw expression and results as Hirsch’s film because the patterns generated in Processing will be predictable to me as the artist whereas Hirsh’s  circumstances were more accidental.However I think where I have the advantage is that processing can create the same effects that Hirsh strived for without having to use the same tools he had that aren’t at my disposal, such as an oscilloscope.

I tried to create similar scratch patterns from Hirsh in my sketchbook. For the first sketch I pressed onto the paper very hard with a dry pen so as to create imprints on the paper, or scratches, and then traced the surface with a pencil. This resulted in somewhat faint but textured white lines with a contrasting textured background:

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For the other sketches I used a white colour pencil for making the imprints and then drew over the surface with charcoal. The white lined patterns were much more defined this time around and the fragility of the charcoal made it easier to the capture the imprints without having to push down too hard on the surface of the paper.

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I incorporated some of the shapes and patterns from my own programs to Hirsh’s scratching style:

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I really enjoyed this process because I felt there was a sense of control I had to give to the material since I could not see what I was actually drawing until I applied the charcoal but it felt more natural that way since generative art requires the artist to relinquish some control in order to give the art-piece autonomy.

As well as figuring out how I can incorporate my own programs to Hirsh’s ‘Scratch Pad’ style , I also looked towards the other students in the course and the artists they presented to the class for inspiration. I thought Moyna’s movie ‘beam’ created a very mesmerising effect on the viewer because of how the white lines around the the gyrating red beam move so fluidly whilst intertwined chaotically with ease. I also find it interesting how the lines in her movie are coming from different directions all at the same time to create unique pattern, which I think would be an interesting idea to apply to the horizontal and vertical chaotic line patterns in ‘Scratchpad’.  screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-16-01-am           screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-41-58-am

I also thought some aspects of Sonia Sheridan’s photography were very similar Hirsh’s approach to film in terms of how she tampers with the development process of the photograph in order to create new generated forms that transform the image.

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There is also how  both artists use media to distort form such as how Sheridan superimposes her face onto the image with photocopier where as Hirsh mainly focuses on industrial landscapes and structures to create a less literal form. I may try to experiment with both these artists methods of distorting form in order to see how they may compare or contrast in practice.

I would first code my sketches by using “loops” as a means to create the shapes and patterns in ‘Scratch Pad’ with the same colour schemes as the frames in the film. However the shapes  in the patterns all vary in form and none of them are symmetrical so I will be creating them through vertex shapes so as to give the impression that they are hand drawn and not generated by a computer. I would also use “for” to create some of the more finer details in the patterns such as the grainy dots that appear in the frame or random tears that resulted from Hirsh tampering with the actual film. For incorporating photography I would use the ‘image’ function to apply my own photographs into the program and see how the generated patterns could interact with the photograph.Once I have completed my still sketches my next step would be to animate them into a loop so as to capture the same vibrant movement in ‘Scratch Pad’ and apply more dimensions to them to create the same textures and spatial relationships of the patterns.

Post Mortem: Conference Project:: Black and White Euphoria

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For my final conference project, I designed a web cam that picks up motion detection. When the user moves, the black and white pattern on the screen will move too. This makes the design evolve further because the user keeps on changing it with their movement. Every minute, the pattern changes into a new one with different sized shapes with different levels of transparencies. This keeps the user more engaged because there are more surprises in how the pattern will change.

I was inspired by the artists Bridget Riley and Ryoji Ikeda because they both primarily work in black and white to create complex patterns and designs. I really admired their styles and I wanted to create a project that resembled their artwork. I think that I was able to accomplish that because I created ten different black and white patterns that are similar to their style.

Creating this project took a lot of planning and time because I had to create ten different patterns. I also got to play with it a lot and test it out. I found it really fun to play around with because it always surprised me. It doesn’t always have the same outcome because the user’s motions will be different every time. This shows that my conference project is abstract and will always be evolving into something new as each person uses it. I decided to have each shape move at different speeds. This added to the abstract element of the project because the pattern doesn’t move in uniform. This means that the user can’t anticipate when the pattern will shift or how it will shift.

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The code of my project involved a lot. First, I imported video into processing, so I could use motion detection through the webcam. Then, I created different variables for each shape within each different pattern. I had 90 variables in total. After that, I made a list of all ten patterns. Within each pattern, I had a section that specified the speed of each shape and how fast it moved, based on the motion detection. For example, I could say that a certain ellipse would move every three seconds, while a different ellipse would move every second. Following this code, was the list of shapes within the pattern. Under void draw(), I wrote the motion count and specified the order and duration of each pattern.

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After looking back at Martijn de Waal’s ideology, it is clear that my project falls into the category of a “playground/magic circle.” This interaction that I’ve created offers a site of play, is a voluntary activity, isn’t rational, and forms community. This means that it is more open ended to how people will use the interaction. The user can move in front of the webcam by themselves or with other people. This displays the potential to create a magic circle. If multiple users are in front of the camera at the same time, they can create a different pattern together. This could increase interaction between people because they may choose to work together. For example, they could try to move the shapes to one side of the screen or to hold still to see the pattern freeze. Since the project is very open ended, there are so many things people could try to do with it.

Overall, I had a lot of fun making this project because I really like the idea that it can evolve into something so different and abstract every time. I also really enjoyed deigning black and white patterns because I love the way that they look.

Conference Project Proposal: Regulation

Conference Project Proposal: Regulation

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For my conference work I have decided to partially build a holographic illusion. Using plastic, I will create a rhombus with the fine point in the middle of the structure. I will be building this on using the repurposed monitor of a Dell computer and using cheap, thin, plastic to build the rhombus. I was wondering about other materials that a hologram could work with- would a “hologram” work using a saran wrap type material? wax paper? Originally, I planned to build the plastic rhombus with the center point being the projector- but there was a high possibility that this could not work out. I would like to utilize the Mac Mini’s to use madmapper to project on the wall behind the installed holographic illusion.  I would also like to use a kinect or leap motion for the user to interact with either (or, preferably, both)  the hologram or the map behind the hologram. I would like to utilize this experiment to discuss about internal selves and its interaction with the environment/ experimenting with what an internal self might perceptually look like. It would be interesting to experiment with having the user interact with both things, to show the hardship that comes with regulating a self in an abstract/ juxtaposing environment. With my map, I would like to work on dimensionalizing the abstract space behind the hologram using just the projections and light- with the main inspiration being from Urbanscreen and Ryoji Ikeda. I will be creating patterns specifically for this purpose.  I would like to use the hologram and the projection map, both reliant on the interaction between light and form, to see if I can dimensionalize internal/ non perceivable space. I wonder if being able to dimensionalize such aspects of the self in an abstract environment might help with internal regulation. This installation will hopefully encourage play by encouraging the audience to interact with the hologram and environment- and experimenting with using both using either a kinect or leap motion. I am keeping in mind a more physical play for this installation.

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Sketches:

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Hallucination Room

I attempted to create a subtle narrative involving these girls interacting with each other and their dimly lit house. I wanted to transform the corner of the wall into a place that spied on these girls and let the viewer into their world. I created various white panels that were to appear as windows into these little moments. The clips contained slow and subtle movements occurring in loops which created a hallucinatory impact as you were unsure if the clips were images or moving video. In these clips, the girls interact with each other but acknowledge the viewer at times by looking at them. This includes the viewer in their space, but still establishes them as observer. I found the panels I used to be excellent reflectors of projector light. However, my clips seemed to be filmed far too dark and the piece suffered affect for that reason.

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Towards the end of the cuelist, I distorted the image to not fit in one panel, but be spread across the panel and wall. I realized this was more interesting.

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I wish I had not limited myself to fitting the image in the boxes I created for most of the cuelist. I think that the image appears more interesting when one plays with the placement of images on the surface rather than placing them where they fit perfectly to the surface.

Project #1: Hallucination Room

Hallucinations: Shouts from the Unseen

For the hallucination room, I attempted to create an installation playing on the invisible systems which we embed cognitively. Orbital systems and their paradoxical relationship to systems of a disruptive cognitive nature could change our perception of reality. Largely, I am fascinated by the axiomatic design of non-Euclidean geometry and, if due to this, human beings could begin to optically and cognitively perceive non Euclidean geometry whilst living in a perceptually valid Euclidean world. Also how this would affect people’s theory of mind, experience of narrative, and spatial/ temporal space perception. I attempted to let people subliminally play with a hallucination that may speak to an unknown or unperceived reality. This attempt was largely ineffective, though it gives better structure and ideas for future explorations.

To begin, a simple explanation regarding the definition of non-Euclidean geometry: In mathematics, non-Euclidean geometry consists of two geometries based on axioms closely related to Euclidean geometry. Non- Euclidean geometry arose historically due to the logical invalidity of Euclid’s fifth postulate. Euclid’s fifth postulate stated that two parallel lines will eventually meet, which was found to be invalid: thus non-Euclidean geometry was born.  Non-Euclidean geometry “arises when either the metric requirement is relaxed, or the parallel postulate is replaced with an alternative one.” With the replacement of Euclid’s fifth parallel postulate, one obtains either hyperbolic and elliptic (riemannian) geometry. The essential difference between Euclidean (the geometry that we see/ perceive) and non-Euclidean (what we cannot) is the fifth postulate, more commonly known as the parallel postulate. So, in Euclidean geometry, lines are at a constant distance from each other and are known as parallel, two points will equal a line, and is the geometry learned in high school and the geometry of our perceived world. Non-Euclidean geometry, simply speaking, is not that- and comes to two well known non-Euclidean geometries: Hyperbolic and Riemannian. Hyperbolic plane geometry replaces the fifth postulate of Euclidean geometry with its own. Hyperbolic plane geometry is known as the geometry of saddle surfaces or pseudospherical surfaces, meaning, surfaces with a constant negative Gaussian curvature (a saddle shape). Some physicists, in the likes of Einstein, believe that space is curved and that the general theory of relativity adheres to hyperbolic geometry. This has been recently disputed as evidence has actually pointed to more flat based geometry, though it is still under investigation. M.C. Escher utilized hyperbolic geometry in a lot of his work. In Riemannian geometry (sometimes known as elliptic geometry or spherical geometry) the lines curve forward. Riemannian is the geometry of curved surfaces- which is directly connected to our lives on our curved surface, Earth. Non-Euclidean geometries are those that we do not easily perceive, but are forces that mysteriously shape our world, and that nonetheless live in logical and axiomatic truth.

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Graphic Examples: From left to right: A Hyperbolic Sphere, a naturally occurring hyperbolic sphere: Coral, M.C. Escher’s usage of non-Euclidean geometry, a Riemannian surface.

 

Authors such as Borges and Dostoevsky utilized non-euclidean geometry and the way it plays with temporary spatial perception to be used as a catalyst and subject in their narratives. They also utilized the narrative structure in which non-euclidean geometry was born out of: Axiomatic systems.  Borges utilizes the structure of an axiomatic system to go through The Library of Babel, in which the narrative architecture is Non Euclidean. Borges essentially subversively manipulates his audience and brings them into his world through the use of an axiomatic system, which is inherently designed to be logically valid to human beings. Thus, further deepening the validity, investment, and  intrigue in Borge’s audience has in the story. Subversively, Borges utilized the subliminal way that our brain plays with the validity of logical, axiomatic thinking in order to facilitate a great spatial understanding of the space. Borges made the brian play with itself. Some may think this is hallucinatory and, frankly, evil.

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky used the axiomatic system of Non Euclidean geometry to show how it could disrupt natural systems, i.e. God’s creation, thus theologically rendering non euclidean geometry similar to evil. This is also a factor in why I chose this topic for this project. One of the main characters of the book, Ivan, contends that non euclidean geometry should not have been made if there was an all knowing, perfect God. Because, if there was such a God, non-Euclidean geometry should not have been allowed to exist. Non euclidean geometry was a mathematical discovery, one based in reason, whereas the firm belief in euclidean geometry was a belief in reason- but now reason states, that is wrong. This is similar to how evil relates to Godliness- we are told that evil is necessary/ that God created evil, though this makes no sense and causes doubts in many believers. Yet, it is called reason and systematically validated. Ivan fears insanity as his beliefs in reason and God are shaken when confronted with the invisible system of non-Euclidean geometry.

Mitch Stokes in “Dostoevsky on the problems of Evil and Geometry” expands further:

 

“ Ivan’s struggle mirrors the West’s. Since before Plato, the West held reason in high esteem (The modernist spirit is not, therefore, modern after all.) But then – just when the Enlightenment was hitting its stride- reason threw itself into doubt with non-Euclidean geometry. This discovery is one of the main causes of postmodernism’s suspicion of reason. But much of Dostoyevsky’s commentary here would be lost on us without an appreciation of the non-Euclidean revolution. And this is but one example of how widespread mathematics influence is. Not putting too fine a point on it, mathematics is important. But merely being able to do mathematics is insufficient, primarily because there’s much more to understanding mathematics than recipes and formulas. To be sure, mathematics is a powerful means for describing, predicting, and controlling the physical world. But its study is also required for understanding culture. To allude to Kant: calculation without understanding is empty, understanding without calculation is impossible. Our problem with geometry is not the modernist’s; our problem  is that we don’t understand it.”

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Various illustrations of the library of Babel

I wanted to further allude to this problem in my design and how non Euclidean geometry represents an important function of human culture in general. The functions, restraints and study of Non Euclidean geometry is similar in how human beings embed hierarchical power structures and give them episodic validity, thus making them ‘real’ and able to initiate action. This alludes to how such episodic validity is given to other structures of power such as a belief in capitalism, white supremacy, etc. The mystery behind such immense belief is often puzzling and in direct adherence with the quote alluding to Kant via Stokes “calculation without understanding is empty, understanding without calculation is impossible.” This is a topic I wanted to explore along with this phenomenons interactivity with culture.

Rigorous axiomatic systems in which non Euclidean geometry are built on are similar to how neural structures work in the brain, in that they are validated systematically and repeatedly through different conceptions of “proof”. When viewing a space, our brain is calculating temporally and mapping spatially- which is calculation. But, one must need understanding and moreover, ecologic validation. Understanding comes from the negotiation with context, object, function, and form. An installation is the perfect venue in which to have this negotiating playing in real time. While using this logical mode of thought, and in an attempt to make non euclidean structures neurologically valid in terms of spatial acceptance, I tried to facilitate such understanding through using materials and forms that allude to natural systems fixed with the juxtaposition of such non Euclidean traits via mapped projections, which were reliant on light.

Paradoxical Design: Intention and Failure

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My installation was informed by physical materials symbolizing natural systems, which I used to structure my installation. I built the idea of my surface around natural systems. Utilizing the materials of paper and plastic, I was able to build using said natural systems in the most common way we consume them- in their condensed, commodified, capital form. A similar sizing down to the singular model and example of a system of Non Euclidean geometry I used in clip form.

My original plan for the structure of this project was to further build out the space with pieces of hard construction paper and have the projector inside the structure- thus the natural system would be housing the “un natural”. Though, this did not work out

Originally, the structure was supposed to be made entirely out  of paper, but that changed as I began experimenting with plastic, canvas, and a hard white styrofoam. I played with many alternate materials. I enjoyed working with the paper material, canvas, styrofoam and plastic for the natural systems form and materials. The physical structure worked semi-well. It definitely gave the mood of a natural system, though the paradox effect did not come off generally.

First paper structure

First paper structure

 

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A side view

A side view

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The hallucination attempted to be the result of the strange merging and acceptance of two seemingly juxtaposed systems- of the physical structure/ material and of the material of light from the projections.  In the installation, it ended up looking like they did not interact due to the structures not correctly harnessing/ manipulating light. I wanted the non-Euclidean structure to be represented through light- as light is another things which humans perceive but do not necessarily consider the systems behind. (I.e. how such invisible systems are living underneath common acceptance and how that is brought to life through the juxtaposing materials.) Similarly, the juxtaposition between the light of the projection and the materials was almost too extreme for effectiveness. The scene looked cluttered and was not as intended. It was not captivating enough for people to look at or even mildly be interested at interacting with, as the narrative of an unidentified model, colors, and structure were not enough to inform even a mild narrative. This was definitely a good learning process for me.

 

This installation was not successful as the light did not interact with the physical structures as thought. Even with this fact, it was similar to my original intention of the piece. Such invisible systems contrast- with the natural, preconceived, and perceived areas of it. Due to my preconceived notion of non Euclidean geometry during construction, the perceived areas did not have such an alarming effect for the general audience due to their extreme juxtaposition, but if looking closer, the paradoxes still ring true. There is still the perception of illusion for the audience within the work.

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For instance, looking up close on the paper object,  it became clear that the digital fabric was juxtaposing with the material as well as interacting with it. The merging of these two materials: paper and light, created a paradoxical, juxtaposed effect, though still seemed to merge. This is similar to how I hypothesize humans could begin to interpret non Euclidean geometry. Though, that was not clear or present to the audience or to anyone if they were not actively interacting with the installation- which my choice of structure and clips did not allow.

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The clips also worked well, though they were not nearly dynamic enough to engage an audience whatsoever. I understood that the way to play between this juxtaposition was to rely on simpler clips that allowed for the space to negotiate itself- such as the single clip of the Non Euclidean model animation. The positioning of the projector, paired with this clip, allowed for the light to look as if it were pulling the materials into its enclosed reality. I learned that with the negotiation of context, simplicity is key as well as focusing on playing with light.

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I arrived at my map by looking at a behavior that requires our utilization, understanding, and commodification of it: a systematized investigation of a system we view as natural. For this, I began wondering about how humans use water- to drink, to bathe, to relax. Creating another system from the natural system that is the creation and use of water. Similar to Euclidean geometry, we see this as normal and non disruptive. I disrupted this by taking footage of people using water and reversing it and flipping them to have a paradoxical effect. Over this I projected various Non-Euclidean models, each representing themselves on the basis of great circles.  I mapped this clip underneath the structure of the natural systems in order to attempt to convey how non-Euclidean geometry interacts in the real world. Also projected were brain neurons firing over a man ray animation over a paper stagnant structure, commenting on the plastic nature of such perceived structures (like the brain).

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Mapping onto paper structure

The projection in its current form, as I have found, does not generally encourage play-which is particularly unnerving. It was supposed to encourage play on a subliminal, curious, level and encourage the audience to take notice of the mild changes in their perception of natural forms and continue along that axiomatic line of thought.  I had in mind the type of play that Non Euclidean geometry calls for: a mental invisible type of play- a play that requires a deep introspection on such systems of thought. This, in retrospect, is a very hard goal to achieve. Nevertheless, I will continue to try. Urbanscreen seems to encourage such introspection quite well, part of me wonders if it has to do with the way sound is used in their constructed environments.

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Time constraints definitely hindered my project and resulted in a less than desired result, particularly when it came to the structure. I did not have the time or materials to build out the space as intended, but it was a good lesson when it came to negotiating space and form. This experience will allow me to rely more heavily on the importance of light.

Inspiration 

 

There were some artists that formed and inspired my design and conception. Feng Mengbo, with Long March: Restart (2008,) created a narrative of his life during Mao’s regime utilizing the structural elements of a Mario video game. With no context, the user does not know he is playing in a complicit power structure but still embeds the basic motivations, goals, and necessities of the characters of that time.

Nalini Malani’s Gamepieces (2003/2009) works with how components of her work adapt to the architecture of space, which directly results in works success. Actively juxtaposing images of war and violence, blue skies, and “earthly images” project from the mobile, cylindrical structures in Gamepieces. Malani’s “comment emphasizes contingency. In the hierarchy of components that constitute an artwork, it seems obvious to emphasize the importance of the constant non-varying components.” (Gamepieces: An Installation Deconstructed, Briggs, Sydney, 2015). Nalini Malani plays on the audiences want for a presupposed hierarchical structure of components and allows the removal of such hierarchical systems to allow the audience to reflect on that.

Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil war as it Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart

Kara Walker relies on the historical system of adding meaning to eighteenth-century cut-paper silhouette to critique historical narratives of slavery in “Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil war as it Occurred b’tween the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart” (1994). Walker juxtaposes tumultuous, unnerving imagery which “confounds conventional attributions of power and oppression” paired with a material derived from a systematic practice of self reference and leisure for white, upper class, people of the south in the eighteenth century- a practice still in place in the south today. Walker relies on the audiences inference on such systems of exploring the self in relation to narrative environment in order to realize how “whiteness is just as artificial a construct as blackness is.” (Walker, Gallery label from Contemporary Art from the Collection, June 30, 2010- September 12,2011, Moma.) The Urbanscreen collective has been a tireless source of inspiration for me while learning about digital media.

''320° licht' by Urbanscreen

”320° licht’ by Urbanscreen

The URBANSCREEN collective artistically manipulates the material of light for site-specific public media such as “architectural projections, augmented sculptures, media facade concepts and virtual theatre.” They “investigate the phenomena that occur when the material world is superimposed with the digital, and inversely, when the digital overlaps with reality”. They go on to state “by experimenting with the syntheses of digital media and material objects and spaces, we discover new forms of artistically conveyed studies of a living environment that keeps changing as we speak.” (Urbanscreen, 2015) Urbanscreen looks to working with a new living environment in order to augment our perceptions of what a proper reality looks like, which opens the door to many unknown effects: culturally, cognitively, and artistically. All of which constantly interplay and negotiate with each other to create our shared reality. 

 

Conference Proposal: The Home is Heavy

A house becomes alive with the memories created from living/interacting in it. It is more than a structure of shelter, it is the environment that represents family, socializing, privacy, and personal style. I want to create a medium sized structure that gives a viewer the opportunity to see into a home. Is it their own? Their neighbor’s? Is it even a home at all? The house will look conventional but have slight surreal variations of scale, and dimension. It will appear as 3 stories with a pool and lawn. Using both real clips and surreal pattern projections I plan to tell a story, not a narrative, of the energy that goes on within a home. Some themes I am are considering are the juxtaposition of love and sorrow, and memories that share both. 03-FRAN-SILVESTRE-ARQUITECTOS-VALENCIA-HOUSE-ON-THE-CLIFF-SKECH-MODELcalc_home

Conference project: m/m, or Love in the time of fetishistic scopophilia

For my map, I wanted to do something that involved the way we map emotions across media. For my last project, I mapped my depression across multimedia and bodily existence, but I wanted to do something more poetic and less straightforward this time.

I was a big fanboi when I was much younger with regards to gay male fanfiction specifically, and had recently got back into it because of a reconsideration of the dynamics involved in tumblr slashfic/”shipping” culture, as well as because my boyfriend was into it. When I read Laura Mulvey last year, I wrote a little about the implications of the community’s gender dynamics: a population of mostly young women imagine a fantasist homosexual life for their favorite characters, which saves these characters from the poisonousness of their stoic masculinity, heterosexuality, and violence, or at least helps them accept the nature of these issues. These women use the techniques of screenshotting, making gifs, fanart, and fan writing to feminize the characters by detaching them from the narratives of their stories and objectifying them. They also uphold and liberate their masculinities in their sexuality; often these characters are not even presented as gay-identified, simply desiring of each other.

I identified with the commonly accepted ideas around Captain America (Steve Rogers) and the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes. I identified with the narrative presented of two men who had been through huge psychological and physical changes in their lives, but still managed to find their way back together. Rogers is born a sickly and thin boy in the late 1920s, takes an experimental serum that makes him grow into a super-soldier, becomes an overnight sensation and an unstoppable weapon, and is eventually cryogenically frozen during a heroic suicide, only to be thawed out in the 21st century. His childhood best friend Barnes dies while serving during WWII in Rogers’s unit, only to be frozen himself and come back brainwashed as a Soviet super-assassin assigned to kill Rogers. After some mutual beatdowns, Rogers breaks him out of his conditioning and the two reunite, nearly 100 years after their original lives began. As told by fans, it is a classic masculine gay story about two muscular and sad men, who, having known each other and been best friends growing up, are usually presented as soulmates. Regardless of their canon sexualities, their story is both emotionally and physically deep.

For me, Rogers’s growth to physical masculinity through chemicals paralleled my transsexualism, and Barnes’s sadness and identity confusion paralleled my depression and dysphoria. These men, in their imagined relationship, had something admirable and resonant to me that I could seek to emulate: a love that was about friendship and care, but that also acknowledged the reality of trauma, identity splits, and hurting one another. As I started a new relationship with someone who had simular experiences of trauma and transness to me, I sought this love as an ideal. I wanted to be good, understanding, and giving in a way that I had only seen in tandem with masculinity and violence in the context of fanfiction.

My partner also introduced me to the 70s cop drama Starsky and Hutch. The relatiomship between the eponymous leads of the show contains dynamics simular to that of Barnes and Rogers, in that there was a blond and a brunette, who were both about muscles and masculinity, but also constantly struggling to take care of each other in an unforgiving and violent world. Violence on the show allows for homoeroticism and femininity in the context of the two comforting each other.

It was these elements (my identification with the different men and their journeys, my belief in the gendered power of fan imagination, and my desire to be good for my partner in the queer way that these men were good for each other) that came together into my conference project.

Through collage poetry layered over fanart and screenshots, some of them lightly edited, I explore the ways in which my mind layered these different elements. I “mapped” the path of my mind through these love stories, emphasizing my own, in the spaces of the internet, time, fantasy, trauma, and reality. I used text from my own writing, as well as relevant passages from fanfiction and academic writing. I set the project into a timeline from an online template in order to get my desired narrative flow and to emphasize time as a setting.

The project maps the invisible ways in which media portrayals of relationships affect our thinking, especially about our real-life romances. I was seeking to shed light on how, instead of learning from romance movies or pornography, a marginalized subject such as myself must seek out other models for romantic ideals. I journey through a collective fantasy media, its existence itself a mapping of ruptures in heterosexual masculinity, to learn a queer utopian ethics that is unique to my own romantic project.

Lastly, I wanted the form itself to feed back into the larger fan project of mapping the invisible and communal world of fantasy, especially female and trans fantasy. I wanted a fan to be able to read it and like it.

You can see the project by clicking here. It is hosted on my tumblr because wordpress does not support embeds. TW for trans(boy) feels, bdsm including bloodplay, violence, maybe a lil body horror/sexual trauma weirdness. I suggest you zoom in to 150% as i haven’t quite gotten the embedding right yet. It does not show up on mobile.

Conference Project: Overwhelmed by Fact

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final piece (minus screens)

 

inside view

inside view

When I began with this installation project, I was very daunted by both the size, and the pressure to deliver such a poignant message. My installation hopes to “overwhelm by fact”. Once you enter you are faced with a monitor that has numbers that are moving at a rate of three digits per minute, which reflects the number of people that are becoming refugees. This is based approximately on recent refugee toll consensus. Behind the numbers are pictures of the many important historical and cultural sites that were bombed by the IS in Iraq and Syria. To the left is Iraq, to the right Syria. The backgrounds of both walls are statistics: good, bad, mundane, everything I could find, statistics to us have become numbers, the idea is to make you notice that you don’t care anymore. In front of these statistics will be screens playing videos- videos of violence, dance, poetry, war, culture: life. Life still goes on despite war, statistics can help us forget that and other the victims of war and injustice, let me now overload you with all the images you half pay attention to all day, maybe then, you will be affected.

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surface

construction plans

construction plans

sketch of screen (sign system)

sketch of screen (sign system)

As a design piece, my installation proved many challenges. I was originally planning on using the metal structure that the visionaries used in their sculpture, when visiting their site and walking through their space I was really inspired by the idea of being enveloped by art, on all sides, the potential for delivering maximum affect. But with circumstances of Formal and rain, I had to consider other options for my base structure. My solution turned into an attempt at carpentry that went better than expected. I was at first worried about my ability to be able to use tools for the carpentry process, however I became very rudimentary in my design and reverted to nails and hammers for the construction of the entire structure. The biggest struggle came when I realized that Home Depot only cut straight lines and couldn’t make cutouts in my wood pieces—this was a problem because I needed spaces for the wires to connect the LCD screens to the power source and computer. This caused a drastic shift in my thinking: I discarded the LCD monitor idea and decided to go with tablets. After being able to recruit enough friends to lend me tablets, I was able to then puncture holes with a screwdriver just big enough for the small chargers to go through. I was then left, with one more challenge. I had thought the easiest part was going to be making this ticking refugee toll, I was sorely mistaken. I soon learned that coding knowledge was needed for this, knowledge that I did not know. Through some pleading and favors someone from the coding class made me a program that would make the numbers increase, it apparently wasn’t that complicated. What became complicated however was that this program could only work on a computer… and my installation couldn’t support an LCD monitor anymore. I solved my last and final issue by finding by the grace of app makers an app that converts allows you to remotely control your computer through your tablet, thus allowing the coding program to open and be displayed! The process was tumultuous and stressful. From near-miss hammer and nail accidents to the logistical nightmare of moving it into Heimbold, I have gained both respect and admiration for the sculpture process, but have never more understood the danger of underestimating time.

I had never thought of mapping in such a physical and three dimensional way before both this class and the undertaking of this project. Even the basic physical lines of life represent a potential for signs and mapping, both visible and invisible. Through this project, I really hope to make you feel invisible—the life of the ordinary man Syria/Iraq—through bombarding you with the visible that we’re shown every day. The life that still goes on is a notion that the news likes to squash. Its like we want to believe when a country is at war, there is nothing else their citizens can be doing but “being at war”, but hey, look at that—divorce rates increased, I guess lawyers got more popular—but no one cares, right? Because war is numbers, deaths, dollars, drones, who cares Iraq’s unemployment rate finally improved?

Conference Map Pt. 2: Execution

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By the end of the fifteen days, the amount of time spent was flipped and I had spent more time in the backyard than I did in the pub (at around day 6 I got food poisoning from one of their sandwiches, which caused a huge drop-off in my attendance). Quality resulted pretty much how I expected: the pub didn’t break past COOL, and the backyard got to HOT later in the timeline.

In terms of the visualization, I wanted the map to have a timeline feel to it, since the information being shown is inherently linear and progressive. Lines seemed like the best option for this as they exaggerate linearity and make your eyes move from A to B naturally. I decided that color should indicate quality, and that thickness should correspond to time spent. I wanted there to be an easy way to compare the days of both places, so I had the lines from both days fork away from each other in a mirrored way.

Numerous visual changes need to be made to my map over this weekend. For one, I’ve decided that emphasizing linearity is less important than providing a gestalt impression of both places. Therefore, I plan to arrange the lines into more circular shapes, and I will be eliminating the days in which I did not go to a location. This way, one place will be immediately recognized as providing a more positive experience than the other. I will also implement the thickness as a measurement of time that I previously mentioned I would utilize.

Conference Project: NYC: A Study of Light

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My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though the sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” makes the audience (or people within the structure) pay attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding or “absorption” of the architecture.

The viewer’s participation and individual reaction to the work deems the work itself as a theatrical performance meant to inspire reflection. There are specific factors that are applied to art and architecture (such as time and space in relation to weather, lighting, and season) that are regarded as essential to the display (or the performance) of the piece. The experience of the individual is what ultimately defines the work; an experience that is aroused by the way in which the room or building is displayed.

A lot of inspiration for this conference project comes from Tadao Ando’s Church of Light. This structure is one of the prime examples of the concept of theatricality in architecture and the difference between a structure’s era of “performance” versus the time in which environmental factors are not in favor of the building. The interior of the church is simple with very little ornament, and the major focus point of the structure (a large cross cut out of the wall that provides a source of light to the inside of the building) relates the interior directly to the exterior. In addition, essentially all of the visual documentation of this structure is taken at the point of the epiphany, and never when the interior is “void”; an act of censorship similar to the way in which artists can control the environment in which their work is displayed, unlike the real, functioning structure of the Church of Light in a current and continuous context.

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Tado Ando’s “Church of Light” Source: Google Images/forums.cgsociety.org

In this project, I went to various locations in my neighborhood on the upper west side and took note of which direction the windows were facing. I went to the Apple Store (SE), my own apartment (SE and S), Lincoln Center Opera House (E), Church of St. Paul the Apostle (SW and NW), and Grand Central Terminal (W and SW). After going back to these places 2-3 times throughout the semester, I realized that there were certain directions (most prominently, Southwest)  in which the sunlight was more consistently shown through the widow. This is where the surface of my map plays an important part; the yellow of the southwest corner represents the most sunlight while the opposite side of the “compass” (the Northeast corner) is gray and dark. Then, I took the pictures of the sunlight streaming through the windows and plotted them on the map’s surface in relation to the connection system: the compass.

Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though the natural light coming in through a window is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light.

Throughout the semester, this project went through a series of revisions; all of which contributed to the final product. In the beginning, I focused solely on collecting data and studying the light that came into these buildings, contemplating direction, time of day, and height of the structures. After this stage of the process was complete, I discussed the ways in which I would plot these points, and what the surface of the map would be. Through trial and error, I established that the surface of the map would attempt to copy the “color” of light; as in, the way in which sunsets (one of the more vivid displays of light) have countless variations of color schemes. I took multiple pictures of sunsets and made many copies of the color gradients that were displayed in the photo.

One of the main complications that presented itself throughout this project was the fact that many of the buildings I studied in New York City are surrounded by other, taller structures. This meant that there were often times when sunlight should have been streaming in through windows in the building, but this warmth was being blocked by the rest of the towering city. Even on the sunny days I went to these buildings, they would often seem a lot darker in comparison to the sun’s actual force that day. (Side Note: While most of the buildings were mostly dark, if one went a few blocks away to the great lawn in Central Park, hoards of people were swarming for a spot in the sun).

A pleasant surprise while working on this project were the reactions (unprompted) of other people in the spaces I was studying. There were times (although infrequent) that people would stop for a second and bask in the warmth of the sunlight indoors, or purposefully stand in the patch of natural light on the ground. Without even realizing it, the few people that displayed this behavior confirmed my idea that this was something beautiful; something that could be mapped and discussed.

The concepts from the class that influenced this project the most were the discussions we had on what could be deemed “invisible” in this society. In addition, the discussion during the Psychogeography project about “site-specific” sculptures was incredibly relevant to my project in the sense that in the buildings I studied, environmental factors were directly related to the various data I collected.