Category Archives: ASINAT

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.  

Video Mapping:Projector Night

IMG_0996 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. IMG_0869 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. fullsizeoutput_3de 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. IMG_1253 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

smile   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. topsy 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. splash   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

1screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-39-29-pm 2screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-41-37-pm screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-42-46-pm.3 4.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-38-27-pm 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.   screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-36-58-pm   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. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-44-11-pm   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. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-43-15-pm I created another sketch from Hirsh’s film where a series of randomly drawn dots fill up the screen: screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-09-am 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. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-5-02-41-pm

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: screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-6-07-44-pm screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-23-44-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-09-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-25-03-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-35-am  screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-25-51-am   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: 1.5654aec6-db55-4b0b-90c2-110cf7d575e6   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. 2.683281e1-a3e0-45fa-babe-4891693803b4    3. 72e95020-17a0-4f59-876e-4b33898b3b88 4.532e15df-d0ef-45a5-9e15-1a9357bf0f77 I incorporated some of the shapes and patterns from my own programs to Hirsh’s scratching style: 5.126b82e7-acfe-4435-9f04-472d975bd14d screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-12-51-46-am   6.a563e799-ddcc-4fc8-a740-2e452e1bc77fscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-00-47-am 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. layeringstretchingcompressingsoniaintime-e1462917656902 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

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 2.44.50 PM

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.

code

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 Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.02.43 PM 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. Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.00.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.00.30 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.00.58 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.01.06 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.02.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.02.22 PM    Sketches: IMG_0440 IMG_0441 IMG_0442

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. IMG_8569 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. IMG_8570 2 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. hyperbolic sphere  hyper sphere naturalescher riemann 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.” illustrate_rimlibrary-of-babel   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
sam sketch

concept sketch 1

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

  IMG_9861
A side view

A side view

IMG_9868 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. noneudsimp2     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.
Sam_attempt

Click to play gif

click to play gif

click to play gif

click to play gif

click to play gif

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. noneudsimp2   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). IMG_9874
IMG_9860

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. IMG_9976 IMG_9975 IMG_9972   IMG_9981   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
1 i killed my father

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

IMG_4282Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 2.24.35 PM   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.    

Conference Post #1: Overwhelmed by Fact

My conference project is centered around the theme of being overwhelmed by facts, more specifically statistics concerning the state of Syria and Iraq during their “war” with the IS. On TV and through other media sources we are reminded of the horrors that occur in places that are safely contained in the frames of our devices. We never expect to experience the horror, much less think about it in any more terms that the “factual evidence” given to us. More attention is paid to the numbers, the data that events produce, rather than understanding or even delving into their constructive nature—it doesn’t so much matter why the IS is on the offensive, but the deaths, or more correctly the number of deaths, is what we use to measure our horror. I want to highlight the many aspects of life in the war effected areas that go unrecorded- just because a country is at war does not mean that war is what constitutes it, I plan to bring to the viewers attention the “invisible” but very real, statistics of the lives lived as a juxtaposition to the overly paid attention to negative “death” aspects of war. It is hard to begin giving agency and legitimacy to peoples or cause if they are only seen as victims (like most of the effected peoples in Syria & Iraq), the other that must be saved. In order to engage this conflict I want to create a structure that will be an interactive (sort of) sculpture/installation intended to overwhelm the senses on the issues of war (paying particular attention to the IS situation in Syria and Iraq) using the most beloved tool of news reporters: statistics. The structure itself will be a large rectangular structure that a person can enter and be able to turn and view all sides. As the person enters the first thing they will encounter is a screen with slowly increasing numbers, this will reflect the real time death toll [one person every 10 minutes, 3 people become refugees every minute]. This will be the first jarring image, I want the viewer to be consumed at first by this changing number, it should disturb, but then encourage the eye elsewhere. Behind the screen will be a chicken-wire fence (attached to the metal structure) with barbed wire on top. Through the holes of the fence will be very gorgeous pictures of the places destroyed and pillaged during the fighting (many Babylonian and Assyrian sites have been damaged, temple of Ur, Mosul) to really create that sense of unease—you are seeing at once both the rising death count and the beauty that there was, diminishing more and more as each number changes. Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.28.29 AM The walls on either side will each also have monitors and will be playing scenes of violence from the wars on loop, volume on. This will be accompanied by stereos that will be within the structure that will provide a constant mélange of sounds and voices (guns, bombs, traditional singing, birds, prayers, political activists speaking, riots, chants, children…), in conjunction with the monitors the auditory as well as visual effect of this collaboration will hopefully overwhelm the viewer. On the walls behind the monitors there will be recorded statistics regarding the two countries and the area on varying topics that do not necessarily pertain to the horrors of war, but still reflect its impact (such as, how many marriages were performed? Or how many houses had lights in the evening, how many olives were cured? How many students graduated?) to contrast the blatant war and violence being shown on the monitors, the ticking death toll flickering in the periphery. Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.28.50 AM  Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 12.29.39 PM With the way we are bombarded with images, statistics and “data” in our everyday lives, we do not pause to think perhaps their true importance or weight- the only difference between 200 people being dead and 1,000 is the amount of breath you take to say it, it doesn’t really affect you any less or more. I want to take the singular statistic and make the viewer engage with it in the multiple- will you feel it more if it’s bigger? We take in world horror so easily because to many, it’s just a number, but what happens if we multiply? One becomes movies and shots and screams, laughter and agony. By bombarding the viewer with all the information s/he is paralyzed, forced to stop and really look, look at war (the screens), and look at everything you’ve missed (the backdrop).
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right and left side panels with background statistics, right side Syria, left side Iraq

close up of two panels

close up of two panels

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blue-print (ish) sketch/construction plans

 

Conference Project Draft #1: Mapping 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 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” leads to the audience (or people within the structure) paying attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding and absorption of the architecture.

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 light 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 and make this beauty available to be viewed consistently rather than in the brief moments of time when natural light is visible indoors.

The vague areas of this piece are the how I will plot each building on the compass. I intend to pick a direction (south-west, as this tends to be the side of the building that gets the most sunlight, without acknowledging in the vast amount of factors that alter this statement such as floor level or proximity to other buildings) and place the most color in the surface in this part of the map, making these places/points deemed more “beautiful”.

By choosing to map this process on photoshop, I will be able to attempt to copy the various color gradients of natural light through the multiple functions on paint. Additionally, the text and the straight lines of the compass will be done entirely on photoshop, making the map neater and allowing the pictures stand out against the soft background of the surface.

Artist Reference: Original maps and cartographers

Conference Project Draft #1: Map of Ordinary Affects

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A sketch I made during my conference of a potential layout with notes around the side

a digital "sketch" of my preliminary idea

a digital “sketch” of my preliminary idea

I began thinking about my conference project inspired by a couple of different psychogeographic and map inspired projects. I found the idea of ‘mental travel’ that Merlin Coverley wrote about in Psychogeography incredibly compelling, and I identified it with a lot of my own experiences of daydreaming about distant (or nearby) places. Additionally, over spring break I found the book Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky in a book store over spring break. The subtitle of this book is “Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will,” and in the introduction Shalansky writes about her experience of mental travel through looking at atlases as a child growing up in East Berlin, a place she could not travel beyond.

Shalansky renders a map of the island in question and on the proceeding page, she describes the island's history and facts about its location and habitability.

IMG_9105 Shalansky renders a map of the island in question and on the proceeding page, she describes the island’s history and facts about its location and habitability.

The night before I found the book, I was aimlessly looking through Google Maps when I located a series of islands I had never heard of before called the Faroe Islands. I was surprised to know that 50,000 people lived there, and I clicked through the photographs of the towns there and tried to imagining what life would be like if I had grown up there. This is where the full idea for my conference project came from.

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When school started up again, I began to explore different parts of America on Google Map street view. I was drawn to the most rural places, because I grew up in a city and have minimal exposure to living in rural America. Also, often when traveling (at least in my family), we tend to visit cities, both familiar cities where family lives like Los Angeles and Denver, as well as cities we have not seen before. In my writing class, we were talking once about the experience of driving through rural, almost empty areas of the country and trying to imagine what kind of person lives in the houses you pass by. As I looked through Google Maps and chose specific locations to zoom in on, I kept this framework of trying to imagine the lives that inhabit these locations in mind. I selected which specific roads/towns to zoom in on based on whether the  street or town names appealed to me.

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My map will depict aspects of American life that do not appear on maps but that mark the memories and locations of experiences in peoples’ memories. For example, a field where a child found a four leaf clover, or a road where a car accident occurred, or a place where a teenager smokes their first cigarette…these types of milestones do not show up on the terrain or maps of America, but they are very much a part of growing up in the specific spaces. The inspiration for the “invisible” aspect of my map comes from anthropologist Kathleen Stewart’s Ordinary Affects, an ethnography of American life that she depicts through non-fictional vignettes of the ‘ordinary’. I hope to map ordinary affects in my conference project. I am still decided how exactly to present this concept. I began with collage of rectangular pictures shown in the second image of this post and intended to make a 40 by 40″ map in that style. On top of the ‘surface’ (the screenshots of different street views), I would write in sharpie the ordinary event that occurred there which would be the sign system.

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I’m not sure what the connection system would be in this map. When I brought my digital sketch to conference, Una and I discussed ways that I could use the map to combat competing discourses that define American life. We thought of using a chart of the stock market crash as a “surface” containing holes which reveal the screenshot images I took and the sign system details that explain the ordinary events that occurred in the spaces.

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The issue now is that the draft I have is rectangular and therefore not 40 by 40, and I can’t use as many images as I hoped to. I also want to make sure it is read as a map.

Stalkers: Post Mortem

image3 image2 Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.35.00 PM For our space, we chose make our sculpture more interactive by focusing on the vibe of the stalker rather than a specific, targeted act of stalking itself. Instead of designing a sculpture to be fixed on observing a particular place (i.e. always looking into one window), we wanted to make our sculpture semi-hidden and to stalk people passing by on Bates Hill. Some sculptures will go unnoticed until you just pass them — only for them to be out of sight when one tries to investigate. Going about this at several points down the hill replicates the creepy, omnipresent feeling of the stalker. Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.37.38 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.38.49 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.40.04 PM We are attempting to use our figure to impose a creeping sense that the site is stalking those who interact with it. Since people most frequently walk down Bates hill, and our repeating, wide-eyed figure slowly becomes more defined as they move that way, it is our intention that people will perceive our figure as appearing with the intention of observing them. Transversely, by recognizing this sudden unexpected presence and observing it, we think that people will themselves become stalkers (i.e. observers with intention). We are using the natural topography of the site to help display our figures in a way that draws the audience’s eye to these installations. As people walk down (or up) the hill, the natural slope of the site (along with the various trees, rocks, and bushes) provide various ways to help partially conceal our figures, forcing the audience to have a more “searching” eye and adding a slight air of mystery. Our piece is  an example of psychogeography in the way that it promotes a new sense of consciousness and awareness about the space. By placing our sculpture, we have transformed our space into one that invites exploration from any pedestrian that interacts with it. To someone who regularly traverses Bates hill, there is something new there, and not only is it curious, it’s watching you. It is our hope that by transforming our space using the notions of psychogeography (specifically the stalker), we have turned people’s awareness into their environment in a way that makes them psychogeographers, or stalkers, themselves. We were definitely inspired by the stalkers we read about. We used the reading to form a general idea about the ethos of the stalker. From the reading, we took the ideas that the stalker is attached to the moment, is personally involved in the observation. They are intense, zoomed in on particular things, and gain their freedom by taking others.  Their journeys are made with intent, and they are somewhat manic and uncontrolled. We think we have put these elements into our sculptures. Our site makes visible these notions of psychogeography. We were influenced by the artists  Picasso and Susan Graham.