A new phase

Posted October 24, 2013 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Research areas, Self-reflection

Tags: , , ,

It’s been great to see the amount of visitors that have browsed on this site and the supporting comments I have received.

For those who have been following this blog for a while I wanted to provide an update. I am now embarking on further research at the University of Kent! It’s going to be a challenge, that is for sure, but the interesting subjects I’ll be covering will hopefully drive me to complete the study with success InshaAllah (God willing).

If anyone is interested to see the areas I look into, the artists I discover, and the artworks I discuss in relation to my research, then please do visit my new blog: www.islamicdigitalarts.com

It’s still early days but hopefully there’ll be some interesting and meaty content coming very soon. Keep your eyes open! And if you come across anything you feel is worth mentioning then please do get in touch via my contact page: www.islamicdigitalarts.com/contact/



MA results!

Posted July 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Self-reflection

I got my results this morning and I’m soo relieved and grateful to God that my efforts in the project were reflected in the marks.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Andy Stiff and Jonathan Kearney the Digital Arts tutors. They were both very inspiring and knowledgeable in the field and this was invaluable especially when receiving feedback throughout the course and through the tutorials.

I’d also like to thank past and present students who provided advice and feedback during mid-point and group reviews. Hope you all manage to continue working and expanding on your practices.

It truly has been an interesting and unpredictable journey but one that I enjoyed very much. I would recommend the course to anyone with an interest in the field of Digital Arts. So remember Camberwell when looking for a course!

I would also like to thank a few key people who have helped me in various ways during the course:

– My family for being unbelievably supportive and putting up with my endless chatter about the project
– Daud Sutton, author of Islamic Design – A Genius for Geometry, a small concise book but immensely useful for learning how to create traditional Islamic patterns
– Victoria Hotchin for proof-checking my write-ups without giving up in boredom
– Lindsey Auty for being the best personal memo pad
– Richard Henry for his tips on extending my pursuit of Islamic pattern-making (Issam Said’s book is ready and waiting)
– Sahand Hesamiyan for his vital advice on using metal
– Susan Mortimer for helping make the lovely books that have been admired by all
– My crazy uni friends (you know who you are) , you’re mad but at the end of the day you’re the best
– and finally all the artists and practitioners who have contributed to my research and provided me with the material to take it all forward for a possible PhD

I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, my memory is truly not the best so it’s nothing personal if I have.

So what of this blog now? I will be continuing with my research and practice but for the new phase I may start a new blog. I will add a post with details of this once the ball gets rolling with that. For now, a well-earned break perhaps.

Thank you for being such attentive readers (at the point of writing this post I had received 26,043 visitors to the blog since August 2008) and I hope the content of this blog will be useful to anyone looking into the areas of Digital or Islamic/geometric art or anything related to what was covered on this blog.

Thank you all again, Ciao 🙂

MADA 2010 – came and went (well)

Posted July 18, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff

Tags: , ,

MA Digital Arts show 2010 – Camberwell College of Arts

The private view was on Tuesday 13th July. People actually turned up on time which was a surprise to me, but I guess not everyone is like me then in turning up just a bit late.

It was a really good turn-out and I saw many visitors genuinely exploring the exhibition space and looking closely at the installations. I was pleased to see that the interactivity in my work was a success and many people seemed to be mystified by how the projection was activated with the movement. It was cool explaining to those who asked about the technical aspects such as the use of Processing, the infra-red camera and the projector all in one and then to hear their positive feedback. This direct form of feedback was invaluable, as even though I would stop and speak to various guests and visitors I was able to watch others playing with the polyhedron models and figure out how to manipulate the projection.

I really enjoyed the evening and really hope everyone else did too.

Here are some photos of the Reflect installation from when it was a bit quieter later in the week.

Reflect - This is the sculpture from the installation

Reflect - by Sara Choudhrey. This is the aluminium sculpture from the interactive installation

The look of the metal would change in different lighting and depending on the changes in the projection the Islamic pattern would be higlighted in different ways. The blue in the following images was slightly unexpected but reminds me of the deep blue sea/ocean:

Reflect - sculpture with change in lighting

Reflect - sculpture with change in lighting

And here’s another of my favourites – a closeup looking into the space created by the curve in the sculpture:

Reflect - closeup of sculpture with light effects in bg

Reflect - closeup of sculpture with light effects in bg

I am pleased with the outcome of the practical work and really hope I get the opportunity to exhibit this piece again. I have a few things I’d like to change in the way it is exhibited too, top of the list is changes to the processing to make coloured projections. And ideally in a more isolated dark space where there is no light spill/interference.

I’ve even had a few ideas which will allow me to return to some of my previous experiments with reflecting warped patterns created by reflecting light onto walls. Can’t wait to get started on those 🙂

Update – nearing the end

Posted July 12, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Final show stuff, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

Tags: , , , ,

So the MA degree (end of yr) show opens this week, which houses all the pathways including ourselves – Digital Arts. Our work was assessed last week and the external examiner was in today asking us about our experience of the course.

Now its all about those final tweaks for the private view tomorrow and the general opening until Saturday. We’ve all signed up for shifts of invigilating and I’ve used up some more of my holidays from work for this. And it leaves me with very little annual leave left for the rest of the yr. That’s a big shame but it was necessary. And then we have our results coming out on the 20th! It’s quite soon compared to how long students usually have to wait for their undergrad results or for A-levels or GCSE results. But even then I would rather know now than in a week and half’s time.

I’m also trying to mentally prepare myself for all sorts of outcomes. For example I am contemplating where my threshold for satisfaction in achievement is so that I can determine what marks I would need to achieve in order to be happy with my grade. But at the same time I don’t want to think about it at all in case I don’t get it and then feel really sad. Hmm but then again is it the marks that I should be happy about or the body of work? The work was definitely an achievement regardless of any one else’s opinion. I went for something quite ambitious and now that I think about it, I didn’t have to go all out but I did and I’m hoping that was perceived as a very strong point rather than a foolish or over-ambitious one. Only time will tell!!

On the up-side, I managed to get three prints ready in time for the show opening too. These were of photos taken in Unit2 and highlight the significance of my newly developed practice. I think they are worth some focus in their own right and have received a lot of positive feedback. Having taken that on board and with there being some spare wall space in the lighter room of the show I thought, why not?

Mounted A2 prints of photographs taken during project development

From left to right: Electric, Wave and Citylight all photographs taken during Unit2 development

The one on the far left is actually one I took last week – you might recognise it being similar to that in the previous post. I’m now very strongly contemplating ways in which to customise my Processing and OpenCV code in order to achieve coloured feed to project in order to create results similar to the images above. I think I might spend a couple of months after the MA just trying to improve the manipulation of lighting and adding in the element of colour. Simply by projecting my desktop screen  has created interesting reflections and shadows so it’s worth looking into for even better results.

Well I’d better be off – tomorrow is an early start. I’m now aiming to just look forward to the Private view where good friends and practitioners who I’ve come to know through the project will make for good company.

Installation pt2 and last minute bits and pieces

Posted July 5, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Unit2

So today was quite an achievement. There were things that needed sorting, small problems that couldn’t be solved properly in full in time for tomorrow’s assessment of the final piece but I managed to come up with temporary solutions to deal with them instead.

For example – the curve of the mirror card was kind of flopping on each side. I quickly cut a few pieces of wood and screwed them together in a t-shape so that I could place them under the curve and therefore support it where needed. I think I need to do a better job of securing it to the wall for the exhibition show, probably by screwing them if I can. But for now I’ve used gaffa tape to stick them in place. I ended up using 3 supports and still want one more:

Hidden support under the curve

Hidden support under the curve

I spent some time yesterday calling up many art supply stores trying to get hold of some clear acrylic or perspex but the biggest sheet I found was an A3 one at the London Graphics Centre in Covent Garden. It’s quite a good size store with loads to buy. I love these kinds of shops. Anyway, knowing the perspex was too small I bought it anyway to use as a temporary cover over the camera and if time permitted to make it so that it could hold some of my plastic shapes to encourage interaction.

I haven’t mentioned the shapes in a long time as I didn’t think I would have enough time to actually include them within the final piece. And I still don’t know if I will be able to as I only just managed to spray paint the shapes I bought for this purpose. They were basically blank dice in polyhedron forms but in yellow plastic. They were the only plain shapes of this type I could find and when they arrived they looked quite large compared to the image I’d seen online.

Blank dice in yellow plastic - polyhedron shapes

Blank dice in yellow plastic - polyhedron shapes

Anyway, so I bought some silver chrome spray paint and now they look like this:

Silver chrome sprayed on yellow dice

Silver chrome sprayed on yellow dice

They look really nice and I’m hoping they will dry in time but even then I have a feeling the paint will come off as painting plastic is never easy and I did not have time to think about looking for or applying a suitable primer.

The alternative option is to use some of the off-cuts from either the mirror card I have cut recently or from the MDF that was laser cut. Both has nice shapes which could be used but both are also flat and would be harder to hold and move around on the perspex surface.

Anyway, back to the perspex. So I bought the A3 piece as it was the right thickness and not too small so wouldn’t look completely ridiculous. I also wanted as close to the full set-up for the assessment so decided to get it and bring it in and if possible squeeze in adjustments to it at the workshop.

So when I got the chance (between sanding and adding another coat of paint to my never-ending plinth-making) I cut out small cube like pieces of wood, sanded them down so that they wouldn’t have splinters hanging off the edges and then marked the center on each.

I then drilled holes into the corners of the perspex and screwed the cubes in under the perspex. I also added some random screw cap covers which I had bought to show someone in order to order silver versions to use on my metal. I was very proud at my little handiwork – with no assistance from any technicians whatsoever!

Small cube feet added to perspex

Small cube feet added to perspex

I waited till the end of the day to take my plinth up. This was to allow the most recent coat of paint and polyfil to dry. The edges of the plinth still looked bare as they needed a few more layers before the paint would actually seal and stick rather than seep in.

However, I decided that I could bring it up for the assessment as planned and then take it back down later in the week to get it ready for the private view and show.

This was the moment I’ve been waiting for since aaaages. And have been anticipating more so recently with all th madness and efforts made to this end. I lugged my plinth out of the lift and bought it to its rightful space.

I then started preparing my area a bit more to ensure it was clean, tidy and that the wires would be easily stored. I taped down the cable for the extension so that it would be hidden under my plinth and neatly stuck to the floor in straight lines rather than in a mess.

Neat and safer cables

Neat and safer cables

Top of the plinth with perspex covering

Top of the plinth with perspex covering. This is a temporary cover which I'm hoping will be replaced by a bigger one with a nicer footing

Hardware within the plinth

Hardware within the plinth, all equipment attached and ready for testing

And then there was the metal. I finally got round to removing the film and to my horror there was a lot of what looked like saw dust staining and residue underneath. It needed a good wipe down but whatever I tried kept getting shredded by the sharp edges. I resorted to carefully using a dust cloth with water and then drywiping it with my hand after. I think I got most of the muck off but it took me a long time and it was getting very late.

Removing the protective film

Removing the protective film - which clearly do as much protecting as it should have

I also added a few more screws to the sides of the edge curves with the help of kind Raquel. These were placed along-side the metal just close enough to keep the edges firmly straight and against the mirror card to allow for a better mirroring of the edge of the pattern.

Mirror effect achieved

Mirror effect achieved

And then just as we turned the lights off and turned the projector on we saw this, prior to my turning on my MacBook:

Accidental blue projection looked quite stunning

Accidental blue projection looked quite stunning

The downside to being in the space we’ve been allotted is that a lot of the pieces that need full darkness can’t have it. I have Ina projecting on the wall behind but on the side of me and as her projection is mostly white it lights up half my work prior to any interaction via the camera.

It makes the metal look quite different. And unfortunately a lot of the light effects that would be thrown onto the nearby walls and ceiling will become invisible as they would only work as illuminations in the dark.

Anyway so here is a weird angle image of the sculpture and the plinth in the room to illustrate the final set-up I’ve done for my final piece:

Final set-up, plinth and metal

Final set-up, plinth and metal

Installing the aluminium

Posted July 3, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Unit2

College was open today. I got my dad and cousin to help take the aluminium in. We drove it in the big family car and it just about fit which was a relief.

Waterjet cut aluminium in the back of the car

Waterjet cut aluminium in the back of the car

Looking in to one of the curves whilst in the car

Looking in to one of the curves whilst in the car

I had to leave the fitting of the mirror card (on which the metal would be mounted) till this point as I decided not to use the backing plain metal to mount on and to instead screw both the cut metal and the mirror card straight into the wall. This also meant I wouldn’t need the bolts (and wouldn’t have been able to use them as the board for the wall was already up). But screwing it all in would be a lot easier.

However, installing it actually took longer than I thought it would. I had to measure everything over and ensure the metal was in the middle, both vertically and horizontally. But it kinda looks odd to me with the wall being so much bigger than the metal now that it has shrunk due to the curves I added.

Got the metal screwed into the wall - protective film  still on the aluminium, 'just in case'

Got the metal screwed into the wall - protective film still on the aluminium, 'just in case'

The curve of the mirror card behind the metal isn’t right though – it kinda flopped. So I need to actually place something like maybe a bent ruler or some kind of curved object – perhaps just taped down with strong gaffa/duct tape to give the card something to rest against and to maintain its correct curve. Will have to remember to deal with this on Monday morning!

I also used some aluminium car repairs tape for the sides. It’s usually used for exhaust pipes but looks and works like foil except it is adhesive. I used this to stick the edges of the mirror card down so that it would be flat against the wall from either end.

After my two personal assistants had departed I started measuring the bottom area of the wall which had a huge gap as the college had no more wooden boards to cover it up with. I would have left it as a space for light to spill into but another student is exhibiting behind that wall and has therefore covered her side of it to keep it dark. It looked a bit funny from my side so I used my leftover mirror card to cover this. Thank God I had just enough left in the roll. It took me a while to cut it to the correct size using a giant wood block as my ruler and then Ina and her friend Luke very kindly helped me nail it in and ensure it was as flat as it could be.

Metal mounted on top half and mirror card covering bottom half - very space age looking

Metal mounted on top half and mirror card covering bottom half - very space age looking

So now my whole wall looks like its been covered in huge sheets of tin foil lol

I’m really hoping it doesn’t look tacky. At least not once the show is up and running. That’s the added advantage of being in a dark space I suppose.

Not in the mood

Posted July 3, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Self-reflection

I am exhausted. Things keep coming up that I wasn’t expecting. And yet I know that if I had managed to organise my time differently I might have known about those things before hand. Even though I’ve used up almost all my annual leave from work to dedicate myself to getting it all done to a decent level and within time, I still feel it hasn’t been as smooth a process as I wanted or had planned for. It’s quite odd being in this situation as usually I have things completed way in advance. I guess with practical work of this kind you just don’t know what may come up until you try it.

For example the MAC mini I was supposed to be using was borrowed from college. However, it’s one of the older models which doesn’t have an intel chip and therefore my files won’t work because the OpenCV library cannot be installed on it.

Therefore my plinth becomes useless unless I use my personal MacBook pro instead. I feel really annoyed because as I mentioned above, it’s something I could have been aware of before and then made a plinth much bigger in order to house a G5 instead. I could still use the G5 but it would have to sit on the outside of the plinth. The amount of work that went into making the plinth (and it doesn’t look like any ordinary plinth believe me) would be soo sad to put to waste like that, although it would still house the camera and projector.

Now that my ideal set-up has been disrupted all my previous options and decisions have been thrown up in the air. I’ve been reminded of my initial idea to have the camera and projector overhead.The wiring would have been an issue as well as the need to install a specific shelf/tray for the projector. Apparently the ceiling in the space is concrete so we can’t really drill into it anyway.

But as I’ve been discussing with my family who have been closely observing my practical work – TIME AND MONEY are two factors that always come back to cause you problems. no matter what you are trying to achieve. If you have neither then you’re basically limited. In this case the time was the bigger problem and the money an additional one.

An example of where more money for the work would have been handy is for the metal I am using. I realised it might have been better to leave an uncut border to my piece. It might have been a better finish. But then again I wouldn’t know unless I tried it. As it stands I bought some huge clippers for cutting sheet metal. They are really heavy but do the job very well and were handy to cut off the sharp small ends where the pattern ends abruptly along the edges of the aluminium sheet. This gives it a tidy finish as well as a safer edging.

Another aspect of the metal not being quite right is the reflectivity. It does have a nice finish, just not a mirror finish. I’ve looked into polishing techniques and let’s just say it wasn’t feasible to do it myself or to pay someone else to because of the cost of the service and collection and delivery.

As an alternative solution I have backed the cut aluminium with a slight gap against a large sheet of mirror card. This means that at least the back of the cut sheet will be reflected and give a slight raised 3D graphic imagery effect. This makes me feel better about the installation.

I have to say though everyday seems to be a bit of a rollercoaster. I go from being really motivated, determined, positive, and task oriented and then skydive to frustration, fatigue, sometimes even anger, worry and then memory loss. The last one can be a bit funny sometimes but a bit of a risk at the moment. My memory is in full capacity mode and I’m not sure how long it will last. I’m counting down the days till my anxiety will go though.

So yeh time would have helped – but then even if I could extend the project length I might become super sick of my work. Sometimes if you work on something for too long you don’t know where to draw the line and you just keep going at it until it completely changes or you have ruined it. So maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve run out of time at this stage of the work. Hmm, I might just be feeling like this because of the smaller issues the crop up. I’m going to reflect on this again next week after the assessment date has passed. I might feel differently about it all once that bridge has been crossed.

DIY Day four

Posted July 2, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Self-reflection, Uncategorized, Unit2

Tags: , , , , ,

The days I’ve been in this week have actually merged into one huge chunk of time. But I can now report on the further developments in making my plinth.

If I could I would actually exhibit my plinth as a piece in its own right. It’s actually turned into something quite unique and nice to look at. I’m already contemplating its locality post show.

So let’s see, in my last post concerning this I had finished off all the pieces of the panels. I had started painting them too as I wanted to save time later and just assemble it when I next came in to the workshop.

We had also left a laser cutting of pattern into 3mm MDF (I still had spares from before) after I had left the previous day as we realised the lack of border on the other one I was going to use would make it harder to attach. I made sure the 10-point stars were in the middle of the cutting and Karel (3DResource manager) used his AutoCAD skills to size it exactly to what we needed in order to fit it into the previously routed front panel. This looked great and fit almost perfectly. There were only a few gaps which could easily be polyfilled later down the production timeline.

So the next day I took some extra MDF in to make the top and also the spindles I bought to cut up and stick under the top layer to raise it a bit higher and to leave a further gap for ventilation.

I told Karel my idea for construction, he slightly adjusted it and we went back to what I was originally thinking of: instead of just screwing the panels together edge to edge I would use the spindles as the main frame for the whole structure and attach the panels to this.

We, then, however, needed to cut some more wood as I had only taken in a couple of my spindles when I actually needed 4. This wasn’t hard and I started screwing the prepared panels to these. I ensured my measurements were accurate and double checked them many times along the way to make sure one wasn’t shorter than the rest and to make sure it didn’t wobble at the end.

Attaching frame (which also forms the legs) to the side panel

Attaching frame (which also forms the legs) to the side panel

legs/frame attached to side panel (prior to error checking change)

legs/frame attached to side panel (prior to error checking change)

My arms aren’t the strongest and as I was drilling into 18mm MDF and then through to the chunky wood frame I slightly struggled to hold the drill down. But I thought it was a job well done and made sure the screws were sunk into the MDF rather than sticking out.

However,  there was an abrupt change of plan when we realised we had not made it correct in order to leave the walls on the outer parts of the whole plinth, and allow for the door to be attached using hinges. This was partly also due to needing to place a shelf in for the projector and keeping the width to a suitable amount to fit it so the lens would come to the middle. So the consequence was me having to undo half a day’s worth of work.

The panels fit together nicely on top of the legs/frame which were inset by the thickness of the side panels (18mm).

The panels fit together nicely on top of the legs/frame which were inset by the thickness of the side panels (18mm).

However, Karel very kindly decided to dedicate himself to helping me get the majority of the construction done that day. I drilled and screwed what I could. glued and nailed what I could and handed over tools and parts when I couldn’t do the more difficult and muscle needing tasks such as bending some chunky metal to make me a hook for hanging a padlock on.

Part of frame cut on one side to make room for projector, and side hole aligned with position of projector vent

Part of frame cut on one side to make room for projector, and side hole aligned with position of projector vent

Second shelf cut with square in corner to fit with frame and hole at back corner for cables to pass through

Second shelf cut with square in corner to fit with frame and hole at back corner for cables to pass through

The day was full of huge ups and downs. But the end result of my plinth was worth it and I am super grateful that we have a place like the 3D Resource center to work in/from.

Top added, hinges added, holes for cables and two extra support beams aligned with the top and bottom of the door

Top added, hinges added, holes for cables and two extra support beams aligned with the top and bottom of the door

Filling holes and gaps with Polyfiller. It's better to have it bumpy than sunken so that when it is sanded down it can be flattened to the same line of the surface

Filling holes and gaps with Polyfil. It's better to have it bumpy than sunken so that when it is sanded down it can be flattened to the same line of the surface

Using a metal pole bent backwards and then bending again from the back to allow for attaching a padlock

Using a metal pole bent backwards and then bending again from the back to allow for attaching a padlock

To add the finishing touches I polyfilled all the gaps and then the next day, after they had been sanded down I prepared the hole on the top for the camera to come through. I almost forgot about this and it should have been done before the top had been attached. But Karel was in super sonic  mode at the time of cutting it down and drilling it on that I dared not protest. Anyway, I drilled a big hole in the middle where I’d marked out the shape of the camera. I was going to arrange it so that the main bulk of it – i.e the lens and infra-red LEDs would be raised above the flat level of the top of the plinth. This would hopefully allow for the lighting recognition to still work in the dark and not be limited by the cut off of the area around the camera formed by the hole itself.

Cut hole needing to be chiseled

Cut hole needing to be chiseled

I then jig-sawed the rest of the rectangular shape out of the top piece and then filed it away for a while. I then slanted the angle of the file so that the camera could slot in easily from the bottom but stay within a snug fit at the top of the hole. I made this a slower process so that I could continuously test the fit and file away where necessary until it was right. I think I did a pretty decent job at getting it to fit right. This meant I wouldn’t need to use duct tape to secure the camera in place either.

Slotting camera in place for a snug fit

Slotting camera in place for a snug fit

Next I started the main painting of the whole plinth. I used a gloss based paint – the one coat one I bought from B&Q. It gave a nice smooth finish once dried but I could tell it was better to do the 2 coats anyway.

The edges of the MDF were really hard to paint as the paint kept seeping through rather than staying on th e surface of the edges. If I have time I am going to try to sand and paint a few layers on the edges. If I can’t do this before assessment then I’ll definitely do so for the exhibition.

And this is it – the finished plinth!

I really like it and so does everyone who has seen it so far. I think one person even thought I was doing another pathway of the course (like designer-maker) when they saw me working on it in the workshop. But I said to him that was the cool thing about the course, you start it off with your one practice in mind but you get to the end and you have the opportunity to include many other practices, skills and techniques for the final stages.

I’m very proud of my plinth, it’s why I said earlier – it’s no ordinary plinth. And as a result I feel very grateful towards the 3DResource team in helping me get it to look the way I wanted and even better than what i wanted. It was worth all the downs encountered.


Special edition catalogues – in collaboration with Susan Mortimer

Posted June 29, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, experimentation, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Some weeks ago I randomly got into conversation with fellow final yr (online) student Susan Mortimer who, as mentioned in a previous post, puts together and hand makes the Mail Art One zine. Susan also makes one-off special edition books/catalogues showcasing work by solo artists. So I suggested that it would be really cool if we one day used my mirror card cut-outs as covers for special edition books featuring some of my work from the MA.

And lovely and kind as Susan is, she said why not?, let’s do it now (instead of some time in the future which is what I was thinking). Obviously I was going to jump at the chance and thought wow if she’s willing to try it then I am soo game and therefore I set about ordering specific double-sided mirror card for this mini project.

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Sara Choudhrey and Susan Mortimer

Black and white versions of special edition books - collaboration: Hand-cut covers by Sara Choudhrey and printing and binding by Susan Mortimer

The books are a mini showcase of some of the images from my experimentation through the MA project so far. I chose 10 images which I think some of the key visual elements of my work and added a few coloured samples to give some variation to the black and white theme. I think they work well together in the book and I asked Susan to arrange an order that she thought would suit them best (it’s hard to see your work objectively when you’ve been concentrating on it for so long). She did a great job.

Browsing through the book

Browsing through the book

I hand-cut a few of the sheets using pat7 (the pattern used for all aspects of the final piece) and arranged it so that the 10-point star would be in the middle of the front and the back.

White version with full front and back cutting

White version with full front and back cutting

Black version with half cut cover

Black version with half-cut cover

I slightly altered the symmetry towards the spine too to make it fit appropriately. These sheets were then sent to Susan so she could test the binding and this morning I had the pleasure of receiving the proofs to look at.

Black and white versions of the books

Black and white versions of the books

I actually can’t decide which one I like best. We originally had the black one all black (even the middle section with the star in black too), but then this evening I thought I’d see how it looked with that cut out too and I quite liked it. And this is something I can do once Susan has finished the printing and binding on her side.

Susan has posted about her side of the process here: http://susanmort.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/u2-collaboration-with-sara/

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

Images of the books taken by Susan - capturing the shadows and reflections produced by the double-sided mirror card cut-out

We’ve just got a few more tweaks to do and then I’ll have around 20 of these special editions. I’m even contemplating having a couple on a plinth in the light room of the MADA (MA Digital Arts) exhibition space, but I’m going to leave this as an option if time permits rather than a must. Also, need to ask the others if there is space for it …

I now just need to get on with cutting the rest of the 20 covers! I may need a two-week long hand massage once I’m done.

Afternoon of real DIY

Posted June 29, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Unit2

Tags: , , , ,

So when I did finally get back to the 3Dresource guys, with intervals of a bit of waiting I was shown how to use the drilling machine with a large circular saw type bit. This was roughly the right size for the circles I needed to cut out of my MDF for extra ventilation towards the top of both the side panels of the plinth. As heat rises there should be some release via these holes.

Karel, the manager of the department, gave me a few safety tips and showed me where to clamp the MDF and supporting wood down and how to clean the saw bit every now and again so that it wouldn’t get caught and burn instead of continue cutting through.

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

The drilling machine used for cutting the circles

Cutting circles out of MDF

Close-up of cutting circles out of MDF

Although I was slightly nervous – having not handled any of this kind of machinery since secondary school (about 9 yrs ago now!) – I soon got the hang of it and finished cutting the circles in very good time.

Next we needed to tackle the harder job of routing. I had to wait around a bit at this point as all the technicians were busy and Karel had to go to a meeting so I was told it would have to wait till Wednesday afternoon. I’m not the type to ever panic ( gets you nowhere) but inside I’m thinking, oh man, this is never gonna get finished and what about my deadlines? Because seriously I need to have everything, and I mean EVERYTHING done by this weekend!

I decided to just start painting the panels that were already cut. No point in moping around. I’d made all the effort to get my MDF to uni and had to make do with what I could in terms of productivity.

Preparing to paint the MDF

Preparing to paint the MDF

About an hour later, Gillian, kind and super helpful Gillian, a technician who had been working in the upstairs gallery space came down and said we could have a go at doing the routing.

The routing needs to be done so that there is a recess for the other pattern-cut MDF to sit. This would form part of the front panel of the plinth.  In order to cut this in the correct rectangular window we had to cut out the middle section – not as easy as I thought it would be.

Firstly, we drilled holes into the corners of the rectangle I had marked out and then used the jigsaw to go along very close to the edges so that routing would be easier to do later.

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

The jigsaw we used to cut the following panel out

Gillian showed me how to use the Jigsaw and I got to do a lot of the cutting using it. It was hard work to hold it down and keep it going straight and so my arm started getting tired but I finished it and manged to curve the corners too. I also had to make sure my hands weren’t too close to the saw bit. It was a scary start but fun to get stuck into some proper DIY 🙂

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

The router and the jigsaw cut MDF

Gillian neatened up the edges using the router – which will also be used to create the recess. It’s a really good tool for making sure all edges are straight.

So hopefully I’ll back at in the workshop to finish this off. I’m hoping I can get it done by the end of Wednesday as I feel really anxious that it’s really close to the assessment deadline of early next week. I need to have everything installed by Saturday latest so that I can concentrate on the Unit2 assessment page which needs to be up by  July 5th.

I also haven’t had the chance to help the others with setting up the general exhibition space yet and then there’s health and safety risk assessment forms to be completed as well as the instruction sheet for the exhibition period. I find that I prefer not to talk about what needs to be done, I’d rather just get on with it and not make myself stressed by just thinking about it.

I’m looking forward to the days after the assessment when I’ll be able to relax and focus on just the show itself.

Killing an hour

Posted June 28, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Uncategorized

So I’m at uni, just finished eating my sandwich really slowly so that I can kill an hour before getting back to the 3D resources. This morning, regardless of feeling really unwell, I got up and visited the joinery store near home where, over the phone, I was told they’d be able to cut the smaller pieces out of my mdf, as well as the one large piece for the front panel. I get there and they say they cant do it, but told me to try another place down the road. So I did and same story, need a cnc router, (pronounced raowter) because normal tools/machines can’t do anything but straight lines. Sooo then I drove all the MDF, paint, bits and pieces to uni. Now I’ve never driven to uni before. It’s South London so I knew the general direction was over the Thames and then straightish but decided to use my sat nav to be on the safe side. I don’t know wtc happened to the satnav but it took me the longest, most despicable route ever. With it being as hot as it is I was running out of drinking water and dehydrating and feeling super frustrated. I had taken the day off from work specifically so that I could get loads done. The journey that was supposed to have taken max.45 mins took double the time. Stuck in traffic in this heat is just not the best place to be.

Anyway, so I managed to get here in on piece, dropped all my MDF off at the 3Dresource which is now currently closed for lunch so I’m using this time to recuperate and muster up my energy for a productive afternoon at least.

DIY and needing bolts.

Posted June 26, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

So I’ve decided to keep my metal ‘sculpture’ really simple. This is for several reasons, the main being that I cannot afford to ruin the cutting by trying to experiment with other shapes at this stage. It cost way too much to get a new one.

So its going to be the pattern cut sheet in a nice big curve coming outwards towards the user, attached to the blank sheet behind which also curves with the sheet but has a bit of a gap in between which is where I’m hoping the best of the light effects will work.This is in keeping with the last few prototypes that I’ve done. At the moment I have the right curve achieved with the aid of a huge plant pot (lol I know it’s random but it worked a treat).

Shaping metal sheet

Shaping the metal sheet with a huge plant pot

I’m not going to remove the protective film until right at the end of everything though, so that there’s less chance of it being scratched.

Now to get the curve right and to come out the way I want – like half a cylinder protruding from the pattern sheet, I need to secure and bolt down the points at which the curve goes from flat to curved. This is key to retaining the shape. But finding the right bolts has been a real pain. There are loads of huge bulky, cut head ones that are really long, however, what I really need is something nice and short, with a smooth head. The metal is very thin (0.7mm) so even times two it won’t need a huge bulky bolt.

I need something a bit like this:

Ludwig coach bolt from Drumshack site: http://www.drumshack.co.uk/uploads/images_products/989.jpg

Also, as the metal is not as shiny as I wanted (it’s not mirror shine) I am contemplating using a sheet of mirror card as the back panel. I still have enough of the huge roll I bought a few months ago. It’s lovely stuff and has exactly the right reflectivity (as has been proved by my proto-typing). But I will need to stick it to something more solid in order to prevent it from flopping around. So I might use the blank sheet metal for this purpose. A bit of a waste of its original purpose but now that I have it I might as well use it. It still has the protective film on one side. So if i spray some adhesive on that side, stick straight onto the film then it should be ok.

The other alternative is to cover the mounting wall with the mirror card and then screw the metal directly into the wall over that area. But this will mean a risk in getting the mirror card to curve correctly in proportion to the pattern sheet.

I think I might need to wait until I get the sheets into the space before making the final decision on this. But the thought of it not being done is making me feel really uncomfortable. I hate not having things done.

It’s unbelievable the number of things you have to think about in installing for a space that isn’t your own to do with what you will. We’ll need to make sure all the walls are prepared, and then put them back to the same condition they were originally. This is fair enough. So I need to make sure I don’t drill too many holes. Or remember to polyfil them afterwards if I do.

There’s also my plinth to finish. I got the MDF from B&Q in the end as every time I got back from work the shop down the end of the road was already closed. However, B&Q had quite a good deal on with the MDF, about 2440mm x 1500mm for £16. I was going to get the 12mm (thickness) as that had been recommended by the 3D resource technicians. But the ones in the store were quite damaged so I went for the 18mm instead. It is heavier but I think the added weight will be to my advantage in making the plinth more stable and harder to knock over or even lift and run off with (partial fear of security there).

So with my handy diagram and calculations in hand I asked the guy at B&Q to cut up the sheet to the panel sizes I needed.They have this awesome machine that cuts the huge sheet down when you put in the exact numbers. Imagine how much time is saved with the use of technology everyday? It’s brilliant.

Cutting MDF at B&Q

Cutting MDF at B&Q

I’ve chosen to make the plinth 40cm x 45cm. So not quite a square but wider at the front and back. I’ve also measured out where I’d like the MDF pattern cut panel to go on the front. I’m aiming to have the big 10-point star right in the middle. But this will also depend on where the projector will go inside the plinth. I need it’s exact measurements to place the shelf inside in the right place. I would never have imagined how technical a plinth could get.

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

The pieces that will eventually be my plinth

So I was planning to paint my panels with this paint I bought from B&Q too (becoming a regular there) which says you only need to use one coat, where usually you would have to apply a primer coat before the final paint.

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

One coat paint to use on Plinth - gloss based so hoping for a nice finish

But I realised I should actually cut the wood parts out before I paint them. So once again I need to wait for Monday which is when I can go to a local joinery store who can do some routing and cutting for me. This will save me having to drive the plinth back and forth from uni which would take an hour anyway.

I spent some time this morning marking out exactly where it would need to be cut. This includes more holes for ventilation towards the top of each of the side panels, and cutting down the shelf pieces which originally were going to fill the whole of the inside space but now I want to leave room along the back (closer to the back door panel) for the wires to have enough room.

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Markings for cutting holes from MDF

Area to be routed from front panel

Area to be routed from front panel

The above image shows part of the rectangle that I’m planning to cut away from the front panel of the plinth to place the lasercut pattern MDF from last week.

So now it’s a matter of waiting till Monday morning which is when I’ll get the final cutting done, paint the MDF which according to the paint pot should be dry within a maximum of 2 hrs and then, get it all put together by driving all parts to uni and begging for help from the technicians.

Home-made burgers and access to metal currently denied

Posted June 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Self-reflection, Unit2

So I’ve been on my laptop for what feels like days. Just finished the essay. I don’t feel that happy about it. It was rushed (really bad time to have a deadline) and probably could have been written better. But the deadline is tomorrow and I have no desires to drain myself of all life before completing my MA. So it’ll just have to do.

What I really want to be doing right now is finishing my sculpture. I’m way behind schedule. It’s bugging me. And yet I cannot do anything because right now the metal is hidden behind the sofa in the living room and as it is the biggest room in the house I need to sculpt it in there. But I also need to wait for the visitors currently sitting in there to depart before I can do that. This can be classified as an external factor. Some things in life are completely out of your hands and you can’t do anything but be patient.

I even missed a family BBQ today because of the essay writing. But luckily they bought some food back for me so I don’t feel as depressed as I did a few hours ago.

From pen to paper to computer to metal

Posted June 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , ,

I thought I’d do this post just for fun. It’s kind of cool to see all the stages of getting a pattern from the first stage to the last – in other words it’s proof of why it took so long:

Creating the pattern:

Creating pat7 from scratch

Creating pat7 from scratch

Using the pattern to cut mirror card:

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Pat7 cut into mirror card

Using pattern to create digital version in Adobe Photoshop:

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Screenshot of building up the pattern in Photoshop

Importing paths into illustrator and exporting as correct files for CAD machines:

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Exporting as DXF from Illustrator

Black and green image of imported file from waterjet cutting company:

Single tile of pattern

Single tile of pattern

Full tiled pattern

Full tiled pattern

Final cutting:

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

Waterjet cut pattern in aluminium

I’ll add one last image to this when the final stage of sculpting has been completed.

Ohmydays it’s here!!

Posted June 19, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

The aluminium cutting that is.

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood - looks good right?

Metal cut-out sandwiched between cut wood

Detail of cut metal

Detail of cut metal - unfortunately there's a slight brushed effect that I did not ask for 😦

It’s massive – which is brilliant. It was attached to a pallet and took me a while to figure out a way to get it open without resorting to using heavy machinery.

And the best thing about it is that they used two wooden pieces to stabilise the metal while it was being cut so the very helpful and kind guy (who didn’t scam me btw, Thank God!) said he’d send them with the metal as ‘they could be useful’ for my project. Hell yeh! They look like Moroccan screens, totally love them 🙂

All three pieces

Metal cut out sandwiched between cut wood

I want to do something with wooden pieces and the options are many but time is just too short, so I’ll have to save it for something post MA. My sisters have been telling me to make screens, doors, cabinets…the list goes on.

I like the effect of displacing one against the other

I like the effect of displacing one against the other. The aluminium is coverd by a protective film at the moment

So now I’m back to my major issue of not having a studio to work in 😦 I need to start looking for one I think. I’ve heard there are a few schemes around London that you have to apply for but by the time I get round to doing that I will probably miss the deadlines. The next few weeks are just going to be too busy. I feel guilty even posting on the blog at the moment with all the other stuff to take care of. Right now the essay is not even typed up  (I still enjoy writing notes in the traditional age-old, pen to paper format).

So yeh, better get back to that. I’m not sure if I will post images of the aluminium without the covering or wait till I’ve sculpted it. It might ruin the surprise.

Symposium video feedback

Posted June 17, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Assessments/reviews, Questions for research, Unit2

I’m falling behind with some of my posts – the list of drafts is getting longer. Therefore I need to start compromising on my spell and grammar checks.

Anyway so I didn’t get many comments on the video (https://qunud.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/symposium-presentation/), but admittedly it is bad timing as everyone is very busy completing their projects. I did however get some from both Rabhia and Susan (final yr online students). Oh and now Claire too (first yr part-timer).

Rabhia’s feedback was:

It’s wonderful to actually find out what the work is about, I must confess, even though I have looked at your website, the one with the images, I was a little confused with the intention of the work.

But the presentation does make your thought process clearer.

I do have a couple of questions however

1. Being of “diverse background” myself , being born and raised in sunny England.

I wonder-

Do you feel you should define your practice in terms of a connection with religion? , I.e. as a Islamic artist after why not say your just an artist?

2.It could be argued that You, Me and Hassen are all Islamic artists, but then the test would be would we chose to define ourselves as such?

And by doing so are we ineffectively pigeonholing ourselves?

For myself, I do not define my practice in terms of religion, my practice is conceptual art, and the medium depends on what suits the work.

Is possible to denote my ethnic origin of my work, I’m not sure it is, clearly my name isn’t English, without that cue, I doubt that it would be possible to guess my ethnic origin from it.

Clearly, a number of works are influenced by Islamic Art/Faith, especially the typography work, the Miniature painting, the paper sculptures and the IE interactive film, but to say one is an Islamic Artist, is to say that one’s practice sits outside contemporary art scene, after this is largely made up of middle class “white” people with posh accents, especially the ones that run all the art establishments (95%)

(A couple of percent either way) white, according to the Art Council itself.

There a paper on their website or is it the Artist newsletter, I can’t remember.

So it was mostly questions which might sound familiar to a reader of my posts. They are topics and issues I’ve raised in the past and have certainly discussed in my Unit1 essay as well as in previous posts. But it’s always good to reflect back on these things and see if the answers have changed at all. If Rabhia had asked me those questions early in Unit 1 the answers would have been quite different to what they would have been at the end of Unit1 and those have slightly altered now towards the end of Unit2. The focus is mostly on definitions and categories and those are subjects I would look into if continuing the research post MA.

This is how I responded to Rabhia’s feedback:

It’s interesting that you’ve raised much the same questions that I looked very closely at during Unit 1.

I am just an ‘artist’ as you say, but I’m also Muslim and it’s what leads a lot of my choices in the art so I’m not afraid to pigeonhole myself. (as an aside, pigeonholing would not be a problem in itself unless the motive of the artist was to appeal to only their audience and that being to aim for a wide audience, rather than satisfy their own practice. There can of course be a balance but which comes first?)

But at the same time my art is produced for two levels – the first an aesthetic level which serves as a piece for visual appreciation (requires no knowledge of background or context). The second as a communication of ideas which if the viewer chooses can be explored from many angles, not just the Islamic. But if they then found out I was a Muslim, it might lead them to realise certain things in the art which are there to be read. This is the part where they have the option to interpret it as they wish or with some conscious effort to see if something is implied.

I interviewed many artists in the previous academic year and found that they all had different motives which would determine their choice of categorisation. This is why I am really interested in continuing the research – I came across some very interesting commonalities amongst the artists who have been curated as ‘Islamic’ artists. Some are reluctant to use only this term, others produce work which is obviously Islamic (Arabic calligraphy) and so it is part and parcel with their practice. Once the ‘Islamic Art’ label is adopted then it’s almost as if that work has been separated from the rest of the contemporary art scene. This would be another very interesting aspect for further research.

And one more thing – ‘Islamic Art’ is a term widely used in the art scene but relates to the culture and region in which the religion is pre-dominant rather than a direct implication that the work is of a religious nature. This is why categorisation of art work is a bit of an issue when it comes to these types of work.

Susan’s comments were:

The 1st point I’d like to make is that i found your symposium excellent and it gave a clear outline to your project, addressing many areas of your project and drawing the thought processes together in a way that was clarifying for me.

It has made me appreciate a little better the difference in understandings and expectations surrounding Islamic art and made me think about the arising questions of possible dialogues building between different expressions of contemporary cultures.

In response to Susan’s feedback I’d say I am quite pleased she has gained something from the video. The intention was to inform the viewer of the wider context of Islamic Art and to indicate where my explorations through the project research has taken me. It’s really nice to hear that it came across clearly too 🙂

And here’s the feedback from Claire:

it was nice to watch and learn more about your project in a verbal way, having followed your blog since last year

it was nice that the video had so many images to look at, this meant that it was never slow or tedious to watch as some videos are in places

it was interesting to discover your intention for interaction, especially the fact that it is so simple but yet very effective since 3D pieces have qualities of light e.g. shadow and highlights, but to put them in the dark and shine light on them is an exciting way of utilising their 3 dimensional quality

there were some shots which looked like modern sculpture e.g. pattern fabric with kitchen utensils… they were nice but seemed an abrupt jump from the preceding traditional pattern images

however the later inclusion of Islamic paintings as opposed to patterns was quite a nice broad overview of different forms of art for the viewer

the images of cut metal are very strong, particularly those which have been folded into space as opposed to 2D

the commentary sounds in places like you are reading it, when ideally it would sound like you knew it by heart, but this also is a plus because it sounds clear and not confusing

the commentary ends strongly with statements about looking forward to the group show and future research

this backs up the way you have conducted your project, a mix of exploration and confidence about what you like, want and are trying to do

I did indeed write notes which I used to read from at points. My memory just isn’t good enough to remember everything that needs to be said. Plus all good movies have strong scripts right? lol

More MDF cut

Posted June 16, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Final show stuff, Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

Tags: , , ,

So I finally got the MDF cut with the laser machine at college. It looks really nice, and for some reason I really like the smell of the burnt edges. It’s been a few hours and it still smells quite strong.

I also really like all the offcuts – they looked so cool when I pulled the whole main sheet away, and the shapes formed the pattern as they were still in place. I didn’t think to take a picture of them at that point and now wish I had. It would take ages to arrange them in formation again. But if I did it would make for a very interesting art piece me thinks.

Laser cutting machine

Laser cutting machine

Machine has finished cutting

Machine has finished cutting

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

Managed to get a shot of some pieces still in place

The final cut mdf

The final cut MDF (3mm)

Two downsides are that firstly at this scale I can notice some inaccuracies in the pattern. Some of the shapes are wider apart than others. It slightly bugs me knowing this although I doubt the average person would notice it unless they looked really hard or if it was pointed out to them. Secondly the MDF sheet was slightly smaller than we thought so the edge of the tile was cut off.

All in all it’s still pretty impressive. I want to use it for the front of my plinth, if I can, but I’ve realised I may need to re-design the way I’m planning to make the plinth.

Originally I was going to just have solid panels to make all four sides but if I use this cut out then it needs to be attached to a strong and stable frame which has legs going all the way up the sides allowing the inside to be hollow and the holes to help ventilation of the hardware concealed inside.

Things are quite mad for me at the moment. There are a lot of family commitments coming too. And I just don’t have enough hours in the day to commit to the project as I would like.

Oh well, better just get on with it and finish that essay!

An offer has been made

Posted June 15, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Questions for research, Unit2

Well, I emailed the person responsible. My letter hadn’t been sent to anyone. Only I had received someone else’s. Oh well. I managed to get an email version of my real one and so it is with happiness that I can say I have been offered a place to do my PhD as part of CCW (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon) Graduate School.Now I am putting that aside and not going to think about it till the MA is finished!

On another note: I was supposed to have received my aluminium today. At the back of my mind I’m worried I’ve been scammed. Just like being asked earlier today by a guy who was decently dressed and had a posh accent, if I could give him ’78p’ to buy a fare home as he’d left his oyster card behind. I thought hmm I’m going to take the chance and just be nice. Hopefully he won’t go and spend it on drugs. However, it would be a clever ruse on his part to ask for just 78p, most of the time ppl would just give him a full pound. And by dressing decent and using a posh accent ppl would be less likely to doubt his honesty (don’t ask me why but we all know it’s the truth). I then thought I should have just told him to go to a cash machine or bought the ticket for him lol then he’d be like errr… (at this point the truth would come out).

Why was that little story even relevant? Well because the guy I’ve been corresponding with for my Aluminium order has been very helpful and mentioned very specific technical aspects of the job which convinced me enough to pay for the work in advance of receiving it. We do this all the time with eBay and Amazon so it’s not such a foreign process. But when it involves a larger some of money – well then yeh it becomes a big deal. Now I’m even more paranoid! Oh noooo…

Someone has a PhD offer…

Posted June 13, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: related in some way

…but it’s not me. Read on, as the rest is not as predictable as you might think…

So I got home after work yesterday to find a letter from the college and I thought, hmm what could this be. I never get letters from college. Even for the interview of my PhD proposal the letter never turned up and I had to call the admin office to find out if I was supposed have heard from them by then. They emailed the letter instead as apparently it had gone missing in the post the first time around.

Anyway, so I started trying to guess what the letter was in the split seconds before I opened it. It couldn’t be a library fine or ‘return overdue books’ type, as I hardly ever use the college library (or any for that matter).  It could have been something about  the course nearly ending, some forms to fill in about finishing, and then I ran out of ideas.

So I opened the letter and I did a quick scan. The words I saw first were ‘we’re pleased to inform you…offer of a place…PhD’ and I was like Oh yeh, cool, I totally forgot that I was to have found out around this time if I had been offered a place. The funding I knew I hadn’t got but I was still supposed to find out if I was offered a normal place.

I then read the rest, ‘your area of study will be…Understanding Amateurism..’ what?! lol I was totally confused. I was like hmm maybe they adjusted the title a bit, but this much? No that can’t be right. I read on ‘your provisional supervisors will be ‘Anne something  and Dee something’. I didn’t recognise the names at all. Again they could have decided to just change my potential supervisors too. But this was a bit too much. I came to the conclusion that they had obviously made a mistake and sent me someone elses letter! How mean! I got all pleased, and now I have to wait and find out if I’ve been rejected or not. Imagine if the person who was supposed to have got this letter (even though my name address were completely correct on this one) has my letter. If that person is reading right now (the chances I know are very slim) then please let me know what it says lol.

Now I have to wait till Monday to call up the research admin office and I have a feeling they might not tell me over the phone. Annoying!

OpenCV with external camera – check

Posted June 9, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Final show stuff, Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve managed to get the external camera working with Processing and OpenCV on my mac. I thought it would be more difficult as I tried it about a month or so ago and it didn’t work. Oh well, it works now so I don’t care. I hope it just carries on working right up to the end of the show.

This image shows that the ‘index’ needs to be changed to indicate which camera input to work with when there is more than one available:

Screenshot from Processing interface indicating parameters

Screenshot from Processing interface indicating parameters

So this is one thing ticked off my To Do list.

I’ve also now been booked onto a slot for using the laser machine next week. If all goes to plan I’ll have a nice panel to use for my plinth which should then match with my sculpture as the same pattern will be cut into it. That way there is some correlation between the two and will be easier to identify that they are part of the same installation.

I’m also slightly concerned about how heavy the sculpture will be. It is meant to be wall mounted but the brackets I am thinking of using may not hold it up. Not to mention screwing the front (pattern cut) panel to the back (blank) panel.

I’ve just been reading that if drilling, a fixed or lathe drill is best for metal. For aluminium a fast speed rate but slow feed rate is best. Which means that the drill bit should be spinning really fast but should be pushing down through the material relatively slowly (I think). Handy info on drilling can be found here: http://www.diyfaq.org.uk/powertools/drillfaq.htm

Ideally it would be good to do this at the 3D resource center but then I’d have to leave the parts there through the week and won’t be able to do anything in between the Wednesdays. Not really an option.

There’s a DIY type shop at the corner of my road. I think I’ll pop in there to ask them what kind of stuff they can do. They might even be able to cut all my plinth parts for me and then I can assemble those at home and hopefully (if my car is fixed in time) drive it to uni when needed.  When it comes to this stuff I haven’t really got much experience. I’ve only ever really put some flat-packed wardrobes up. They came out well and are still standing so it’s a good sign I say. Oh and theres the random wood works I did when in school – that was fun. But back then it didn’t matter so much if things didn’t line up all that straight.

I’m also going to have a rifle through some of last year’s show plinths at uni. There might be something that can be recycled.

I think I should sleep now, I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be another looong day.

At a standstill and not in Istanbul

Posted June 5, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

I went in to uni last Wednesday for our show meeting. We made some progressive decisions about catalogues (Susan Mortimer, online student, will be making these for us in the style of her MAil Art Zines ), postcards (Jean-Baptiste Di Marco, Erasmus student, has designed us a very nice logo and followed through by creating a Digital Arts branding for posters and postcards, etc), space available and space needed.

Ina (full-timer), has been the most useful person to have on board this year. She’s been very thorough, getting all the info in and making sure everyone is getting their info, payments, images, copy, etc to her. Shes been documenting the process of getting the show up and running on her blog and lol I just read she’s having nightmares about the show. Ina – at least you’re not having Daymares!

Yeh Daymares, that’s what I’m having. And every now and then I’ll have a mini panic attack when I remember something I have forgotten needs doing. Because I keep forgetting things, when I DO remember something it feels like a bit of a miracle. I’ve been told that my forgetfulness (and now clumsiness) is due to lack of sleep. Sounds about right to me!

It’s all happening now and its a bit crazy but at the same time I don’t think it’s bad as we’re all taking it seriously and contributing as much as we can.

Anyway, so back to Wednesday…

After our show meeting I had a bit of a frustrating experience in the college 3D workshop (a bit like a technology design department) where my mdf has not been laser cut even though its been sitting there for weeks and I had been told it would be done soon.

Being unable to come in to ensure an actual slot is booked for me on the laser cutting machine (the timetable goes up on a Friday and is filled up straight away by a queue of waiting students) I was told I’d be ‘fitted in’.

However, it is now that time of the year where the staff are understandably run off their feet helping out the BA students as their show is just around the corner (a week before ours).  As a result the pressure seems to be too much.

Going in to check if my MDF was ready to collect I was first told to wait around for possibly a couple of hours, which I was prepared to do! And then when another student turned up, I was told there was no time for my mdf to be cut.  I left with nothing done and with my ears full of nonsense I did not need to hear. Something needs to be done regarding the current system for signing  for slots. It is not accommodating at all for any part-time students. Knowing most students come in on a Wednesday, the staff are still unwilling to make changes to their rotas. You can probably tell I was not very pleased that day. I could go on about it for a while but I haven’t even got the time to dwell on it.

I wanted to use the above-mentioned mdf as part of my plinth, which I’ve learnt is going to cost me maybe £400 if I have it custom-made. I could order a standard one for maybe £200 but that will still need modification to suit my basic show needs. Surely things shouldn’t be this difficult.

Another problem I am now faced with is not being able to use a PC for my projection. I had set-up processing and installed the OpenCV library but kept getting errors when trying to run the file. After some research and asking Leon Barker for his expert help, it seems there is a bug when using Windows XP for which there is no reliable fix. So now I’m back to having to use a Mac (which I may not be able to get). I’ve put my name down on a list for a Mac Mini (so that it fits in the plinth) but this is not guaranteed. Therefore, I might need to make other arrangements at the last-minute! This is not great at all! Ergh.

Anyway, so yeh that wasn’t a good day for me. But I came home, napped off my headache and am looking on the bright side, I’m alive and nothing that terrible has really happened, Thank God.

Something to cheer me up – I finally got round to sorting through some of my photos from Istanbul. I’m really into architectural shots and so most of them are focussing on details in decor or structure. There were so many mosques so I was surrounded by an abundance of patterns, both geometric and arabesque. Not to mention beautiful scenery and locations along the river.

Here are a few of the photos I managed to take:

Blue Mosque detail

Blue Mosque detail

Courtyard of Blue Mosque

Courtyard of Blue Mosque

Fountain in courtyard of Blue Mosque

Fountain in courtyard of Blue Mosque

Gold dome of external fountain

Gold dome of external fountain

Geometric pattern made with inlaid mother of pearl - cabinet doors within Topkapi palace

Geometric pattern made with inlaid mother of pearl - cabinet doors within Topkapi palace

Exterior walls of the Harem covered with tiles (Topkapi palace)

Exterior walls of the Harem covered with tiles (Topkapi palace)

Decorative patterns within the Haghia Sophia

Decorative patterns within the Haghia Sophia

Mosque on the edge of the river bank along the Bosphorous

Mosque on the edge of the river bank along the Bosphorous

I’ve been soo inspired by my visit there that I’m already thinking of a series of paintings based on the Iznik tiles. It will be a nice way to unwind and keep the creative juices flowing after the MA. It will be a less pressured project and will probably take much longer but it’ll be so much more relaxing not having a deadline. Can’t wait.

Oh and the water-jet cut aluminium has been ordered but won’t arrive till the 15th. That gives me time to do the essay, sort out using the processing code to work with an external camera, build a plinth (that has not been laser-cut) with shelves and a glass top, find or make some polyhedron models for user-interaction on the plinth, oh and I nearly forgot, cut out more mirror card for a side item (possibly to hang on a spare bit of wall in the show).

Now you know why I’m having those Daymares!

Being unable to come in to ensure an actual slot is booked for me on the machine (the timetable goes up on a Friday and is filled straight away by a queue of waiting students) as I am only ever in on a Wednesday, I was told I’d be fitted in.

DXF formats and floor plans

Posted May 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, Final show stuff, Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

Tags: , , , ,

Boring title I know but it’s late and I can’t think of anything better. Anyway…

I feel a little restless when I’m at work where I suddenly remember something that needs to be done for the project or I think of an idea that could help solve a certain issue with the practical work but I’m unable to do anything till I get home in the evening, by which time I’m usually too knackered or think of something else that also needs to be done. It is the first time since starting the course that I’ve really felt the disadvantage to being part-time.

Progress with materials: I was originally going to get some aluminium laser cut but that was going to be quite expensive. Then a very kind professional sculptor (Sahand Hesamiyan) advised me on the possibilities of having it water-jet cut instead. So far this appears a better and possibly cheaper option and without the potential to leave burnt edges where the shapes have been cut out.

I’ve prepared the pattern file in Illustrator, converted it to DXF (which is a CAD file) and have sent it off to find out how long the machine will take to cut the pattern which is where the cost starts to mount up. As it’s quite intricate compared to the kind of things they usually cut (like mechanical parts) the cost will probably be quite high (relatively speaking). But I’m hoping that even then it comes in at a reasonable price, compared to the laser cutting option. Will give an update once I find out.


The full-timers on the course have speedily got into the organisers mode and got the cogs turning in terms of getting the show sorted. Not one to sit back and do nothing, I’ve contributed some time in measuring our exhibition spaces and drawing up the floor plans. These were sent to the group, and are especially important to the on-liners who are unable to come down (some being abroad) and who will need to have an idea of what the physical space will look like.

Floor plan for room which will be well lit and generally light

Floor plan of dark space (will be kept in darkness with only selective lighted areas)

It really makes me think about all that is involved for solo as well as group shows and this process makes you think about things from a different perspective. I’m totally more in tune with the importance of exhibition spaces being suitable and in a way I now have more refined ideas of what would be perfect and what isn’t but would do anyway. And also how to make the most of what you have. Now, what I’m actually hinting at is the fact that the space our group has been allotted in the MA show isn’t really as big as it should be (simply because we’re having to accommodate the space rather than accommodate our work. But compare this to how much space the other larger groups have to share and, well, we’re not as bad off.

Plus, if I get the sculpture looking good for this then I may have a better chance of getting this and bigger work shown at a local gallery.

Tutorial with Andy – 190510

Posted May 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Tutorials, Unit2

Camberwell College of Arts

MA Visual Arts Course (Digital Arts)

19th May 2010


Issues discussed/Subject:

Firstly we watched my symposium video as I hadn’t had the chance to participate in the actual symposium. I didn’t think it was that great but I did address all the necessary points we were set and managed to just about fit those into the 5 min time frame. I had used iMovie to make it (which I’ve never used before) and wasn’t sure if it was good enough but Andy was really pleased with it.

We briefly mentioned the upcoming essay which I believe is due on 21 June. The criteria for this is similar to what was covered in the above presentations so I didn’t really have any questions about this. It needs to be between 2000 – 3000 words, and knowing myself I’ll probably need to cut-down rather than fill in more.

Discussed dimensions of my final piece and space in the show. It doesn’t seem to be an issue as my work will be wall mounted and I will most likely have a plinth a few feet in front from which the user can interact.

Notes taken:

Didn’t actually take many notes this time but did a quick sketch (which doesn’t even look like anything more than a few crisscrossing lines) so that I don’t forget the idea we came up with for the plinth. We decided that having some mini pieces of the sculpture on a glass top (a surface I had considered in the past and so this made even more sense when mentioned) over the plinth in which the projector and camera sit would be a good way to get people to interact. I was also thinking I could have one of my hand-cut mirror cards under this layer so that people can’t see the equipment but the camera has holes to view through? Needs testing but has loads of potential.

This was probably the shortest tutorial I’ve had but it was a very positive one where I was given some very useful feedback and suggestions towards my final piece. Sometimes just discussing ideas out loud makes a whole lot of difference.

Symposium presentation

Posted May 18, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Assessments/reviews, Self-reflection, Unit2

  • I am no film-maker
  • I had to make do with the in-built mic as I couldn’t find my external one
  • This was my first time using iMovie

And now you may proceed:

The original copy is much better quality but this was hugely compressed when uploading to YouTube, hence rubbish quality.

Research Proposal

Posted May 15, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Questions for research, Research areas

Here is the main bulk of my research proposal for PhD study:

Title: An investigation of contemporary Islamic art practice in Britain and the role of the artist in shaping this art scene

Subject area

The purpose of this research is to highlight current activity in contemporary British Islamic Art and to look closely at the artists who enable its development.

As this particular type of art is not considered ‘mainstream’ it is categorised in a very different manner to other art scenes which affects both perceptions of the art and the choices made by the artists producing it.

There is a strong need to understand how definitions, categorisations and identification of this art is established and used for curatorial purposes as well as artistic development. In the past these issues have been researched and addressed through historical comparisons which do not accommodate the adoption of contemporary practices nor the influences and impacts of new technologies.


Explore the relationship between artists of Islamic art and artists of Islamic faith. What distinguishes one from the other?

Investigate the extent to which contemporary artistic practices are embraced within the Islamic art scene. Look at uses of new technology in contemporary Islamic Art practice.


Clarify definitions of ‘Islamic art’ and more specifically those of ‘contemporary Islamic art’. This will involve understanding how the terms used in these definitions play a role in constructing the categories themselves.

Investigate the role of the artist and that of the curator in presenting the British public with what it terms ‘contemporary Islamic art’. Is this representative of British Islamic culture?

Explore the use of contemporary art practice within British Islamic art. Where do the boundaries merge in regards to traditional and contemporary practice?

Investigate and document the benefits and deterrents to adopting digital practices within contemporary Islamic art. Have digital and new media technologies been utilised in contemporary Islamic art to date?

Design and create an installation that fulfils the notion of contemporary Islamic art using digital practice. Determine the social and historical implications of this kind of work.

Historical and contemporary context

Contemporary Islamic art in Britain is still relatively new. This is largely due to the merging of many cultures which have combined to create the Muslim community in Britain since the influx of Eastern migrants in the early 20th century.

Recognition of this rising community which now forms a large proportion of the British population has also had lasting effects on the art produced from and for the Muslim community.

The nature of this ‘community’ involves cultures from across the globe. The faith of Islam being the common ground, and the faith’s encouragement of multi-culturalism means that the British Islamic Art scene could be making significant contributions to the global Islamic Art scene.

Theoretical context

Tracing developments of Islamic art in Britain from the early 20th century to the present (through reviews, articles and discussions by critics, artists and curators) will form the essence of the research material. This will lead to a better understanding of how British Islamic culture has been represented in Britain thus far.

By looking closely at British Islamic artists we can address questions of whether it is possible to be an Islamic ‘artist of faith’, whilst fulfilling the requirements that exist in both aspects of this title. In addition we can determine ways in which the British Islamic culture affects the output of a British Islamic artist and whether current forms of artistic practice provide a close reflection of the British Islamic culture at present.

Not so quick update

Posted April 26, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, experimentation, Inspiration, Sample work/designs/patterns, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

As I imagined things are becoming quite manic now. There are deadlines and things to remember all over the place. But, alas, this is the way of anything that has a specific pressured end such as the project.

Now I have a couple of books I’d like to mention which I was supposed to have done some time ago. Actually one of them I might have already mentioned…but I’m not sure so I’ll mention it anyway (you know, just in case).

The first is ‘Polyhedron Models’ by Magnus J Wenninger. It  contains some very striking,  but kinda complicated models of…yep you guessed it – polyhedrons. For those who don’t know what these are have a look at some of the images below. They look a little similar to the model I made a while back (Icosahedron).

A polyhedron (plural polyhedra or polyhedrons) is a geometric solid in three dimensions with flat faces and straight edges.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyhedron

Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Page 21 from M J Wenninger's Polyedron Models

Polyhedron Models illustrates how the shapes look when flat and then once constructed to their full 3D form. However, I think most of these are beyond my capability to attempt (at the moment at least) but there are some simple ones at the beginning of the book and seem less scary as the associated mathematical formulas aren’t so daunting either. Not to mention some of the names. And you’ve just got to love some of the names – e.g. Quasirhombicuboctahedron which looks something like this:


Quasirhombicuboctahedron - from pg 132 of M J Wenninger's Polyheron Models

And the rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron:


Rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron - from pg 30 of M J Wenninger's Polyhedron Models

I did a search on the author and found some fascinating imagea of his coloured paper creations:

3D models of 4D polytopes

3D models of 4D polytopes - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger

Polyhedron from set number 5 - by Magnus J Wenninger. This one would probably look brilliant if carved from stone, although I can't imagine how it could be done.

Oh and it says on this site that he is a monk. I wonder how much that has played into or influenced his interest in this kind of geometry. Have a look at his web site for more stunning photographs and more on his writing too.

On to the second book. This one is ‘Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art’ by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman. Now I heard about this book some time ago but kinda forgot about it then realised it wasn’t newly available and then recently decided to just get a second-hand copy via the net. But it’s totally worth it. If I had this book maybe a yr and a half ago I think I might have done a lot more pattern work. It was Richard Henry (teacher for the pattern-making workshop) who recommended this book to me not so long ago and I can see that it is an immensely useful, practical and encouragingly inspiring one to have. Yes a lot of superlatives but they were all intentional.

Now Issam El-Said died at the age of 50 in 1988 before he was able to finish his PhD. But in the time that he was practising his art and already doing much research into the area of geometry he managed to create some beautiful pieces and publish very informative and educational writing. His work (both academic and artistic) is still valued today and this book is only one example.

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

Hardback cover of Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art by Issam El-Said and Ayșe Parman

The cover itself (hardback version) has gold calligraphy on the front (under the paper cover) which is a nice touch. And then inside there are photographs of geometric patterns from real architectural sources around the world. Besides these photos are diagrams of how those patterns have been constructed. Like really simple ways to construct them!

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art - pg 47

Page 47 from Geometric concepts in Islamic Art

Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art pg 91

Page 91 from Geometric Concepts in Islamic Art

I’ve realised that with some patterns there are a couple of ways to approach them, one being to create the foundation grid and build that up with a few layers of sub grids. This is mostly useful for when the grids might be used in multiple ways to create a pattern of maybe semi-regular tiling rather than just regular tiling. Well that’s the impression I got anyway. But the construction diagrams in this book cut a lot of the process out and show you how to get  to the final main pattern in the quickest way possible.

Unfortunately, I won’t have much time before the end of the project to try out more of these patterns.

Back to El-Said – here’s a link to web site (http://www.issam-el-said.co.uk/index2.html) in which you can read up about his history and achievements as well as find examples of his art work. Here’s one of my favourites (note the combination of Arabic calligraphy and geometry):

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said

Allah, Mohammed (Hexagon) detail Limited edition etching 30x30cm by Issam El-Said. Image from: http://www.issam-el-said.co.uk/16253.html

Change of topic now. I’d like to mention the plug my work got on the Eastern Soul blog: http://www.easternsoul.net/2010/04/two-visual-artists-with-eastern-soul/ It’s nice to have your work appreciated 🙂

The Eastern Soul blog has been created in order to showcase artists and individuals involved in the creative arts who have added a bit of their own Eastern touch. There should be some interesting features on the blog in the coming months…

And finally on to my project developments. These aren’t going as fast as I’l like them to be. I’ve finished the pattern I was working on recently – it looks quite nice on paper and I’m about to move onto making a mirror card prototype of a sculpture using it (God willing). Here’s an image illustrating the stages of creating it:

various stages of creating 12 point star pattern using Daud Sutton's Islamic Design.

Various stages of creating a 12 point star pattern using an example from Daud Sutton's 'Islamic Design'.

I’m now trying to digitise this pattern but have faced a few errors and need to think of an alternative approach to my current one. However, I’ve been mucking about with what I have so far and for those of you who like a bit of colour:

Pat7_Splash courtesy of Sara Choudhrey :)


And finally, we have the date for our symposium (in which all students have to do a 5 min presentation of their project) which is to be on May 5th.

The areas we have been told to cover include:

– Project overview
– Key developments during your time on the course
– Key contextual discoveries
– Post MA developments

I feel comfortable with the topics in general although the 3rd one might be a bit lengthy. We’ll need to include imagery and can either present in person or through a video/podcast. Unfortunately, I will be away the week it is due so will have less time to prepare it the way I would like to. I may have to stick to a good old powerpoint presentation – eww. Maybe I’ll try something in Flash. We’ll see.

Scary vampires

Posted April 7, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Self-reflection, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

After looking at some rubbish web cams which claim to have night vision capability (and actually only have LEDs to light up when it gets dark) I decided to go with a really cheap one from China (through eBay), just in case it turned out to be one of those.

It’s a very small camera which even has a mic,  and works surprisingly well for just £3! It works using Infra-red LEDs allowing it to work in the dark. I was quite sceptical of the quality of the image so naturally I tested it with different variables.

I turned the lights off and only had the light coming from my laptop screen at first and it worked great. I then placed the camera facing away from the laptop (completely behind it) and it still worked well. I stood in front with my little sister and it made us look like really pale vampires with scary shiny grey eyes! We both have dark brown eyes so not sure why that was happening. Anyway, the point is it works and when I use it for my work it will actually be mounted overhead so the problem of looking like scary vampires won’t be an issue.

I then tried to get it working with the OpenCV and processing examples on my PC but to no avail. I keep getting error messages. This is a major annoying factor, but one must persevere! I just have to keep trying to figure it out.

OpenCV - Errors :(

OpenCV - Errors 😦

I have also ordered a large roll of mirror card. It took me some time to track down someone who could sell it to me uncut (as the largest sizes you can get in the shops is A2). This gives me loads to experiment and work with and was a good saving on the usual retail price too.

I have also been looking into metal-cutting companies who not only supply but provide services for cutting metal sheets (aluminium, steel etc) but seem to be doing this mostly on mass scales. Its been another difficult aspect of getting the practical work together but I’m still hoping it can be done as a one-off and at a reasonable price. I’m now waiting for those companies to get back to me with quotes.

So all in all there are many small things going on but all are necessary in order to produce the whole which is probably why I haven’t been blogging as much.

My next task is to choose and complete a final pattern. I want to up the game a bit with this and choose a more complicated one that combines possibly 10 and 5 fold arrangements or 12 and 6. Plus I want to add my own touch to the standard pattern formations. It’s not a huge requirement but would be a nice bonus.

I am also aware that I had set myself the goal of having a proto-type ready by the end of March. Unfortunately there have been a huge amount of things to do which has slowed my progress down. And more things keep coming up! I do sometimes wish I could work on this project full-time but then again the other things going on are not bad things or are things that are about progress in life in general and so I wouldn’t sacrifice those either.

Detection with Processing

Posted March 14, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Right I’ve been going around in circles but I am now hoping this is the last time. I’ve decided to go back to Processing as it allows me to use the feed from the web cam and manipulate it using little code which I am told is more reliable in this context compared to Flash. Soo even though I found this really cool example (try the demo if you have a web cam): http://blog.soulwire.co.uk/code/actionscript-3/webcam-motion-detection-tracking which uses Flash, I am going to actually use Processing which is actually easier to understand (now that I look at it properly) and that will probably take less learning to adjust.

The official info on Processing can be found on their web site: http://processing.org/
And here are a couple lines from their home page:

“Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions.”

I will be using OpenCV (a library which is imported into Processing) to get a basic black and white image of the floor area to project onto my work which will be mounted on the wall. This way the viewer can literally move around on this floor  in order to alter the areas that are illuminated and try and play around with manipulating the shadows and reflections that are projected from that. Obviously it may not work as well with just heads and shoulders in view (remember it will be an aerial view) but that’s something I need to test in the next couple of weeks.

Here are a couple of test images from the camera view as processed using OpenCV and the blobs() method which by the looks of it calculates where whole ‘blobs’ are in the image, and constantly checks for where lines merge or disconnect in objects, so if one object comes in front of another then it would change where the edges are detected (I think).

I changed the contrast and colour from the default which is grey and white and used a book cover and a cd for the following to give a better idea of how it cuts out things that don’t have whole areas defined and focuses on those that do:

Image of book cover with Blob() function using OpenCV in Processing

Image of an intricate book cover as seen using the blobs() method with OpenCV in Processing

Image of CD processed with OpenCV using the blobs() method

The results aren’t as predictable as they appear in the above images though. They constantly change and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how movements and changes in the view affect what is then displayed. I will need to play around with this quite a bit to make it less sporadic and more intuitive so that it works better in the show.

The code is really short and simple and there are quite a few examples on the OpenCV resource page: http://ubaa.net/shared/processing/opencv/

You don’t need to even be able to understand this stuff to try it out. You can simply download the necessary software and additional libraries from the two links I’ve provided. After installing you can either try out the examples already in the Processing library (really cool ways of producing generative art with this) or by pasting in code found on the two sites to view and play around with the results. There’s also loads of examples where you can interact with a cursor or movement through a web cam to change the visuals. There is much fun to be had!


Posted March 5, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been experimenting using some good old reflective card to create 3D shapes that could mirror well as collective components to a larger shape.

I started off with just the outer shell and got a bit carried away with this initial shape and how it worked with my reflective pattern sheet:

This is a head-on view looking into the pyramid shell, the inside is reflective the outside just white

This is the pyramid before adding the back panel. The pattern is mirrored in interesting ways. The top bit looks like a scary eye!

Pyramid - top, angled view. Placement of the top of the triangle means the pattern is better tessellated and therefore works better in creating an infinite pattern within the pyramid

Invisible pyramid - reflective panel added to outer wall

This one is my favourite because with the addition of the outer reflectivity an illusion is created whereby only the edges of the 3D shape is visible. The rest of the shape looks like it’s semi-transparent and showing the underlying pattern when it is actually a reflection of the pattern around all sides including the inside. I really like this aspect and would love to play around with it some more if I get the time.

Moving on, I started making smaller pyramids to fit inside the large shell to try and recreate a tesselated look without a 2D pattern.  Here’s how I constructed it:

Construction process for reflective pyramids structure

And here’s a better view of the final structure – a sort of open-ended pyramid filled with smaller pyramids which were also open-ended:


It’s nothing major and only a small tester model but on a large-scale I think it could look really good. I noticed that with there being gaps between some of the edges it wasn’t such a bad thing as it allowed light to come in through the back and illuminate the inner space and so allowing the reflections,  symmetry and geometry to show more clearly. It’s especially nice to look closely as if being enclosed by the reflected walls and getting an impression you could be encompassed by this structure. If it was life-size, sitting inside would be quite entrancing I think.

In a way it would be really good to be able to create many different pieces that reflect the developments in my research but that would be like setting up a massive exhibition of my own! (Maybe one day)

We still don’t know for sure how much space we get for our individual work in the end of year MA show. I’m hoping to get a proto-type completed soon so that I can not only know for myself what scale would work best but also use the proto-type to indicate scale and usability to others.

Practical solutions

Posted March 3, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Ideas for project outcome, Self-reflection, Unit2

Tags: ,

I don’t think I realised how worried I was becoming about the need to learn a load of electronics, using the Arduino, Processing and connecting up all the potential sensors, not until I realised how relieved I was at hearing of alternatives that might work just as good if not better.

I attended Leon’s electronics workshop and spoke to a previous student a day before about my aims and they both suggested Video tracking as a solution. This sounds perfect! The potential is huuge.

Also, I got a quote back from a company about a matrix array sensor – guess how much…$3000 – $4000!!!! lolol yeh I know.

Ok so back to the solution, I found some really cool examples of video tracking in conjunction with Flash which is how Leon suggested it be used. The ones on this page are more like games but with a bit of editing could do the trick: http://www.discombo.co.uk/cam-experiments.htm

Also because it uses ActionScripting (which I at least recognise) it might be more realistic for me to pick up in practice.  As this practical prep is taking up much of my time I find myself blogging less. However, there’s a lot going on in this brain of mine (only some of it daydreaming) so here’s hoping it comes together soon so that I can go back to the aesthetics of the work and spend a good amount of time on that again.

Thinking things through

Posted March 2, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Ideas for project outcome, Unit2

Tags: ,

All this electronics stuff is exciting but weird. I’m still not sure what I’m doing but feel I’m making tiny bits of progress in trying to find suitable solutions for my design, which btw is actually quite ambitious. But if I don’t give it a shot I’ll regret not trying so am going to anyway.

I think there are some specialised products out there that could be better for use in my installation but these are either in other countries or only used in major manufacturing industries. I’ve contacted a few people who have either made their own or who produce these products and am waiting in hope that they will be able to assist me with my work. There are a few examples of people making their own fabric sensors on YouTube which is my plan B.

The basic sensors come as switches or resistors for singular triggers. So you can imagine that  if one person was to stand on the flooring with their weight detected by the sensor then this would send a message to the computer to project light onto the sculpture creating the reflected projection that I am aiming for. However, what if more people come and start walking on the flooring? Would I only be able to send one message and therefore only have one projection of light? Would there be a way to make all sensors activate projections through a single application? So this is my current predicament. I don’t want the work to mess up because there are too many people interacting with it and I don’t want to restrict it so that only one or two people can interact with it.

I am setting myself a deadline for the end of march to make a smallish prototype. There are two main factors that I need to test:

1) electronic set-up, making the sensors work

2) communicating between input and output in order to activate projection

This will then lead to me being able to figure out the scale to which I can build the actual sculptural work and restrict the area in which the projection occurs and co-ordinate this with the area that the sensors cover. I really hope all this works out!


BeatBearing and more electronics!

Posted February 20, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Ideas for project outcome, Self-reflection, Unit2

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The title should probably be the other way around as I’m going to mention the electronics bit first.  I am really trying to figure out exactly what I’m going to need for my proto-typing for my next personal deadline. It’s dawning on me that this is way out of my comfort-zone. I don’t know where to start. However, I have come across some friendly and mostly helpful people so far and I’m hoping that will continue to be the case.

Leon Barker (PhD Student at SCIRIA) will be in uni again doing workshops in a couple of weeks on Arduino circuits and the like (I hope!). I have looked up bits of info randomly here and there about equipment and materials that I may need for AC lighting manipulation (which is really dangerous and so I’m slightly scared) and I’m also trying to find some pressure sensitive mats. The ones at Maplin seem to be very basic and have a switch for an open or closed circuit. This means there can only be two states and therefore two conditions for me to work with. I guess this could potentially do the trick depending on how I set up the lighting. An alternative is to project light on to my work instead of illuminating it from behind. I think both could work. Maybe I’ll need to use both anyway. But that’s another thing I won’t know till I’ve tried it.

I can’t believe how much there is to think about! I’ve had to stall on the sculptural aspects of the work for now as I fear the electronics will take much longer and is a higher hurdle. I did find some interesting acrylic materials but none of these would be suitable for what I need. I also found many steel.aluminum suppliers and cutters but they are very industrial based and so charge huge amounts for bulk amounts (can’t afford it and don’t need that much anyway).

So anyway while looking up these things I came across Peter Bennett’s work on YouTube. He is a PhD student at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queens University Belfast. His current work can be read about and viewed on this site: http://www.sarc.qub.ac.uk/~pbennett/index.htm But I really want you to see is this video which shows his BeatBearing project. You can figure out how it works just from watching:

The cool thing is Peter has used Arduino and Processing for BeatBearing and has made his code and methods available for others to re-construct and experiment with. More about this project can be read here: http://www.beatbearing.co.uk/index.html

And before I finish off this post here is another link to a video in which you can see Peter Bennett and Sean Toru’s Transparency in Digital Art installation. They’ve used processing as well as pressure sensitive mats to allow users to create and edit shapes projected onto the wall through their movement on the floor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyc-zMKeI70

Hmmm – lots to think about!

Kinetica Art Fair 2010

Posted February 15, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, Inspiration

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If anyone went to the Kinetica Art Fair last week, I’m sure they would have been as excited as I was. One thing to note for next time – don’t stand still for too long as something will either wheel itself into you or will prod you in the back. Things were moving of their own accord (from all appearances). There were mobile-like metal structures that expanded (one of which nearly knocked me out) and there were glass and metal balls chasing each other or sticking to objects using magnets.

Most of the work required knowledge of electronics, engineering and many other hands-on crafting and technical skills to create.

Here are a few photos I took on the day (on my mobile so quality isn’t that great):

Kinetic sculpture by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculpture by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculptures by Hans Kooi

Kinetic sculptures by Hans Kooi

These sculptures looked amazing. Thin wire was used along with magnets both repelling and attracting pieces. This allowed for the work to look like it was floating in mid-air and also kept in place by invisible forces. It must have taken a lot of time and effort to get these as accurately placed as they were. For much better images and more of Hans Kooi’s kinetic sculptures have a look at his site: http://www.hanskooi.com/

Further sculptural work was exhibited by Davide Angheleddu who uses the laser sintering of nylon powder to create these beautiful sculptures of components from marine plankton:

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Iris (the larger of the two)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Iris (the larger of the two)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Screw (far right)

Sculptures by Davide Angheleddu including Screw (far right)

For more images and information on Angheleddu’s work see his site: http://www.davideangheleddu.com/

An inspiring piece for me personally was the Moiresphere by Dianne Harris (founding director, and curator of Kinetica Museum). I tried to take photos that illustrated the construction of this piece and it actually looks more complicated in the images. There was a spinning object in the centre surrounded by mirrors on all sides including triangular shaped ones to fill the corners of the box in which it all sat. This created the illusion that there were many spinning parts and at some angles made it look like many more were to be found in hidden crevices.

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

Looking in to the Moiresphere by Dianne Harris 2010

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

Moiresphere by Dianne Harris

This reminded me of some of the other art works I have come across in the past that utilise the reflected kaleidoscope effect. It works every time and makes for a curiosity the audience is eager to explore and understand. I am hoping to get this kind of effect from my own work.

Another example of engaging the audience was apparent in many of the pieces where the visitor was encouraged and actually compelled to create the events. In the Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter (below) you had to place your hand over a sensor in order to get the water in the tubes to rise and to create the sound. Here’s a quick explanation from their own site:

“The sound used in the installation is an audio manifestation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB),widely believed by cosmologists and astrophysicists to be residual radiation from the Big Bang itself, some 14 Billion years ago.” (Excerpt from http://www.interactive-agents.com/kinetica_info.html)

The Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter by Interactive-Agents, Robin McGinley

The Hydro-Acoustic Big Bang Filter by Interactive-Agents, Robin McGinley

Another piece which has been photographed and used a lot for the show catalogue as well as on the web site is the Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin. This was created using many fibre-optic wires which were scratched in order to have the light catch at different points within the wire. These were then placed together to create the outline of a human figure. Her work is made up of three of these figures hung to look like supernatural spirits floating just above the ground.

Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin

Homos Luminosos by Rosaline de Thelin

There were also some very simple constructions tht were very eye-catching. Liquid Athletes was designed and created by Nimra Javaid along with a group of students from Thames Valley University.

Liquid Athletes by Nimra Javaid

Liquid Athletes by Nimra Javaid

It was created using overhead projectors (the kind we used to have at school before the latest ones were installed), coloured plastic, and some tubing to allow for the water to be dropped into bowls in time to a human heart rate.

A really cool thing about the Kinetica Art Fair was that the artists were mostly around, either keeping people interacting with their work, demonstrating it, or just ready to answer any questions. One of these friendly artists was Hugh Turvey who was very willing to speak about his work, future project plans and eager for feedback too.

Various pieces by Hugh Turvey

Various pieces by Hugh Turvey

More photography by Hugh Turvey

More photography by Hugh Turvey

The added touch of colour to Turvey’s X-ray photography provides the element of heat or energy inside the objects indicating either movement and growth. It works well in plants, human body parts as well as mechanical objects like the motorbike which can be viewed on his site: http://www.gustoimages.com/portfolio/x-ray/

My final image is of Waves by Paul Friedlander. He’s widely known for his work producing Kinetic light sculptures created with a knowledge of physics. I’m not going to even attempt to summarise this so please have a look at his site where you can find a wealth of information and examples of his work: http://www.paulfriedlander.com/

Waves by Paul Friedlander

Waves by Paul Friedlander

The above image came out quite nicely but will never do justice to the live movement of the waves which you’ll have to try and see for yourself at one of his next events. The colours are beautiful and set against the dark background with minimal lighting really help them to stand out. They looked almost like spinning ropes twining around each other but never becoming tangled. ‘Mesmerizing’ would be the best word to describe it.

I came out of the fair with a real buzz 🙂

Breaktime is over

Posted January 9, 2010 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Sample work/designs/patterns, Self-reflection

Tags: , , , ,

Ahhh what a nice break. It’s been cool giving myself time to relax. I thought I’d treat myself for the hard work of Unit1 which btw I got feedback for last week and it was very positive.

This was very encouraging and I am eager to progress this project to see what I’ll produce as the end nears in a few months. It’s roughly 5 months to the end of the course. I’m not counting the rest of this month or July. You have to give yourself contingency time don’t you?

So just to recount my goals for the next few months…

I need to:

  • explore further lighting options
  • experiment with interactive elements of lighting use
  • look at further materials that could be used for sculptural aspects of the work e.g, aluminium?
  • build second prototype by mid-March? (may need to revise this one later)
  • keep taking photographs of work as I go along (I like how these have come out so far and the process has turned into an artistic practice in itself)

I’m sure there will be more to add to this list but even this is enough to keep me going till I need to produce the final version. But then so much could happen in the next few months so this is only an indication of what I’m going to aim for.

Oh and here’s an image I created last week. It is a combination of hand-drawn and digital illustration (best way I can think of describing it). I think black and white is just my thing. Even though I contemplate doing coloured work I tend to always come back to the black and white. I guess its a classic combo that always looks good.

Inversion by Sara Choudhrey

Inversion by Sara Choudhrey

Material matter

Posted December 15, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, Inspiration, Research areas

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Here is some very interesting, beautiful and inspiring work from various artists around the world. You’ll notice their work is very hands on and they utilise materials which require skills of labour not just thought and planning.

Firstly, this link was sent to me by Isaac (fellow student from MA: http://diminutos.wordpress.com/).  The following images are just a few of the pieces created by Cal Lane who I believe is still based out in Putnam Valley, New York, United States.

Shovels by Cal Lane

Patterns plasma-cut into steel shovels by Cal Lane. Image taken from http://www.callane.com/works.html

Wheelbarrow by Cal Lane

Plasma-cut steel wheelbarrow (2007) by Cal Lane. Image taken from http://www.callane.com/

Cal Lane

Large piece by Cal Lane. Image taken from http://www.callane.com/

Although Cal has chosen industrial purpose objects, they were redundant till she took them on for her work. So oil cans and large barrels now become her medium for art. In high contrast to the very masculine and rough materials and surfaces she works with, Cal applies very feminine and elaborate patterns, cutting them out to look as if she has just embroidered lace.

The dark colours and rusty look and effect of these materials creates another aspect to her work which reminds me of henna/mehndi. This is a natural dye which when applied and left to dry leaves a dark orange stain to the skin. This is usually applied with ornate patterns to the hands and feet on special occasions in the Indian-subcontinent and Arab nations:

Traditional Indian style Henna/mehndi applied to a hand. Image taken from http://redanna.blogspot.com/2009/03/henna.html

To read more about Cal Lane and how she makes these amazing pieces please visit her web site where you’ll find loads more exhibition work, background info and reviews: http://www.callane.com/


Colourful blasts of geometric sculptures by Jen Stark, another discovery but this time from browsing through google images. The below are just a few sample of her vast work which also includes a couple of animations and drawings.

Spectral Zenith by Jen Stark. Image taken from http://www.jenstark.com/sculpture/

I’m not sure I need to spend much time explaining why I like them so much. But I must mention that they are made using paper. Yes, I know, they are cool simply based on the fact that they are hand and crafted to create and produce extraordinary shapes and designs.

The use of colour is great and something I feel I cannot dwell on too much for my own work just yet. But perhaps for a future project I will be gladly looking to her work for inspiration on colour coordination.

Radial Reverie by Jen Stark

Transfixed by Jen Stark

Eureka by Jen Stark

Eureka by Jen Stark - a monochromatic piece

I cannot recommend enough that you should have a look through Jen’s site at ALL her work not just some of it. You will be amazed: http://www.jenstark.com/sculpture/?page=sculpture


And finally – I accidently came across Sahand Hesamiyan‘s work whilst browsing through some Iran based art sites.

My favourite pieces of Sahand’s are the ones I’ve chosen to display below. This is because they have been created with an underlying structure of geometric shapes that when contemplated further can be identified as those that appear in traditional Islamic patterns.

Untitled, composite and brass (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

Shams Ι (Sun Ι), Black Oxidised steel (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

Eastern Sun, composite and Aluminium (2007) by Sahand Hesamiyan. Image taken from http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/

I got in touch with Sahand and he has very kindly replied to my enquiries about his work methodology. I sent him a few interview type questions and he directed me to this statement which he did as part of the Magic of Persia – Contemporary Art Prize 2009 of which he was a finalist: http://www.mopcap.com/finalists/statement/98

He mentions some great points about why he has chosen to focus on a sculptural presentation of these shapes which are familiar and close to the people of Iran where he is from. Here is a point he makes which I think is very significant:

The aim is to understand geometry as sculpture, which in traditional arts have always been trapped on the surface and didn’t have the possibility of presentation in the shape of independent sculpture.

I feel as if I can really relate to his aims as we both make use of shapes and forms which are closely connected to traditional Islamic patterns and yet we present them in work which is unusual for the Islamic Art scene.  I hope I do achieve my goals as well as or close to how Sahand Hesamiyan has. I find his work very inspiring and it’s great to see that he has considered the historical relevance of his work from a cultural perspective.

Have a look through more of Sahand’s work on his web site where you’ll find a range of installation and sculptural pieces and some interesting photos of how he constructs his larger pieces: http://www.sahandhesamiyan.com/html/selectwork/sculpture/eastsun/eastsuna.html


Posted December 3, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns, Self-reflection

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Yey I finished it!

Icosahedron with simple pattern cut out of it

Icosahedron with simple pattern cut out of it

It was quite fiddley but I felt like I was in nursery doing crafts again. It was so much fun putting it together. For some reason I decided to make life a little difficult for myself too by cutting a simple pattern into it which took tonnes more time but now you can see how the pattern relates to the shape and also a kind of indication of the 3D structure that forms an Icosahedron.

So continuing from last week the images below show the process for making it:

Icosahedron template

Icosahedron template

pattern on to Icosahedron

Cutting pattern into each face of the Icosahedron - which is made up of equilateral triangles

Pattern cut into Icosahedron template

Template of icosahedron with pattern cut in all faces. The thicker borders are where the tabs are for attaching edges to the neighbouring edge

Assembling the Icosahedron

Assembling the Icosahedron

So obviously as soon as I got that done I just had to start experimenting. I used my reflective sheets and cut-out from a few weeks ago and formed a quick sculptural piece similar to what I would submit for an installation. I laid this flat, turned the lights off and left the small PIR unit at the end of the cone like shape to allow the light to flow through this towards the icosahedron and onto the cut-out pattern below.

View from above

View of installation prototype from above

View of prototype head-on

View of prototype head-on - before main light is turned off

prototype side view

prototype side view in dark which is how it would be exhibited


Only the PIR light has been left on and creates the view seen here. There is a mix of shadows competing with reflections and larger areas of light and shade.

prototype close-up

Close-up looking into the cone like area to where the icosahedron sits

I like how this looked against the black of darkness. It conveys the high contrast I was after and allows the distinctive shapes to show clearly.  The reflection of light makes it much brighter and the shadows cast from the patterns much darker therefore it stands out with much more contrast and visibility. I also like the fact that the whole piece is surrounded in darkness and therefore allows it to seem like a standalone installation that could fit into a generic gallery space.

In addition to this it looks quite futuristic and space age – not really something I considered before. I may contemplate this at a later stage – whether I want to leave this aspect as it is or change or remove it.

I also realised that the shapes and lines and use of the cone shape remind me of architectural structures. This was reaffirmed when I received feedback in which a similar comment was made.

I don’t think the photos do this piece justice though. It’s meant to be viewed in its physical form with the naked eye. In trying to capture it as an image it loses some of its awe. The good thing about it being a physical and 3D piece is that it encourages the viewer to move around it and explore it from different angles. By doing this the view changes with shapes changing according to the direction of light and casting of shadows and reflection.

I think for this point of the course – with the Unit 1 assessment just around the corner – it’s a good thing I’ve been able to experiment with the shapes and lighting even if it is still only the early stages of this.

The set-up of all the parts and the addition of the lighting meant a lot of time has to be set aside for this in future.

My next objectives are to:

– Do more research into lighting – especially motion sensitive options.
– Look into stronger materials for another prototype.
– And sooner or later I will need to pick my final pattern – which I will need to convert into a vector image suitable for use with the laser cutting machine.

Oh so busy

Posted November 29, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Self-reflection

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Unit 1 assessment is due on December 8th. I’ve started a draft for the curation page for this. So far it’s going ok. There’s a lot that needs to be said but I can’t make it too lengthy so need to word things wisely and use the space efficiently with only those posts linked in it that will best illustrate my progress and developments.

Oh and it’s Eid – so obviously I am planning to take it easy for a couple of days.

I am currently in the middle of making the larger Icosahedron. I’ve had to rack my brain about what pattern will work the best and in the end after spending ages over-complicating things for myself I decided to just do a very simple one for now. Then if/when this turns out ok I can concentrate on trying a more complex one.

Icosahedron prep

Using the Icosahedron template I downloaded...

I created a larger version on some really thick card. Its A2 and will hopefully hold together much better than ordinary paper or card

...I created a larger version on some very thick card. Can't remember the GSM but believe me this stuff good make a shelter. Each face (triangle) is aprox. 13 cms on each side.

On another note:

The Saturday workshops are now down to the last two sessions. We have chosen our final mediums for applying our patterns to. Adam Williamson and Lateefa Spiker (see examples of her work here: http://www.lateefaspiker.com) demonstrated the many practices we could employ for our work. Amongst these were ceramic tiles, plaster sculptures, stone carving, veneer marquetry (I think that’s what it’s called), and gilding or painting on glass. The following images were taken in the workshop and some of the work is from current or past students. I do not have their names and so cannot state what belongs to who but just be aware that it is the work of students attending the workshop and applying patterns that have been taught by both Richard Henry and Adam Williamson (you can find out more about the classes here: http://www.adamwilliamson.com/42.html)

Plaster casting

Plaster moulding and carving

Stone carving examples

More stone carving

More stone carving

Stone carving by Adam Williamson

Carving of arabesque design in stone by Adam Williamson

cutting veneer

Cutting veneer using templates

Veneer marquetry

Veneer marquetry

Tile making

Tile making and a semi-glazed example

Tile making 2

More tile making

Examples of wood carving

Examples of wood carving

An icosahedron!

An Icosahedron! This one is made from MDF, the pieces cut at an angle to allow the to slot together nice and clean

Zilij tiles

Zellij tiles. I can't imagine how a beginner would achieve breaking the tiles using the chisel and hammer to 'smash/cut' the individual shapes from each piece that would then fit together to create the pattern. Very hard work.

I couldn’t decide which to go for, as there were so many options. But with only a few hours on three Saturdays, I felt as if whatever I chose I would have to rush it. So I thought let me just go for something I may not get another chance to do for a while – stone carving! lol I don’t even know if my biceps are up to it but I’m going to give it my best. So I chose the weave pattern I did a few weeks ago (see here) and so far have transferred it on to a chunk of stone. This is some lovely soft stone that is relatively easy to carve and has a smooth surface and a slightly creamy colouring. It looks really nice so I’m hoping I do a good job of it.

On top of all this I need to do some final tests with the sculptural pieces for the Unit One assessment. So far I have the reflective work but I want to create a 3D shape version to see if that will work in a similar way to the flat/curved sheets I tried a few weeks ago. I’m hoping the Icosahedron will not take too much longer as that will form the basis for my next set of shapes which will also be using reflective sheets.

I have also decided that after this assessment I will concentrate more on the lighting aspect of the installation. I haven’t looked closely enough at this area and feel there is more room for experimentation. As my current time is being occupied with creating patterns and applying these to different materials I need to set myself a deadline in order to keep that work contained and not spend too long on it. I do really enjoy this part of the work a lot though. So once I have pinpointed the lighting sources with satisfaction, and if I have time I will return to the patterns and materials to hopefully produce some interesting and perhaps more complex constructions.

I am also really intrigued with the possibilities that are emerging with combining 2D and 3D shapes. The work has potential in many subject areas so even this is making me think too much.

Anyway I’ll stop it there for now and get back to finishing that Icosahedron.

Rumi style pattern-making

Posted November 29, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Sample work/designs/patterns

Tags: ,

It’s been a few weeks but it’s never too late for an update.

Here are a few images showing how we produced a border using the Rumi pattern with Adam Williamson in the saturday workshops. My instructions are probably not fit to be followed so please ignore anything that sounds odd:

rumi pattern making

Creating a square using geometric construction of circles

rumi style pattern-making

Add rumi style shapes along central horizontal and vertical lines and add spirals in each division

Next stage - highlight rumi (sort of paisley) shapes fitting on those already drawn

next stage add smaller Rumi shapes on top of the larger ones - using their outline as a guide for placement

rumi pattern making

Starting to fill in spaces in and around the main shapes and the spirals with petal like shapes

rumi pattern making

Here are two similar versions of the same pattern but doubling the line to make it look more 3D. I considered cutting it out but haven't got the time at the moment 😦

rumi pattern making

Using just the top half of the assembled pattern - we extended the square by half and using the same spiral forms we continued the pattern to create a corner. I used the one at the bottom as my final choice

rumi style pattern border

And here is my final version. Using the tracing paper it's easier to keep drawing on to another sheet especially as you flip it over from one side to the other, that way there is always pencil on each side to transfer on to the sheet below. The lighter shading was initially due to the fact that my rubber would erase some of the colouring from the card too (which was from the inside of high street paper bag as I had no A2 size paper/card at home). I then decided to continue erasing the colour as a kind of effect and it didn't look so bad.

Corner border detail

Detail of border pattern

I now want to apply this pattern on other materials. It would look really good as a border for a mirror or as a frame for something. But I’ll have to shelve that idea for now as there is too much to doooo…

testing video

Posted November 18, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s not great but I hope it illustrates some of what I was trying to explain in my previous post in regards to experimenting with light, shadows, reflection and the patterns. Just to remind you it’s the PIR unit I’m using as the light source and it turns off when it cannot detect movement hence it going dark a couple seconds into the video:

PIR lights

Posted November 16, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns, Self-reflection

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The small magnetic lights arrived from Hong Kong but they don’t work all that great. They are supposed to work with a magnet that once pulled away from the unit cause the light to switch on. They are advertised to be used in say a cupboard where the magnet would be attached to the inside of the door and the light would be attached to the underside of the top of the cupboard. So when you open the door the light turns on. However, they seem to be a little temperamental and have either stopped working completely or decide to switch on or off in an erratic manner unrelated to the location of the magnet. They are also actually much smaller than I thought. But then that’s the risk of purchasing something from ebay I guess. They only cost about £4 so it was worth the risk.

Small lights activated with magnets

Small lights activated with magnets

Anyway I thought they could be used in some inventive way. I thought of maybe attaching the magnets to wands and getting people to turn the lights on from hidden places under my possible sculptures? Or some other hidden form of physical interaction where the person wouldn’t know a magnet was involved and would just assume it was all touch based. Hmm, if only I could create something touch based – but I’ve realised my skills in programming will not be advancing any time soon.

I’m actually quite wary of even going down that route – not only because I know I am not going to have time but also because I think I can find alternative solutions that allow more time for experimentation and proto-typing instead. Plus the pattern-making takes up the majority of my time. I don’t mind this as I still enjoy this very much, but it means I need to manage my time especially efficiently.

The disappointment of these small lights led me to Maplin where I purchased a much chunkier light which actually uses PIR (passive infra-red) to detect movement and so turns on automatically. This is designed for in-door/garage use and works well for what it is. The light seems to have a bit of a blue tinge to it though.

PIR light

PIR light - you can see comparative size of this to the smaller lights and the small pin I left on the desk but which highlights the scale of proportion

The down-side is that there is no flexibility in terms of how long the light stays on for (dependent on movement being continuous) and it has only 3 modes:

– On all the time,
– Off all the time,
– or automatic activation which only works in the dark and when movement is detected.

I did a bit of testing with this and it turns on as soon as you get a few feet near it. But the light doesn’t reach far enough and this I think will pose safety issues unless I have some other dim but permanent source of light also in the room/space I exhibit it.

During my tests I stuck my reflective cut-out onto the ceiling near a corner at a curved angle so that it looked like a web hanging down.

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Hanging reflective pattern cut-out. This was with the light on - one side shows the reflected pattern and the other shows the shadow - both stand out very well

I then switched the lights off and used the PIR light as if it were a torch moving around with it. The cool thing about this is that it deals with a very strong aspect of the interaction I was hoping for.

(I have a video of this but it’s a bit jumpy and has me having a conversation over it so I need to remove the audio before it can be viewed. As soon as it’s sorted I will post it up so be sure to look out for it as I think it’s come out quite good).

Here’s a shot before I made the video – not the best but conveys how it looks in the dark (light source being the large PIR unit I mentioned above):

Shadow_vs_reflection - hanging pattern

Once again shadow vs reflection - a nice line of symmetry shown here

I wanted the light and work to be affected by the motions of the viewer. Carrying the source of light means that the light is in constant motion and as it reflects off of the surface of the work the projected reflections as well as the shadows are also in constant motion.

SO I think this is a significant development – and although it seems a bit funny when I think about how someone new to the work might view it in a physical sense, I also think it will be quite fun.

So my objectives for the next week or so is to think of ways to present this light source to the viewer, look into how they may use this, carry it, interact with it and what the dangers of this might be (if there are any).

I also need to speak to Andy about how dark I can have the space in which I install my work and what restrictions I may face.

As for the actual sculptural materials – I am currently seeking advice on what can and cannot be laser-cut, what is flexible enough to be re-shaped or moulded after having been cut and how I might be able to mount/display these.

And finally – we have our Unit 1 assessment due in early December which is when we not only have to have a proto-type ready but also have an online curated page which illustrates how we have met the learning outcomes for that Unit. I’m pretty sure the curating part will not be too difficult in terms of finding content, but it will be tricky deciding which posts are most significant in conveying my developments. This will be the true test to see if all my tagging and categorisation was done well.

On an unrelated note but one that is concerning me is that I realised I didn’t put enough quotes in my essay. Actually I am shocked at the lack of them and can only imagine I was out of my mind at the time not to have done so. Now I just want to hurry up and know my marks so that I can stop worrying and move on.

Further experimentation

Posted November 8, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Inspiration, Sample work/designs/patterns

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Guess what?! For those who haven’t heard, we didn’t get to do our presentations in the end. Just a few minutes before we were about to start we were asked to evacuate the building because of a suspected gas leak. I swear it wasn’t a set-up 🙂

I wasn’t as prepared for my presentation as I would have liked to have been anyway (having been ill the night before) so maybe it was fate. We were not able to get back into the building for the rest of the day so I went home to finish my large reflective sheet cut-out.

Here are the pictures of the final stages of this:

Partially cut reflective card

Partially cut reflective card

cut-out pattern

Cutting completed - my A4 cutting mat looking very small in comparison to the A2 card

Layering reflective sheets

Here I layered the cut sheet on a regular sheet of reflective card - already the effect of the lighting can be seen on the wall next to it. I also like the fact that it looks like the reflection is coming from a pool of water

Projection with reflected light

By slightly curving the sheets the projected pattern forms wave-like shapes and also reflects the light at sharper angles. The layering combines the reflection of both the cut-out pattern as well as the blank sheet beneath

Layered projection

This time I placed the top sheet facing down - the effect creates a more solid pattern as this blocks the reflection from the bottom layer

I’m really pleased with how these reflected patterns have projected. My next mission is to find a way to animate the projection – if I can. The curved shape reminds me of waves or ripples and if I can get the sheet/s to move in a similar way then that would be really cool. I can just imagine some kind of handle that you would turn in a circle to get the wave into motion but I have no idea how I would build it. I guess its to do with mechanics and carpentry? I can imagine it being like an old wooden toy. However, it’s not a digital solution which is what I would prefer, but does it matter?

In my workshop this morning we looked into Arabesque, Islimi, biomorphic patterns. These terms are only slightly different in meaning but can generally refer to the same type of floral nature representative patterns. Adam Williamson (see his web site for an idea of his vast skills in this art, including hand-carved stone and murals :  http://www.adamwilliamson.com/)  is teaching this part of the short course. He  showed us a few slides of wave formations and diagrams that illustrate the movement of water behaving like a spinning spiral and the same can be seen in a vortex. He also showed us this video of Reuben Margolin who builds kinetic sculptures that recreate natural movements found in waves and even caterpillars: Maker profile of Reuben Margolin

Just a coincidence?

Nb: one of the first machines shown in the clip is the handle being turned to make the wave motion – that’s exactly what I was thinking!

Reuben Margolin - Kinetic sculptor

Still from video by Make Television on Reuben Margolin's Kinetic sculptures. Here you can see the wave in motion being turned using wooden handles

How am I going to make that? lol I think it would be a tad bit too ambitious to even go there. But I do need to keep thinking and experimenting to find alternative solutions…

Charles Avery and presentation prep

Posted November 3, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, experimentation, Inspiration, Research areas

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My presentation prep is as of yet nonexistent. However, I have decided that I could not bear to put anyone through me reading out the essay. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.

So what I need to do is highlight those points that I feel are most significant and important, make a page with all the images so that I can show those as I speak, and sort out a better organisation of the content. I looked through my essay earlier and realised I could have perhaps re-organised it for better reading. But then again that’s what happens when you keep going back and looking at the work you’ve already submitted and it being too late to make changes. ‘Tis not good for one’s stress levels.

The presentation is on Wednesday so an update will be up by the end of the week (IA).

Now to the work of Charles Avery. A kind friend from my saturday workshop sent me the link to the ‘Walking in my Mind’ exhibition site: http://walkinginmymind.southbankcentre.co.uk/html/exhibition as she found it very interesting to see some of the art works.

One of the artworks was the Untitled installation by Charles Avery which is very unusual and I couldn’t possibly explain it so here are the words from the exhibition site  (http://walkinginmymind.southbankcentre.co.uk/html/artists/view/charles):

Charles Avery creates drawings, charts, sculptures and texts that combine to form installations. Since 2004, his work has focused on a single, epic project, The Islanders, an encyclopaedic investigation of an imaginary island and everything it contains – its people, customs, mythology, topography, human history and bizarre natural history – as seen through the eyes of an anonymous explorer.

The image that caught my eye was that of the Eternity Chamber:

Eternity Chamber by Charles Avery

Untitled (Eternity Chamber), 2007 - by Charles Avery (Image taken from http://walkinginmymind.southbankcentre.co.uk web site)

Now, I’m sure if you have seen my recent posts you will recognise this set-up. It looks like that human kaleidoscope image with the kids playing around inside (see post Excitement begins). I like how the pattern has been placed above and below the mirrors to create the eternity of colourful triangles using a geometric grid. This is very close to an idea I was contemplating to create, except with my own patterns which have more detail and will possibly look much more complex when mirrored in such a way. I would also probably create it at a much smaller scale. But I still need to figure out how to build the thing! It’s cool to see this and the use of colours is something to consider.

So far I have kept my work black and white and I think I will continue to do so as the effect of light and shadows is very important. These effects are more visible in high contrasting colours such as black and white. But if I have time I might dabble in some coloured pieces – see how they look.

Workshop pattern

Posted October 29, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Sample work/designs/patterns

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The following images show the stages gone through in order to produce the final cut-out pattern seen at the end of this post. The steps in creating this classic 8-fold rosette tiling were set by Richard Henry in the Saturday workshop.

I completed this partly in the class itself following a worksheet he provided and then finished it off at home. I’m not even quite sure if I tiled the final stages correctly but I have to admit I am quite pleased with how it turned out 🙂


First few stages is getting the overall block shape of the Khattam down (two slightly rotated squares - one atop the other)


Using the shapes produced within the larger tile walls we found where the octagonal shape is formed, and then the 8-fold rosette within this (dashed lines)


At home I continued by re-producing the rosette in four other squares by tracing the orginal one to retain accuracy

Each stage was done on a new sheet of tracing paper as I like to preserve the stages. This also helps me to remember how I got from one stagee to another if I need to recreate it.


I then created thicker edges by adding two lines on the outer and inner sides of all existing lines that form the rosette petals. This adds a thick border to allow for a weave effect


Using another sheet of tracing paper I went over only the outer and inner lines but weaving each under and over the intersecting lines.

Detail of weaving - was a bit tricky at some points but still fun trying to figure it out

Detail of weave effect - was a bit tricky at some points but I really enjoyed figuring it out


I photocopied the final pattern and cut it out to create a stencil. This is the photocopied cut-out against a black background


I then used the stencil to draw and cut out a black sheet filled completely with the pattern


And this is the final black cut-out of the full pattern repeat. Can you see the cube that is formed in the centre?

A very busy few days but worth the effort.

Reflective light projection

Posted October 25, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Ideas for project outcome, Sample work/designs/patterns

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I wonder if the title depicts what I actually mean by it. Well images are always useful in these circumstances. I’ve been to the art shop recently and, as mentioned in a recent previous post, I decided to pursue the idea of using reflections. I found some reflective sheets of card (quite large A1 size) and had one placed on a box in my room lying flat but parallel to the wall. The light in my room was hitting off of the sheet and this was bounced/reflected on to the wall where it was casting some oddly shaped lines.

I then placed a cut-out pattern directly on to the reflective card – that was a good move. The card was slightly curved and as a result the light and pattern was also curved in its projective state on the wall.

Light reflected from card on to wall

Light reflected from card on to wall

I moved the sheet slightly higher and deepened the curve and the results changed too:

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

I was pleased to see how the small changes in the curves and placement of the card could create many variations of patterned shapes. This led to another few sample work ideas for installation pieces. These would probably be stand alone pieces as part of the wider range of work presented.

I then pulled some of the above photos in to Photoshop and experimented with colouring and was able to produce a hightened contrast by darkening the images and layering and rotating them. The light stands out better here and looks like a hologram or a laser display:

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

General Update on activities:
I have also been able to find some 3D geometric template sheets online to cut out and assemble. These are small and tricky to stick together but I managed to get them to hold for a few seconds while I took a couple of images. The really hard part will be figuring out how to apply a pattern to these shapes that has a similar underlying grid to the shapes they are made up from. For example for a dodecahedron there will need to be a construction with a pentagon tiling and for the icosahedron an equilateral triangle.

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/dodecahedron-model.html

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/dodecahedron-model.html



An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/icosahedron-model.html

An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/icosahedron-model.html

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

I may need to create a large-scale pattern on a large flat sheet first and then outline the template to cut out from this with correct placement and hope it sticks together right. In practice I will probably get it all wrong – still, no harm in trying.

Pattern-making workshop
I’ve joint a 10-week workshop where we are creating traditional Islamic patterns being taught by Richard Henry. He teaches with Birkbeck as well as with schools and also creates artwork himself. He was also taught by Keith Critchlow so I think we’re in good hands!

Richard’s worksheets are very easy to follow and start from basic circle formations to developing full pattern constructions. Some of the patterns are similar to those I’ve done already but Richard’s approach to constructing them seem easier and sometimes more practical. I wanted to take the class to see how things could be done perhaps with short-cuts or to make some of the stages quicker with ‘best-practice’. Many a handy tips have been passed on already. It has also affirmed some of the general things I’ve picked up about pattern-making and the things I need to be aware of (for example I thought it was just me when my compass would slightly alter itself). All in all I’m really enjoying it.

To have a look at some of Richard Henry’s work visit his web site: http://www.richardhenry.info/

Gender, War and Chadors – by Canvas magazine at the British Museum

Posted October 20, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Research areas

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This panel discussion on the topic of ‘Gender, War and Chadors’ in relation to Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, took place on Monday 12th October.

The panel consisted of three professionals with relevant experience and interest in this genre of art: Saleh Barakat (Curator and Gallerist, Lebanon), Rose Issa ( Independent Curator, Lebanon and Iran) and Dr Venetia Porter (Senior Curator of Islamic and contemporary Middle Eastern Art at The British Museum). This panel was moderated by Dr Anthony Downey (Programme Director, MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art).

For official information andbackground into on the panellists please view this link from the Canvas Magazine site: http://www.canvasonline.com/gwac2.htm

The audience was an interesting mix of curators, researchers, critics and artists.

The talk lasted an hour and addressed issues that have cropped up for me during my research in the last year. Some of the issues mentioned were the lack of investments in Middle Eastern Art, it’s identity and how it is different to Islamic Art, why it is not considered as contemporary art when it should be and why it is usually grouped as ‘Middle-Eastern’ and sometimes ‘Islamic’ art when this is sometimes clearly a confining label or even a mistaken label for the work in question.

Here are a few notes I took. Some of this may be direct quotes or my own extension of what was said by one of the panellists:

– Defining the Middle-East as a region is becoming the subject being discussed rather than the work itself. It seems to be a Western pre-occupation. Whereas people within the Middle-Easter don’t think about it that much and sometimes not at all.

– There seems to be a problem with the local and regional infrastructure in the Middle-East which is causing a slow movement of work and communication. The knowledge is not travelling. Whether this is in terms of publishing work/writings or in trying to set up an exhibition – it takes much longer and much more effort compared to London and other European or US cities.

– Middle-Eastern art is not being taught anywhere as a comprehensive subject. You can learn the European classics anywhere, but there is no recognised institution where you could say straight off your head, for example for  ‘where a PhD in Middle-Eastern art’ should be completed, there certainly is nowhere to do this in the Middle-East. Dr Venetia Porter said that she is approached by many students asking where she would recommend they continue further studies in this subject. SOAS was mentioned as a good place as it covers the languages and culture studies.

Once the talk was finished I managed to grab some apple juice, munch some olives and a few minutes of Dr Venetia Porter’s time. A very nice and friendly lady, she was very encouraging about further studies in the contemporary Islamic art field. I mentioned my project for the Visual Arts MA I am doing and she was glad to hear that I had found a way to combine contemporary art practice with traditional creative methods from the Islamic world. As she had mentioned the lack of postgraduate courses that suit this area I was able to say that this is my way of dealing with that problem. As it happens I think my situation could not be more ideal. I have managed to set the objectives of my project to suit both the learning outcomes of the course syllabus as well as my own goals of producing contemporary Islamic art.

I departed with a smile on my face and the encouragement from Dr Venetia Porter spurring me on.

More patterns

Posted October 15, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: experimentation, Sample work/designs/patterns

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I have a tendency to say too much so this time I am just going to add a load of pictures of my latest pattern-making endeavours. The images below are the initial stages of creating a pattern to be used for some of my sculptural experiments. You will see the stages I go through from start to finish.

Using my favourite book and following the instructions as layed out in Islamic Design: Genius in Geometry by Daud Sutton

Using my favourite book and following the instructions in Islamic Design: Genius in Geometry by Daud Sutton

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

Using the new cut-out to trace a repeated/tiling pattern on to large black sheet of paper

Using the new cut-out to trace a repeated/tiling pattern on to large black sheet of paper

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

Sample of the final version - white sheet beneath the black to show the cut-out pattern

Sample of the final version - white sheet beneath the black to show the cut-out pattern

Placing the photocopied stencil within the lampshade to trace the pattern

Placing the photocopied and slightly altered stencil of full pattern within the lampshade to trace. This will then be cut out, again, by hand.

More images will be added soon to show the final stages of this process.

Excitement begins

Posted October 3, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Assessments/reviews, Ideas for project outcome, Inspiration

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I am experiencing a surge of brainstorming (I am told this is no longer a P.C word but I can’t remember what the new term is so no offence to anyone) in relation to the work I must complete by December for my assessment.

We’ve been told we should have something along the lines of a proto-type complete for that stage in our course but with all these new and exciting ideas I want to have more than just one project outcome.

I am very excited about creating the physical pieces that reflect the research I’ve been doing for the last year and have been particularly thinking about the space in which my work will be displayed,shown or installed.

There are many different ways a person can present their work and these have inspired me to think of all alternatives – not just as Plan B’s in case my main work doesn’t turn out how I wish but also as accompaniments.

At the moment I am contemplating having 3d shapes with patterns either on, around or made up from the patterns. It’s hard to explain this so I’ll leave it to when I have some pictures once I get experimenting with the shapes.

I have been doing some very bad sketches in my notebook in order to consider how lighting needs to be placed within a rectangular room for example. There also the need to consider where a person might enter from and how they may navigate through the space according to what first comes into their sight. This is very important because I am planning to have my work illuminate itself based on the viewer’s movement into the space. They need to be able to see where to go for safety reasons but it also needs to be dark enough for the light to make the right kind of effect when it comes on. I also need to consider if my work will be one large focul piece or made up of three or four pieces.

Page 1 of sketches and notes

Page 1 of sketches and notes

Page 2 of sketches and ideas

Page 2 of ideas

These sculptures/shapes also need to fit to either the walls, floor or ceiling but with the light source either pointing towards or from behind them. Once again I won’t know which is best till I try it out. The light source itself is also something I am looking closely into. In my last tutorial Andy and I discussed sensor activated lighting and he agreed this may be the right thing for me to use. I’ve had a look at PIR lighting products and am trying to find something wireless which would be less of a safety concern as well as less shabby looking once up. Pricing is also a factor and how it might be fitted to walls/ceilings.

Another really cool idea I had was to have a sort of very large 3d hollow shape, perhaps made from card or papier mache (or maybe something a bit like stiff canvas or whatever is used to make lampshades), hanging from the ceiling but high enough off the ground to allow someone to pass under it. As they would come closer it would light up and then they would be standing beneath it. When they look up into the work they would see layers of shapes cut into the material and these would overlap so that the shadows and holes would create an ever complicated pattern. What I imagine in my head certainly looks quite spectacular. I wonder if I can actually achieve it.

It reminds me of the Muqarnas found in many mosques around the world, some of the most famous being at the Al-Hambra in Spain and at the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, Iran as seen in the image below. It is a very interesting architectural feature which I will just show you instead of trying to explain:

Muqarnas at the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Image from http://www.musliminventionsthailand.com

Muqarnas at the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Image from http://www.musliminventionsthailand.com

And yet at the same time what I have imagined also reminds me of a kaleidoscope. As my youngest sister was sitting next to me as I jotted this down I asked her if she knew what a Kaleidoscope was. She’s ten years old and, well, her generation is quite different to mine so I can well imagine that they aren’t likely to be as familiar with a non-electronic/digital toy such as a good old kaleidoscope. And I was right, she didn’t know what it was so I did a quick search and had a look through google images as I explained it to her. I then came across this very interesting image of a human mirrored kaleidoscope:

These kids are clearly having fun, and it means they are engaging with the space too. The effect is brilliant and I think if I could adopt this in some way but have my patterns in there too then it would just be sooo good. But I’m not sure if it would be over ambitious for me to go down this route, least of all because I’d have to actually build an enclosed space with mirrors inside. Or maybe I could make a cheap and tatty/plasticky version? We’ll see. But the use of mirrors is certainly worth keeping in mind.

All in all I am really getting into this and I knew it would be the stage I would enjoy the most. I may be thinking about some of the aspects of the installation a little to early but this is how I have always worked – I like to get down to the nitty gritty much in advance so that I have contingency time as well as other work in place if needed.

Jameel Prize 2009 – V&A

Posted September 30, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Artists, Inspiration, Research areas

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N.B – I started writing this post on 23 August 09 but due to the essay, finishing and publishing this was delayed.

Surfing the net I discovered that the V&A had opened a small gallery with work on display from the finalists of it’s Jameel Prize 2009. You may have heard of the famous Jameel Gallery which holds some of the world’s most famous Islamic artefacts. This prize is supported by the same guy who commissioned the Jameel gallery:

The Jameel Prize is a new international art prize launched by the V&A and supported by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. The Prize will be awarded to a contemporary artist or designer for work inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design. (Taken from V&A’s site: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/jameel_prize/index.html)

So on Wednesday (19-08-09) I went along to take a closer look.

Firstly we come across some of the other nominated work. The most eye-catching being Le Salon by Hassan Hajjaj.

It appeared that the corner of a cafe had been cut out from some foreign arab town and planted in the middle of the gallery. The vibrant colours made it stand out and the combination of prints on different textures encouraged an exploration of the ‘environment’. On close inspection I noted the Louis Vuitton covers on the seats sewn to the top of tin containers. As with every other object in this ‘salon’, the seats, tables shelf unit, all were made from everyday items. Most of which are heavily branded. It reminds me of Pakistan where, for some reason, nearly every bit of outside space is covered with advertisement and branding of popular products such as Coca-cola and Pepsi.

Le Salon by Hassan Hajjaj

Le Salon by Hassan Hajjaj

On the sign next to this peice installation it said ‘Interactive Installation, Multimedia’ I was a bit confused by this because having sat on the seats and moved around the objects I could not see nor hear anything happening in response to my movements. Later it came to me that perhaps what was meant by ‘multimedia’ was the traditional concept of multiple mediums in use. And the ‘interactive’ element was perhaps the fact that you are able to sit within the environment created by the work and are able to move some of the objects around.

Having studied a BSc in Multimedia I had developed my own understanding and opinion of what Multimedia is but only after coming across varied definitions and interpretations from researchers and practitioners alike. From what I have read and seen most people would regard multimedia to consist of either digital or electronic content that responds to an action. Therefore it is reactive to it’s surroundings or to something that is done to it.

In this example I believe that the term multimedia was referring to the combined elements of print, graphics, photography, textiles and crafts that were used. Nevertheless, I think it fulfilled the interactive purpose it was intended for as, visitors felt able to sit and take pictures on the provided seating.

Next was a large piece that was very familiar to me. I had seen it at the Word into Art exhibition in Dubai a few years ago. Ana by Susan Hefuna is a wooden structure made from pieces that form a pattern in its structure. Seeing from my picture this peice also plays with the light and dark with shadows being cast by the breaks in the patterns formed by the joint pieces. The combination of arabic text and pattern make this a memorable artwork for me.

Ana by Susan Hefuna

Ana by Susan Hefuna

Moving round the gallery there is a selection of different mediums in use and all with different themes too. It gives a clear impression that there are artists who are using their specialist areas of skill allowing them to create their artforms in unique styles.

A great example of this is the work of Sevan Biçakçi a Turkish Jewellery Designer. In this collection we have 5 rings which look very ornate from the regular viewing distance. However, on closer inspection (and you can only really get so close because these have been encased behind a glass enclosure) you can see that the large gem/stones that form the centre-piece of each ring actually holds something within. One looks to be the famous mosques of Istanbul, the colourful domes being the notables features of the buildings. The rings are quite large but it still must have been a painstaking process to create the miniature scenes on an within the rings.

Two of the five rings at the V&A by Sevan Bicakci

Two of the five rings at the V&A by Sevan Bicakci - Image from Nafas art magazine: http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2009/jameel_prize_2009/images/07_sevan_bicakci

Another of the rings looks to be painted with the tiniest of mosaic murals – and if you look closely you can make out the image of a figure within this. The accuracy and detail is quite amazing and makes this entry more fun to gaze at just because you’ll be trying to spot something new. For detailed images and more information about Sevan Biçakçi you can visit his website at http://www.sevanbicakci.com/

The next entry was a recognisable name from the stylistic features of the medium you may also recognise a familiarity in it (see older post in which Abbas’s ‘Paper plates’ were mentioned: https://qunud.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/routes-waterhouse-dodd/). Hamra Abbas’ ‘Please do not step’ was stuck to the floor with an angular pesperctive to give the impression it was projected from above. It was position between the two rooms that make up the gallery and so it was impossible to pass through without stepping on the words spelt out by tiny peices of paper.

Please Do Not Step by Hamra Abbas

Please Do Not Step by Hamra Abbas

The words were constructed with Islamic patterns made from the tuck together pieces of paper, linked to form geometric shapes. On these papers were the words ‘Please Do Not Step: Loss of a Magnificent Story.’ repeated continuously. Looking on Abbas’s web site you can see that she has actually used the same method and medium in her other works and these have been presented in galleries in different ways. I still like the idea of all the small pieces being used to create a larger overall work.

Next to be mentioned is Seher Shah’s Jihad Pop. This is a massive wall piece framed behind glass but completed as a print on a very large paper. The detail is immense and the content slightly overwhelming. Taking the work in as a whole is almost impossible as you cannot see all the details from one vantage point. You can however, appreciate the work that has gone into it. You can also gauge that there are a few different topics being expressed within the peice. Firstly there is the perspective provided by architectural elements. There is then the geometric shapes that come through from this and the obvious cube formations which having been coloured black are reminiscent of the Kaaba (place of Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca and the direction to where we face when praying). Then there are all the smaller petal like shapes that conjoined look like a swarm clouding around different parts of the image.

Jihad Pop Progression 4 - Interior Courtyard 1 - by Seher Shah

Jihad Pop Progression 4 - Interior Courtyard 1 - by Seher Shah (image from http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2009/jameel_prize_2009/images/14_seher_shah)

After walking from one end to the other a couple of times I then noticed some Arabic within the details around the Kaaba. This was  ‘Bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-raheem’ which translates to ‘In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful’. This is a very well known sentence from the Qur’an which is mentioned at the start of every new chapter. It is also used regularly as an invocation by Muslims on a daily basis before performing any act (mundane or otherwise).

As there are no human figures, or any un-Islamic elements to this work, the inclusion of the above sentence says to me ‘This is Islamic Art’. With a lot of other peices in the gallery there is a link or connection to perhaps an aesthetic familiar in Islamic Art or the cultures connected to Islamic countries. But this work displays the Kaaba as well as holy words from the Qur’an. On top of this, the piece is named Jihad Pop. Jihad is an Arabic term that translates to ‘struggle’, be this internal or external. What struggles is Shah referring to? The ones faced in Islamic countries? Or by Muslims in the West?

There is a slight chaotic nature to the piece and perhaps that was intentional. Is it an indication of how Islam is misunderstood? Or maybe it is the artist’s personal reflection of it?

Regardless of reading too much into the work – I do like this piece a lot. It incorporates many different stylistic features which seem both organic and synthetic at the same time but don’t conflict with eachother.

Now on to the winning piece – 1001 Pages. When I described this to a fellow student/friend at uni she knew why this was significant. The work, on the surface, sounds very similar to what I wanted to create myself at some stage of this project, if not as the final outcome.

1001 Pages by Afruz Amighi

1001 Pages by Afruz Amighi

Some of the similarities are the use of:

  • Light
  • Shadow
  • Patterns
  • Projection

‘1001 Pages’   is made from a thin sheet of white plastic which actually seems like fabric (this sheeting is used for making tents) that has been hand-cut by a stencil burner and hung from the ceiling. It is quite large and so comes down close to ground level.

It greatly reminds me of the windows and archways found in mosques and palaces that have cut-out designs for letting light and air in – similar to what you see in the image below taken at the Grand Mosque in Muscat:

Decorative window - Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

Decorative window - Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

The design that has been cut into the sheet is a combination of geometric shapes, vegetal patterns, birds and arched windows with further patterns within. A light is then projected through the sheet to produce a replica on the wall directly behind. The shadows cast from the patterns and intricate details that have been cut produce a lovely mirror image of light playing with dark. Opposites in colour as well as atmosphere – light contrasted to dark creates some brilliant effects.

Afruz Amighi created her work as a static piece – although with it hanging in midair you wonder if a slight breeze coming through the hall will have an interesting affect on the shadows being cast on the wall.

Detail of 1001 Pages - by Afruz Amighi

Detail of 1001 Pages - by Afruz Amighi (image from http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2009/jameel_prize_2009)

This winning piece is probably an ideal example of where Islamic art has evolved. It is a contemporary piece that utilises current technology but combines hand-crafted skills too with the traditional look of Islamic patterns as used to decorate buildings and ornaments throughout it’s history. The combination of the two allow for the work to also seem timeless but with the added knowledge that geometric patterns go beyond cultural associations because it has a connection with universal aesthetics – i.e. nature and proportion, golden ratio, etc. Then there is the fact that this work could be termed as ‘digital art’ and is moving with the trends – keeping up with the latest form of artistic expression or perhaps just presentation. Whatever the purpose, it doesn’t detract from the look and feel that is generated, if anything it seems approriate to have a projector within a gallery space. And a gallery space which is dedicated to current art work rather than antiques. Islamic Art is alive and thriving!

And to prove this I am aiming to create an installation that is interactive, so hopefully with the incorporation of my chosen design and technical elements the work will be of interest to those viewing it, and possibly fun too. And as we all know this should make it more memorable too.

For more information about the Jameel Prize please visit the official V&A page: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/jameel_prize/index.html

And for further imagery and reviews please see Nafas Art Magazine’s article: http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2009/jameel_prize_2009/

Essay is done – or is it?

Posted September 28, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: Essay and/or related to, Self-reflection

I think I’ve finished my essay but I have this uneasy feeling that it could be better. Actually I know it could be  but I’ve already done wayyy too much and I am in danger of turning it into a book, maybe not a bestseller but still a book.

Admittedly the first couple of thousands of words are mostly to do with historical background, the rise of Islamic art and its early influences. This is the part that I’m not sure about in terms of writing style. I seem to find it easier to do descriptive and analytical writing rather than structuring historical facts in an interesting way. I know what’s it’s like to be bored from reading things and I wouldn’t want to be the cause of it for someone else.

The rest of the essay is focussed on the rise or emergence of contemporary art in the Middle East and the rest of the world. I have divided Islamic art into four categories and then go on to discuss the work of four artists/practitioners, each of whom fits one of the categories.

I would love to get the essay proof-read by someone but not only is there not much time (it’s due tomorrow I think) but I also know that it’s a lot to ask of someone. Too late now anyway.

Anyway, although it was hard to get off the ground at first, once I knew what I was doing I really enjoyed conducting research for this paper. I could happily continue in this subject and explanding my ideas for the rest of the year whilst producing the practical side of the projects outcome.

Calligraphy results

Posted September 13, 2009 by bonzaibondo
Categories: related in some way

I found out the results of the short course I completed a few months ago in Naskh script – Arabic calligraphy (which I mentioned in a previous post: Arabic Calligraphy – final curtain)

I got 60 out of 100. I think that’s a pretty fair mark for the effort I put in and my hand-in for the final piece. I probably would have been disheartened if I got anything lower than that though. According to general academic grading that’s just about a B grade so I’m happy with that.

My next practical short course may be starting in a few weeks but I don’t want to elaborate till the ball is rolling so more to come on that (InshAllah).