Archive for the ‘Ideas for project outcome’ category

Update – nearing the end

July 12, 2010

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.

Special edition catalogues – in collaboration with Susan Mortimer

June 29, 2010

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.

DIY and needing bolts.

June 26, 2010

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.

More MDF cut

June 16, 2010

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!

OpenCV with external camera – check

June 9, 2010

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

June 5, 2010

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

May 20, 2010

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.

Not so quick update

April 26, 2010

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

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

And the rhombitruncatedicosidodecahedron:

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 :)

Pat7_Splash

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

April 7, 2010

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

March 14, 2010

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!