Archive for the ‘experimentation’ 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.

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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.

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!

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!

Pyramids

March 5, 2010

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:

Pyramids!

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.