Archive for the ‘Ideas for project outcome’ category

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.

Practical solutions

March 3, 2010

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

March 2, 2010

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!

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BeatBearing and more electronics!

February 20, 2010

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!

Ico(ne)sahedron

December 3, 2009

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

prototype

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

November 29, 2009

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

November 29, 2009

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

November 18, 2009

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

November 16, 2009

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

November 8, 2009

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…