Archive for the ‘Ideas for project outcome’ category

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.

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!

————-

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!