Archive for the ‘Ideas for project outcome’ category

Charles Avery and presentation prep

November 3, 2009

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

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

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

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

One of the artworks was the Untitled installation by Charles Avery which is very unusual and I couldn’t possibly explain it so here are the words from the exhibition site  (

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

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

Eternity Chamber by Charles Avery

Untitled (Eternity Chamber), 2007 - by Charles Avery (Image taken from web site)

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

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

Reflective light projection

October 25, 2009

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

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

Light reflected from card on to wall

Light reflected from card on to wall

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

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

Twisted projection of pattern with reflected light

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

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

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

Digitally manipulated image from reflective light series

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

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from

Flat template of for making a dodecahedron - printed from



An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from

An icosahedron prior to assembly - printed from

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

Icosahedron - just before it fell apart

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

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

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

To have a look at some of Richard Henry’s work visit his web site:

More patterns

October 15, 2009

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

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

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

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Continuing stages as the pattern takes shape

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

Final stages before tiling - hand cutting parts if the pattern

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

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

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

Cutting out the full pattern from the black paper

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

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

Placing the photocopied stencil within the lampshade to trace the pattern

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

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

Excitement begins

October 3, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Page 1 of sketches and notes

Page 1 of sketches and notes

Page 2 of sketches and ideas

Page 2 of ideas

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

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

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

Muqarnas at the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Image from

Muqarnas at the Imam Mosque in Isfahan, Iran. Image from

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

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

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

Tutorial – notes and ideas stemmed

June 8, 2009

Date of tutorial: 03/06/09

Tutor: Jonathan Kearney

It’s been a while since my last tutorial so it’s interesting to see my blog posts being looked at from the perspective of someone who visits after a while and basically catches up with what I’ve been doing.

Jonathan asked about my recent activities and I gave him an overall summary similar to the update in my previous post. He then asked me about various subjects such as Arabic calligraphy and whether this can be used in m project. Something you may be aware I have considered a while back. He suggested I experiment even if it doesn’t go to plan. At least that way I can learn from the experience and progress through it knowing I gave it a shot. I guess by giving all your ideas a chance to formulate and be tried out means there’s less chance of regret later.

Jonathan also reminded me to check out his write-up on the uni wiki about reflective blog writing and showed me some of the bullet points that would be good for me to use in assessing my older posts. The intention would be for me to question myself about how/what I was thinking at the time of writing the post and compare that to how/what I’m thinking/feeling now. Have I changed my views on certain subjects? Do I feel the same about them?

We also discussed the requirements for the essay which although not due till September is still something I need to start focussing on. It’s a 5,000 word essay about contextualising my project. I think I had difficulty in understanding what exactly this meant when I first started this course. And people use the word ‘contextualising’ aaaall the time at uni (no exaggeration). I think it’s one of those words that means a lot and does a good job in getting a point across but is sometimes used to fill gaps in explaining an artist’s thoughts on their own work and where it fits. So it’s handy and vague enough to be used all over the place.

My understanding (now that I’ve also discussed it with Johnathan) is that it’s about looking at what’s going on in the world or the circle of work around you and seeing where you or your work belongs. This could be from any perspective really and can sometimes be very subjective but where (like in this essay) you have to address it for formal writing you need to be quite objective. You also need to acknowledge that there might not be an allocated slot waiting for you to park yourself and your work in. Or there might be one but it’s over crowded. Or what if you have to make your own patch of grass in the field? Whatever you do you have to back it up. And so I need to think of a relevant subject to discuss.

I could do something that looks at contemporary middle eastern art – especially as I did the lengthy posts about the Unveiled exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. But I think I’ve drained myself on that subject. There really are so many possibilities and subjects I could cover so I’m going to give myself a few days to really think about it.

Our mini deadline is for June 22nd by which time we must provide our tutors with a title, abstract and bibliography. I better get my skates on.

So overall we had a good discussion about project ideas that I can experiment with and subjects I could consider for my writing. Below I have typed out the actual notes I took during the tutorial:

Maybe write a reflective summary on each point discussed previously in for example the Saatchi post.

Or for example after completing one task think about it at a deeper level – How did I feel about this? Did it fulfill it’s goal? Was I frustrated? If yes then why? If not then why not? Does it mean enough to me?

Refer to content on wiki about reflective blog writing

Possibilities of using Arabic calligraphy in my work – why not experiment?

Digital surface has no limit in terms of scale so could zoom in on detailed work

Using existing ideas of fragmented parts making a whole, how about words within words within words so that as you keep zooming they appear just as the first word did to start with. Would this then be only calligraphic text or normal arabic writing? Both are very different – maybe they could be combined?

Is there software that can produce an outline and then fill the shape of the word with other words provided? Maybe it could be created?

The word Allah (swt) repeated within itself has strong metaphorical message.

If it doesn’t work then so be it. You’ll learn something from the experience anyway. Then the reflective questions come into play and you go through the process of fully understanding how that experimentation made a difference to the project as a whole.

It could be interesting to look back at the Saatchi post now and ask myself about what I wrote and why I wrote with focus on certain aspects.

Essay abstract (roughly 200-300 words), title and bibliography are due 22nd June!!

Contextualising – understanding where you stand. Could be saying ‘this is one angle and this is another’

It is important to be objective and know what’s going on around you even if you don’t like it.

Electronic circuits, Arduino and others

May 27, 2009

It must seem like I’ve been quiet recently but I have been doing stuff. ‘Stuff’ is probably the best word to use here because it is encompasses quite a varied group of ‘things’ as a description.

Here’s a break down of my recent activities:

Reading Digital Arts, by Christiane Paul: I was actually supposed to have done this at the start of the academic year as it was listed as ‘recommended reading’ but no one really does that right?

More Pattern making: some were failures – I started giving in and doing my own thing again but I pulled back and said ‘No Sara you must follow the rules’ so I went back to using my handy Islamic Design book and did some new patterns.

Remember doing this in school?

Remember doing this in school?

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

This one had potential but then I didn't like the way it was going

Another naughty pattern

Another naughty pattern

It’s always frustrating trying to get the lines, angles and circles in the right places but I persevered. Now I have some new patterns to work with to create some more laser cut panels. I want to do more complicated patterns to really experiment with light and shadow effects.

Back to following the rules

Back to following the rules

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Underlying grid is easy to see in this image which looks quite interesting as a whole

Hand cut pattern in black card

Hand cut pattern in black card

I’m pleased with this (above image) – even though it looks quite simple it took a while to get to that stage. The star shaped flowers are not accurate at all but I’ll be fixing that up when I make a digital version using Photoshop and Illustrator. I will probably add more detail to the larger shapes though, as I think details look better when enlarged with a light source on a wall – almost like a projection.Using this hand cut method allows me to get a rough idea of what the laser cut design will look like in mdf.

Visiting the Library: I rarely go to the library anymore. Not because I don’t like reading or even just looking at the pictures in books but because I prefer to have my own copies. That way I know I won’t find any unusual stains in between the pages, nor will I have to worry about returning it in time in order to avoid a fine. Anyway so back to the story at hand – I decided that forking out £26 for ‘Physical Computing’ by Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Igoe, was slightly beyond my current budget and it would make sense to just go and borrow it. So off I went to LCC and I’m glad to say no stains have been discovered as yet.

I’ll write a review on both books at some point.

Electronics/Arduino board workshop: Leon, a current Camberwell PhD student was doing this workshop for us last Wednesday (20th May). A brief overview of how it works was provided, as well as some useful links ( I spent a good amount of time trying to familiarise myself with the different parts of the boards whilst putting together a set for infra-red detecion. Had to look up different types of resistors, transistors, and all those kinds of bits and bobs to make sure I was putting the right ones in the right places.

Arduino board image from

Arduino board image from

We then moved on to testing Isaac’s (fellow student: motor circuit which had a light sensitive resistor attached to it. This set was programmed to turn on an LED and start a motor faster or slower according to the light detected by it. The code looks quite similar to PHP and other complicated programming languages that I really need to start learning at some point. Or maybe I think they are complicated because getting to know it better is something I keep putting off and is almost my excuse for delaying the process?

Getting to know a circuit

Getting to know a circuit

My fear of learning this new but potentially hard stuff is not greater than my wanting to complete my project to a high standard.

With the good comes the bad

April 24, 2009

…ok maybe not always but sometimes and certainly in this case. We’ve had half the carpet put in the house now; this includes my room and the two loft rooms that we added a few months ago.

It means I can finally move my stuff from storage back into my room and stop living out of bags. The down side is that I actually liked living up in the loft with the sun shining through the skylights. It meant that I was able to work with natural light for longer and also because there was no carpet I could do as much spray painted canvas art as I liked without worrying where it might disperse.

laser cut mdf stencil

laser cut mdf stencil

Using the MDF stencil that I had laser cut from my pattern a few weeks ago (above), I’ve created a new canvas piece. It’s been a bit difficult to decide when the painting is finished because it has a layered effect and I could just keep going but there’s always a risk that the next layer might make it look less pleasing to me.

I’ve stopped it here – I received some good feedback from family and friends so far:

16x16 canvas

16x16 canvas

Canvas close-up

Canvas close-up

The painting has a sort of pastelly/chalky effect with the spraying having gone a bit blurry at the edges of the patterns but this also allowed for a gradient fade effect where I’ve got two colours merging. I added white beneath the blue as an outline shadow effect to make the blue standout more clearly against the green. I think the bright colours work well together here. Originally it was just white on green and it looked too stark. So then I added the blues and yellows and I think it looks much better like that.

So yeh now I’m in a bit of a pickle because I want to do more of these but other than doing it on the pavement outside my home (clearly not ideal) there aren’t many more options. At uni there are limited rooms and although I could use the old play-ground or parking area I wouldn’t want to ship all my things there – I would need a minivan! Even then it would be useless as I’m only ever in once a week and would be left doing tiny bits at a time.


Bad timing

February 19, 2009

Well this is a quick update about how my prototype is going so far. I have loads of pictures that I wanted to upload about the process of the making, but I feel so drained these days I can’t be bothered.

The wiring, soldering, cutting, neatening, arranging is just so time consuming! I’ve used up all my wire and have had to order some more. I’ve also had to order the batteries from abroad as they are cheaper and also some switches which I have a feeling are too big but I can’t find smaller ones anywhere. These will take a while to get here.

To make matters a little worse is the fact that I will be going on holiday tomorrow and well, I was hoping to have at least got part of the prototype working by then. Although I am disappointed by this, I feel like I really need the holiday, not just because of the increase of work in making this prototype but also because of recent overworking at the office and also taking on extra classes.

I felt this more than anything today as I decided to go check out the ‘Unveiled’ exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery. I will be writing a full report on this in a couple weeks as it will be a long one and I need to upload and organise the photos I took. I spent around an hour and a half walking around looking closely at the pieces, deciding if I liked them and if not/so then why and taking decent photos of almost everything. I felt so tired but carried on anyway knowing I probably wouldn’t get the opportunity to do this again for a while. Anyway, I got home and flipped through the brochure (for which I had to pay £1.50!) and realised I missed the work on the whole of the lower ground floor. Was not well pleased at this point.

Anyway so the weather here isn’t exactly the best and I so yearn for a bit of sunshine and warmth. I know it’s not cost effective because my purse strings aren’t holding much within but I deserve a treat right?

Muscat should be very scenic from what I’ve seen and heard so far. I am planning to take my camera along and snap away to my hearts content. I’m also hoping to get some shopping done and scout out some local art galleries and check out the local mosques, for not only spiritual but aesthetic pleasure.

There’s also a stopover in Dubai but as I’ve been twice before it serves more of a practical purpose (visiting family friends and bargain hunting) rather than the usual holidaying.

I will therefore not be posting anything for at least a week but shall give a full update when I get back Inshallah (God willing).

Another idea

January 16, 2009

I’ve been thinking about how I can take my experimentation and pattern-making to the next level. I have my mid-point review coming up in March and need to start making some significant progress otherwise I won’t be making the most of it. Plus the way I see it, the more work I do now the more I can develop my ideas and learn from my mistakes and early prototyping which should then lead to something much stronger at the end.

In the next few weeks I’m planning to make a small interactive installation which basically consists of a circuit of lights (LEDs) on a grid where the user can switch them on and off to then produce a pattern. The control of the lights would be through another grid of buttons that correspond with the lights on the other board. Each button would control the corresponding lights – turning them on or off.

I was trying to imagine how the user would react to this piece. Would they know what to do with the buttons/lights? Or would they need to be told. Then I realised that the user is not going to have a clue what this grid of lights is and will just start playing with it. What if they create any type of image out of the lights, random doodles, shapes, anything? Why would they assume it had anything to do with patterns? And how would I restrict their use of the device and therefore make it related to my actual subject of Islamic patterns?

Well, whilst discussing the practicalities of making the piece with Kenji (full time student) who knows a bit about electronics, I realised there was a way to not only restrict the user from doing something completely of their own accord, but also make them aware of some characteristics that make up an Islamic pattern. I don’t want to give the game away just yet though as I want my fellow students to figure it out for themselves when it comes to the mid-point review. I’m hoping to have this ready by then.

I’m really looking forward to this! Let’s just hope that it actually works when the time comes!

Eye of the Tiger

January 11, 2009

I hope my titles are not misleading people to view my posts for the wrong reasons lol – I just like to make them a little interesting.

Ok so Mission started and partly accomplished. I said I wouldn’t post anything until I had created some patterns and well I can’t say I finished a whole pattern but I spent at least a couple hours just doing the base work for one.

I’m quite surprised that it took as long as it did actually – just to create the grid. I took photos using my mobile (my proper camera is somewhere in a box, somewhere in my dishevelled house) so they’re not that great but the aim was to document the process.

The bare necessities

The bare necessities

Ok so I was using large (A3) squared paper so that I would be able to keep my straight lines accurate.
I used 5cm as my radius and started drawing circles from the centre of the page outwards. This method has been demonstrated in Islamic Design: A Genius for Geometry by Daud Sutton, and is supposed to be the traditional approach to creating Islamic geometric patterns. If you’ve read my Project justification then you’ll know why this is important to me. As it isn’t my usual method I thought I’d give it a go and see where it takes me.

Ok so the circles start overlapping as seen below:

circles overlapping but spreading too

circles overlapping but spreading too

I then carried on until I had filled the whole page with the circles:


As you can see this has created a tessellated effect simply with the construction of circles. After this I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to do next. I misplaced my book 😦 and so I played it by ear – well tried to remember what I had read in the book anyway. As I’ve said before I havn’t got access to my stuff.

So then I started connecting the mid points of each circle – creating horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines – a sub grid.

This produced another set of shapes on the sub grid of lines not just the circles. I’m not sure that the vertical lines were correct but it looked ok so I carried on:

Adding lines

Adding lines

I looked closely at the page (which was a bit mesmerising) and picked out shapes that I liked the look of. I usually do this in the creation of my pattern work. Breaking down shapes using lines and particular measurements and then seeing what new shapes are created. In the close up below you can see some of these smaller shapes within shapes which were created simply by the addition of the straight lines. I would now need to consider which shapes I would choose to highlight and use in the pattern and which ones would perhaps form a subtle background to the main pattern.

The shapes!

The shapes

Ok so I think this process was useful. The main thing that I found difficult was the accuracy! Even though I made sure the compass stayed at the same radius throughout, and that the connecting lines and dots and movement from one circle to another was the right place, there were still wider spaces between shapes than there should have been. The most annoying thing I found was the compass kept slipping!!! this was highly irritating and meant I had to rub out bits here and there.

But it’s been a learning process and I need to do this a lot more so I know how to neaten up my grids and start doing different kinds of patterns. I am really looking forward to the next stages of these experiments.

Now I really need to find that book!!