Final: Reflection

Subdermal Currents is a group made up of some very creative individuals who have all had a lot of experiences prior to coming into this elective, experiences in design and in life. This opened up great potential, as we all had so many ideas and opinions to offer, but equally we were faced with responding to a different way of thinking to that of our own.

I like to think that I am aware of my capabilities within group work, and know that I make a conscious effort to keep work equal and enable everyone’s contributions. However, this can be difficult when not everyone shares the same level of awareness and the group balance becomes askew. As a VisCom student, we don’t engage in much group work that entails creative compromise and I’m not sure either about how other students in different disciplines feel about this. Sometimes in order to move forward someone in the group has to take charge for the sake of making decisions and making progress, and I think we all agreed it is a difficult position to be in.

However, in this specific group project I didn’t feel as though there was an individual that took control, rather it felt as though the four of us were all travelling along separate lines. These lines ran parallel to each other for a majority of the project, and while there were some occasions when a variation of these lines intersected, sometimes in groups of 2 or 3, I don’t believe that all 4 converged into 1 until close to the end of the project. For example, our group spent a significant amount of time on research, with each of us researching different topics. When we presented what we had found to each other, there wasn’t one person who decided for us which research to follow, rather we acknowledged everyones work and continued on with our own. However, this was not a bad thing as by the end of the project we had articulated a great idea and with more time this would have been refined. In hindsight though, we should have been more open to each other’s work.

Although this reflection may sound slightly negative so far, the positives that emerged from our work were very rewarding. I found it very exciting to get to work with students from both animation and IPD as I got to experience two very new ways of creative thinking. My view on animation is that follows a highly visual direction with some theoretical underpinnings and essentially picks one idea to develop from the beginning. In contrast, VisCom students initially develop multiple ideas into concepts, before picking one to execute. IPD has a primary focus on how the individual engages with the design and its ergonomics. In VisCom we don’t look so much at ergonomics and the body, but more so at individuals’ minds and how to get them to interpret design in a certain way. Additionally, I realised that communicating our creative visions to each  was slightly difficult as we all had a slightly different design vocabulary. This challenging task was enjoyable to overcome I essentially got to learn more about each of my group members’ disciplines.

Despite all the difficulties, our group’s attitude was one of elation and accomplishment when we submitted our work. I think, in part, we felt so accomplished because we overcame our struggle to work cohesively and managed to pull together to produce a sound work. In retrospect, I thoroughly enjoyed this experience more so because I can appreciate the new perspective I have on group work, as well as the perspectives I have gained from my group.

Final: Animation and Presentation

Below are images of our final animation sequence that Gisele did so well to put together with limited time and resources. Under each frame is an explanation of the symbolism of each element.

‘An exploration of how a clear direction/state of mind/river can evolve into murkiness. Point of connection between saltwater and freshwater.’ (Nour, G.)
‘Segmented portions conveying the tumultuous dynamics between freshwater and saltwater, rational and emotional mind. Each element is intrusive in the other’s space, there is a give and take, flow and recede of each estuary element.’ (Nour, G.)
‘Blocks of simple colours, showing the balance that can be achieved between the emotional and rational mind. They still exist together, but in a calmer state. Also is a reference to how saltwater and freshwater do not mix, but remain adjacent.’ (Nour, G.)

I believe the visuals do reflect the aim of our piece as the initial divided screens give each person in the space an individual screen to look at, separating them from the group. Once the eruption of particles occurs a sense of unrest is introduced into the area and you are forced to turn your head and search of the next element that begins creeping into the space. As the siphonophore movements take over the space we see the emotional mind taking over, before the fluid images settle and balance is restored as the images fade out, capturing our exploration of one state of the mind overwhelming the other.

Gisele and Helen also created additional sequences that we presented in the data arena which we considered to be clips that would be included in the 5 minute exhibition as unique stages in the narrative. It was really engaging seeing the panoramic screen divided into segments displaying different elements, whilst Helen’s design had come a really long way conceptually and would act predominantly later on in the narrative to show to the coming together of two entities.

Nour, G. additional sequence
Chun, H. additional sequence

Unfortunately, our presentation didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked, with difficulties playing the sequences due to export issues. However, Gisele and Jason were eventually able to fix these and when we presented again we had more visitors watching which was quite exciting. Thanks to Jack, our sound had a great impression on the audience and our intention to provoke movement in the audience was also received really well.

Ultimately, I wish I could have produced better outcomes in MoBu to use in our work as I felt that the lack of creativity in this area let us down somewhat so I am disappointed with my contribution there.

Our presentation in the lab went well also, although there was a dispute over the formatting of the presentation document. Chris had not made this entirely clear whether it should be designed to be presented on the big screen or to be received in an email, as he kept references font size for the presentation whilst counteracting this with layout for a brief document. However, we were allowed to make adjustments to our final document before submission so it wasn’t too significant a problem.

Subdermal Currents, presentation slide

I had put the presentation together and I was pleased with its aesthetic. As we are taught in VisCom, supporting documentation for any projects should essentially exhibit a similar style or aesthetic that is present in the primary work. Hence, I included water colour marking throughout the presentation as our animation followed these lines of water. However, I didn’t want to make the presentation just black and white to match, so I included a repeating soft blue shade which added some character to the work.


Feedback: Practice Pitch

We all felt pretty good about the demonstration of our WIP as Gisele and Helen had worked really hard through experimentations and Gisele had put so much effort and time into compiling the clips into an engaging piece. We were very pleased when Kevin Sumption agreed that the piece achieved its purpose of being meditative and he thoroughly enjoyed the submersing sounds. He couldn’t offer much more specific feedback other than to think about the experiences an individual faces before they arrive at your installation and how these frame their state of mind, how they receive your work. He also raised an interesting point on the difficulty of measuring the success of an exhibit, especially one that has an artistic focus over an educational one.


I found Kevin’s input really important in understanding how a person feels before they experience an exhibition. Furthermore, his clarification of an exhibits role as artistic or educational had a strong impact on our group as we realised we wanted our to be more artistic as it was a creative representation of our interpretation of the research on saltwater and freshwater meeting in estuaries.

Chris’s feedback was more specific and included notes such as:

  • create a strong sense of eruption and force through imagery and emphasise this through sound, which is very important
  • adding another layer of imagery could be very beneficial, work with assets you already have
  • potentially break up the screen into smaller frames again like you did in the beginning, the repetition would work well

Holger suggested that the piece might be too jumpy but we tried to explain that we wanted to create a sense of unrest as the tension builds between the two forces and then they find balance. I suggested to Gisele that the left area of the visuals with the overlapping particles looking slightly messy and she agreed to choreograph these better with my help creating some better assets.

Unfortunately, on this last day Gisele worked from home whilst I was at uni and I had difficulty understanding what she needed me to create from her in MoBu and ended up sending her my files for her to work through as she could streamline the process whilst I continued working on the task of editing Helen’s work on the 500 work rationale and creating the presentation document for the final day. Once Gisele had finished the animation, she also had a look at the rationale and edited the paragraph on the visual elements as she had a greater understanding of this. Overall, I felt the rationale was written very well, a good concise statement about our project, and below are links to the documents related to its development. 




Experimentation: Visuals in MoBu

We continued on with creating more assets for our piece as we determined that we still didn’t quite have enough and Gisele had to reshoot some videos that weren’t in a high enough resolution. I was again working in Motion Builder, creating assets for both Helen and Gisele who were working on different sequences in After Effects. From my initial tests, I began experimenting with colours and shapes that Gisele had introduced to me through her research into the dynamics between oil and water, especially in the film ‘Odyssey’. 

However, this came out looking very static and no where near as playful and fluid as I’d hoped but I was reassured by Gisele at this point that I should mainly look at the white and black forms I had been working with originally as it looked like we would be working with this as a colour scheme. I created a few different renders of the particles but I wasn’t sure how to take the designs further with my limited skills in MoBu.

Additionally, Helen asked me to create some particles that were moving within their shape, based on the liquid plates tests they conducted. Although this was a rushed experiment, I liked the idea of the moving particles and if I’d had more time I would have liked to look into this more, as I know other groups achieved this. However, our group was feeling somewhat under the pump and as Gisele was working from home whilst I was at uni, we had to stay in continuos contact over message as I tried to deliver assets she needed.

Whilst this was going on Jack was working next to me on sound which he described to me as ethereal and reactive which I though was really accurate. The soundtrack was immersive and transportive to an illusory setting through deep sounds that reminded me of when your ears block on an aeroplane.


Khasanov, R. 2015, ‘Odyssey’ , Vimeo, viewed 30 January 2017, < >

Experimentation: Second Asset Test

Our 2nd time testing elements in the data arena felt a lot more encouraging than the first as Gisele and Helen had produced some really intriguing film clips through their experimentation with oil and water, as well as food dye, glitter and milk. The clips explored the movement and force of different liquids pushing through, whilst simultaneously looking at the separation of two forms in one space. The sepia tone colours were very evocative, especially when juxtaposed with the bright, royal blue colour that I especially liked and had used previously in one of my panorama designs.

Another very successful test was the liquids on plates that when tipped made them flow in a way that was like tides on a shore and I thought this to be very significant in our exploration of the flow and currents of the mind taking over.

Our discussion with Chris and Holger afterwards yielded feedback such as:

  • keeping a simple colour scheme, potentially switching back and forth between two colours
  • conveying a particular point of confluence during the narrative
  • citing an educational source through a creative pursuit
  • potential of not using the entire screen, just a band or section to interact with the individual within the audience

Based on Chris’s feedback, Helen created a really great work flow diagram that demonstrated the progression of our concept in a very succinct way. This was incredibly helpful in honing in our creative direction as we realised the goal of our work in being a meditative piece as whilst the beginning of the narrative sees an unrest unfold between two forces, it eventually calms and finds balance and harmony.

Chun, H. concept flowchart

Experimentation: First Asset Test

The assets we tested in the data arena today were primarily elements that Gisele and Helen had been working on, with some additional elements from Jack and I. Gisele had created some particle movements in Maya that were like white sand or droplets that began floating in a collective group and then suddenly where rushed and pushed around the screen as through a force of water or wind had pushed them. This was really successful in conveying a notion of intrusion and taking over. I showed the Motion Builder tests which I had been working on but it was clear these needed refinement and to be applied in a more creative manner.

Unfortunately, the black and white panoramas I had worked on previously didn’t show up in a high enough resolution so we were unable to receive much feedback on those, except that they had an interesting cellular quality about them. Helen showed her panoramic animation that she had been developing which had a really interesting undulating movement that brought it to life as this breathing organism which everyone really enjoyed.

Chun, H. panorama in AE test

As a group, I think it was clear that we were slightly underprepared for our asset testing as it seemed that most of us had been working on researching topics for our concept rather than translating this into visual ideas. Whilst I don’t think this was necessarily bad as it really opened up our concept, it did restrict how much feedback Chris and Holger were able to give us.

After this session we discussed as a group the project roles we would take on in order to be more productive from this point onwards and determined the following:

  • Helen and Gisele: experimentation with oil and water to produce assets, potentially working with Maya with these
  • Jack: creating sound options and possibly creating more panoramas, collages, illustrations etc.
  • Myself: conducting motion builder tests with particle movements for the modalities and possibly creating panoramas as well

Research: Salt and Freshwater Meet

To continue on with some research that may assist in helping us develop a visual identity, I looked into images of where saltwater and freshwater meet. The first image of the estuary Hervey Bay in Queensland was taken from outer space and beautifully captures the movement of water out of the enclosed space. The second image is very interesting and shows the point of convergence between the Baltic Sea and North Sea which do not mix due to their difference in density (Hitchcock, 2013). Finally, the third image is not of salt and fresh water meeting, but rather of two different coloured rivers in Utah which I just thought was inspiring in relation to the colour scheme.

Looking at these images and thinking about how saltwater and freshwater push against and move through each other had me thinking about the process of osmosis that occurs in most species of fish in these two environments. The image of a thin membrane that materials push through and transfer from either side was a very interesting concept to consider – a barrier between two elements. I think this could be explored further in terms of how the emotional and rational minds overwhelm each other and take over, pushing past each barrier. This idea could be very applicable in our design.


Griffiths, S. 2014, Daily Mail, ‘An Astronaut’s View of Earth’, Hervey Bay, Queensland, captured by International Space Station, August 3, accessed February 3 2017, < >

Hitchcock, S. 2013, TopTenz, ‘Top 10 Incredible Ocean Phenomena’, Meeting of Baltic and North Seas, accessed February 1 2017, < >

N/A, 2011, ClutchFans, ‘Freshwater Meets Saltwater’, website forum, accessed February 1 2017, < >

Experimentation: MoBu

As Gisele and Helen decided between them that it would be most beneficial to play to their strengths and work with 2D animation, I agreed to help out and take a shot at working with Motion Builder. This was a very unexpected role that I took on at quite a late stage in the project as well and I did struggle. In our initial presentation we had stated that Gisele and Helen, being our two animators, would work primarily with this software as Jack and I had no experience. If I had known this from the beginning, I would have taken better notes from Holger’s lessons as I essentially had to ask him to help me from the beginning.

Working with Dean’s motion capture data, I planned on creating two forms that were distinct in representing the grace of the siphonophores and rigidness of the arthropods and these forms would move around each other. 

The white, bulbous trails appear in the space slowly and have a long lifetime so that the shapes left behind are reminiscent of some strange appearances of the siphonophore species that I’d come across in my previous research. I liked the flat, 2D appearance of the circles and how they collected to look like a thick substance. However, I’m not sure the size of these particles is appropriate, and so I think I’ll have to experiment with smaller ones. 

The black, spiky form is attached to one of Dean’s hand markers during his arthropod choreography and darts quickly around the space. The black scribbled line was created in photoshop and I wanted it to convey a sense of prickliness or sharpness as that was a feature I associated with this species. I liked that even while the shape was still in one spot, it was still bristling with energy. I may need to test applying this particle to a number of markers to achieve a sharp that is less round.

I chose black and white to create a clear difference in these entities, on top of their already diverse shapes. I think this is a well recognised colour scheme for two opposing forces but this may be tweaked depending on the aesthetic we choose for our piece. I am still very interested in working with colour.

Concept: Panoramic Designs

Taking inspiration from my watercolour exercises I decided to create some additional panorama designs that would explore the data arena space in an aesthetic that is somewhat more artistic and concurrent with my research so far. In my outcomes I tried to articulate two opposing forms, specifically symbolising the movements of the siphonophores and arthropods which we have been exploring so far.

In the first and second images below, the arthropods are signified through the cellular-like shapes that are at first static but then spread across the area in quick forms, before becoming static again. The siphonophores are symbolised by the wispy, undefined trails that glide airily across the space.



The last example was less about opposing forms and more about and examination of movement and flow at a molecular level. Chris is often reminding us of the presence of cellular organisms, especially found within estuaries, so I attempted to portray this aquatic environment a little more figuratively. Interestingly, this imagery reminds me of my sensory experience in Dean’s workshop when I was blindfolded and listening to the soundtrack as I felt I was peering into a very deep, dark expanse with strange particles passing by my head.


With these images in mind I hope to start some significant experimentation on MotionBuilder now as I feel this could be quite beneficial for the group. I made a secondary Pinterest board in which I have been more selective with imagery and textures that I would like to use in some animation tests. Some imagery that stood out for me includes Greg Papagrigoriou’s calligraphy work ‘Japan mountain’ that uses an amazing contrast between a very opaque and quite scratchy ink line to convey the notion of balance. Also, Lee Ufan’s glue and stone pigment on canvas demonstrates how a sense of movement can be achieved through static shapes, and equally reminds me of soft waves rolling in. More images can be seen at:


Papagrigoriou, G. 2014, ‘Japan mountain’, calligraphy ink on paper, accessed February 4 2017, < >

Ufan, L. 1976, ‘From Point’, glue and stone pigment on canvas, accessed February 4 2017, < >

Concept: Mark Making

From Chris’s feedback, a word that really stood out for me was ‘disconnection’ and I decided to explore this through some image making techniques that could yield more ideas and assets for motion builder. I have enjoyed working with watercolours as of late so decided to continue with this, employing a simple yet effective colour palette of black and white variants, with an interruption of blue.

The shapes explore a sense of disintegration, separation and also opposing forms through colour and size. For example, the left image sees two bowed, black forms almost touching which juxtapose with a long, raged black line in create a sense of unbalance. In the second image, the square-like shapes dissolve quickly into an organic and misty form to demonstrate the taking apart of solid forms.

Personally, I am very interested in Asian ink artworks, especially in this circumstance where we are exploring contrasting notions that can be likened to Yin and Yang, which a symbol frequently seen in this style of art. Whilst this resonated nicely with our concept, I couldn’t help but also appreciate the use of water colours as a homage to marine environments. I’m not entirely sure how I will use this artworks further in our project, but for now they have been helpful in furthering my understanding of our concept.