The morning of day 2 took us back into the data arena to observe and participate in the choreography of Dean Walsh. This session took my understanding of this course to a while different level, and I think it properly hit me what I was actually doing (in a good way).
The participatory element of the session was, for want of a better word challenging in so far that Dean was asking us to get out of our comfort zone (and into his) and take on the choreography. I enjoyed it and I’m better for it as I believe I have a tiny comprehension of that world.
My immediate reactions from Dean Walsh are described in the diary sketches below.
I attempted to think about the subsets brought forward by Chris, territory and intruder and associate some kind of physicality from the morning in the data arena to them. It was challenging but some of the thoughts that hit me were:
Male and female: intrusion of space, the limits there of. When is company intrusion? Why are two males in the territory of a female different to two female in the territory of a male? Can territories even be blanketed across gender?
Find the impetus of Goldsworthy in this area.
Is this a representation of the primitive human state? Possibly by undertaking this exercise, we could be tapping into a thread of a behaviour and mind from a different eon. This thought connects well with Deans comprehension of the connection to animals. He used the example of dancing in Australian Aboriginal rites. This is something to think about further.
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’.
Khasanov, R. ‘Odyssey’ 2015
Khasanov, R. ‘Odyssey’ 2015
Wolstenholme, L. photoshop image
Wolstenholme, L. photoshop image
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.
MuBu test, long spread out particles
MuBu test, small close together particles
MuBu test, small close together particles
MuBu test, spread out
MuBu test, small particle image
MuBu test, increased speed
MuBu test, zooming in camera
MuBu test, zooming out camera
MuBu test, camera in middle
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.
Wolstenholme, L. MoBu moving particle test
Wolstenholme, L. MoBu moving particle test
Wolstenholme, L. MoBu moving particle test
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.
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.
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Meeting of Baltic and North Seas
Meeting of Green and Colorado River, Utah
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.
Our group had a LOT of issues this morning trying to export our image sequences as mp4’s using the mkmeg script. It would just say that the path couldn’t be found and wouldn’t export anything. We’d arrived at 8.30am but even by 9.30, our deadline, it just wasn’t working. Jason, the technical genius of UTS had been spending the whole hour trying to work out what the problem was but by the end we had to just leave the files with him and accompany Chris to the Data Arena to start the presentations. It was a very stressful situation, and even though Jason had arrived with the files, which had worked on the lab computers, they wouldn’t play in the Data Arena.
We gave our verbal presentation, and Jason and I left to try work the script again in the level 3 computer lab. This time they finally worked, all three test sequences (that morning Helen’s was the only one that worked, and we hadn’t even had a chance to try the third sequence!). Turns out the sound file was the issue – it was an .mp3 and only a .wav file would run the script.
We managed to present our film at 12pm, which was actually quite nice because there were several visitors watching by that point, including an animation tutor, Deborah Szapiro.
We got a lot of good feedback – the sound made a great impression and Deb liked that our intention aimed to get museum guests moving around the space. Upon asking what we’d change in our piece, we expressed a desire to include a bit more depth into our piece.
(Nour, G. 2017)
Some slides from our in-class presentation:
(Mindmap, Chun, H 2017; Presentation, Wolstenholme, L. 2017)
Overall the past two and a half weeks have definitely been a very intense, immersive experience. It was a steep learning curve but led to a great ability to make snap decisions and not become too attached to any one concept or idea, to analyse each critically and objectively and choose the best one for the brief. It was a good experience at looking at each team member’s strengths and making the most of them in the project. I’m really pleased with our concept and how our animation turned out. It was definitely stressful but it worked out without any irreversible/unsolvable hiccups in the process. It was also really great to learn a new program (especially being an animator) and gain experience working with a different space (especially such a unique one) and with people from different design disciplines. I’ve never worked on a solely abstract piece before and it definitely inspires an alternative way of thinking. It will definitely aid in future projects now I’m in the habit of asking, “What do I want to convey? What do I want the viewer to feel? How do I do that? Does my current work accomplish that? How can I tell?”
Final presentation day and Murphy S Law had to join the party!
I had come in the day before to ensure the jpeg sequence would be outputted properly. There were problems, however, Jason and Holger were at hand to help. Therefore I felt less pressured this morning until we found that we had to output it again due to the sound.
Gisele also came across issues in outputting her sequence in the script so we were pushed right up to the time of presentation.
We had guest artists come in and other tutors including Deborah Szapiro (this really made me nervous).
When it came to our time to present, we felt good about the oral presentation but then ARGGGHHH the primary animation would not play. Gisele and Jason had to go and output it again. Alas, we gave a super brief summary then on with the show.
Holger loved the sound and thought it held the piece together.
We presented and pretty much recapped on our process through these short weeks.
On reflection, this has been one of my most challenging classes I’ve taken at UTS. However, I felt I pushed myself in technology, as a designer, and as an artist. I’ve gained new friendships, consolidated existing friendships and met new future design collaborators.
Day 10: ‘National Maritime Museum Presentation’
Today we presented to Kevin Sumption Director of the National Maritime Museum.
The animation sequence chosen to be primary piece focused largely on the abstract perspective of the estuary, namely the emotional and rational state, framed as one state being an intruder over the other to the point where these two states combine as one eclectic entity (Gulley 1964). In our piece we wanted the schismogenesis (when dynamic forces meet in a system it can be harmonic or divisive) of the intruder (emotional state) to ‘take over’ the rationale but in this case the emotion was taken from stance of positive psychology (SevernEstuaryArtAtlas n.d).
Lou was our group’s chosen spokesperson and she presented beautifully our concise statement, which essentially embodied the following:
The Estuary is a space where dynamic forces are in play yet it is a meeting place of these elements. Our piece explores when saltwater meets with freshwater in an estuarial space. Taking into account that the National Maritime Museum is a treasure chest of oceanic backstories, this artwork explores antiquity framed in Homeric and Platonic notions of emotion and rationale and whether these states converge in an estuarial space for its viewers, in order that they may find that metaphoric and meditative stillness where freshwater meets saltwater.
Colour palette deliberately chosen to be black and white as this is palette triggers that the visual language that this semiotics, in play and the image is not meant to be read as literal. The public reading of the piece in panoramic view becomes an individual reading as the viewer is drawn into the meditative visual of the ink/dye diffusing into the oil.
We were delighted that Kevin received our piece as meditative, which meant that our intent of interpreting the literal Estuary as a meeting place (where saltwater and freshwater merge) into a metaphoric estuary where emotional and rational states can co-exit in a harmonic schismogenesis (Bateson 1972). However, Kevin did ask the question, ‘How do you measure the success of a piece?, which could have been euphemistic for you ‘You ain’t quite there!’
I took copious notes as I personally felt, with this project aside, that Kevin’s feedback was invaluable to how an artist/designer would approach a piece of work, taking into account the designated space – and it’s ambient noise, and placement with the space; demographics of their audience; mindset of the audience and much more.
However, in regards to this project, and acknowledging our time constraints, the points Kevin brought up had to be considered quickly. In essence, Kevin’s main point that he kept reiterating was summed up in one phrase he used of himself – he saw his role at the NMM as an ‘ADVOCATE OF THE AUDIENCE’. (McKever 2009)
Hence, one of the driving factors in improving our piece was all based on the audience, who they were; how they would perceive the film; how we wanted them to perceive the piece.
This meant we had to delve into the audience mindset and utilise devices which who draw them into a mindset we wanted them to be in to experience our piece fully. The 360-degree screen played a main role in getting our audience immersed in the film however although Kevin was able to recognise our piece as meditative, there is a recognition that the meditative estuary may not have been attained by all visitors of the museum, as Kevin would be categorised as a ‘sophisticated audience’, recognising the visual language of the piece and hence respond to those triggers. (Chong 2008, p.126) However, Kevin placed a foot in both camps and hence gave us the feedback we most needed for the piece to work in the museum space, which always stemmed back to the audience and their needs.
Bateson, G., 1972. Steps to an ecology of mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. University of Chicago Press
Gulley, N. 1964, “Homer, Plato, and the Two Cultures.” The Classical Review, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 31–33.
McKever, R. 2009, ‘The Art of Business by Iain Robertson and Derrick Chong’, The Art Book, vol.16, pp. 34-35
Based on yesterday’s feedback regarding clarity in Today, Gisele and I set out to push the concept of intruder and territory by experimenting in the 2D realm. We utilised oils, food colouring, glitter, and milk.
We took over the Rostrum Camera Room (the ‘Store’) on level two and proceeded to mix the ingredients with the following results:
They were locking up the Studio room at 4pm so Gisele continued the experimentations with oil and ink at home and I worked on some textures with food dyes and beads.
Lou and Jack continued in the 3D realm with particle testing .
We tested our assets that we created yesterday within the Data Arena today. Overall quite successful, this is a collection of the feedback from Chris and Holger and notes of things we discussed:
Targeted at the individuals within the crowd. An opportunity to self-reflect, personal growth.
Can extend into other binaries – love hate, fear hope
Look at estuaries – where the salt and water meet
Study on water molecules
Explore an educational context
Is it a passive space? Is it an interactive space? Responsive space?
Thin line above and below – 2 seconds then change. Abrupt shots and glimpses.
Cross section of oil and water and colour in jar (2 spaces).
Think about interactivity.
**** HOW have you considered dean’s data? Don’t have to use it for the majority.
Render with an alpha channel and export into AE.
Consider what (literal) objects we could use? Amoebas, particle/growth underwater (similar to moss?).
Get panoramas made at a higher resolution
Consider the space as a whole, not just individual elements.
Sound: increasing into a cacophony, cluster, cocoon of sound.
Look at actual estuaries – find areal, birdseye view.
Look at topographic maps.
(Nour, G. 2017)
After getting back to class, Lou left early and Jack worked on some sound while Helen and I planned for our oil experiments tomorrow.
Helen suggested the cool idea of looking at a cross-section of oil and other mediums in a jar. We’re also going to attempt marbling paint on paper, smearing paint using twigs, film underneath perspex and plastic sheets to see the effects of paint and other materials dropping and interacting. If the oil, paint and water tests work then they’ll be a great opportunity to layer in AE (influenced by Miyanaga Akira), use as particles within MotionBuilder. They also should reflect topographic maps of estuaries, which will be another great interlinking of the concepts. We’re really excited to test these out tomorrow!
We discussed the film ‘Place Beyond the Pines’ which conveys an incredibly strong sense of immersion when watching the film.
This also reminded me of another compilation of images from other sources that I made last year for a different subject, also conveying strong immersive sensory images.
‘Journey’ in particular is a video game based on the idea of being immersed in an environment. The game is almost more about the beautiful art than the actual gameplay (which is just a story-type exploration game). And ‘Firewatch’ has a beautiful sense of light in the game and how the colours and environment changes with it.
IDEA: look at the marine colour changes within estuaries, see what variations and shadows there are. Could be cool to incorporate into our film.
Based on Louise Zhang’s art (below) we added some extra mediums to take to uni tomorrow to play around with and looked at Ruslan Khasamov’s short films (stills seen below) for ideas of different ways of mark-making and footage.
We also looked at some references and art from different artists that related to our plans to stimulate some thoughts/ideas and brainstorm about our ensuing process (citation at end).
(Zhang, L. 2013-2015)
(Khasanov, R. 2014)
(Khasanov, R. 2013)
Magnetik North ‘Fuck the Napkin’
(Khasanov, R. 2013)
(Khasanov, R. 2012)
(Akira, M. 2012-2016)
I also set up a pinterest board to pin images more easily and have things to reference!
Our plan for tomorrow’s actions:
Helen: (with Gisele) a range of oil and colour tests using a variety of materials. Paint tests, paper marbling. Collect other assets: illustration, photos, montages, etc. Other animation possibly (don’t know if you’re comfortable with that)?
Gisele: (with Helen) a range of oil and colour tests using a variety of materials. Paint tests, paper marbling. Explore more particle effects and export them as alpha for Jack. Possibly test importing the oil tests into motionbuilder and layering them in AE. And if time, some 2D animated tests, if it fits the style.
Jack: create sound options, look at sound bites, sound sound sound. Also AE testing of tests and maybe some panoramas. Could look into the IPD design skills for designs we could import into motionbuilder re: arthro and sipho (e.g. shapes). Also asset building: montages, images, photos, etc.
Lou: motionbuilder tests, exploring multiple particle forms (like we did in class), attaching particles to different mocap joints and looking at the different shapes and interesting movements you can produce, thinking in terms of arthro and sipho. Also asset building: collages, illustrations, textures, etc.
Day 5 – Monday was presentation day. The level of stress went up a notch on the morning of Monday as we prepared to half something substantial to present to Chris and Holger.
The panorama creation and ideation on level 7 left us with a visual proposition to build a theoretical statement on and research further.
Myself, Helen, Gisele and Louise all did some amount of research to gain a theoretical position to have a basis for proceeding. I personally slipped back to the anthropology field that I studied years ago to come up with some key notions and concepts to build on:
Given the nature of the estuary from our current understanding, I firstly looked into the thresholds, liminality and ‘the space in-between’.
In this space in between, two opposing forces can unite – I like to think that the lion and the lamb will lie together if the rain outside is hard enough.
This idea is embodied in Janus, the two-faced Roman god of warfare, originally deity of doors and thresholds, his two faces representing the simple fact that from a door one can see both ways (Szakolczai, 2009). In addition to this, the notion brought forward by Plutonian thought connotes the intruder, which can be linked to the rigidity of the Arthropod will intrude the fluidity the thoughts of one’s mind.
This leads us to present the idea that the creation of division, or schismogenesis can take place in the estuary and yet the estuary will remain intact and functioning.
Anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1935) came to the recognition that societies can be stuck for a long time in a state where the previous unity was broken, and yet the schismatic components are forced to stay together, producing an unpleasant, violent, harrowing, truly miserable existence (Szakolczai, 2009).
This brought forward the notion that opposing forces exist in the same environment. This led into Helens research into the dictomony of Plato and Homer.
Our statement on our theoretical position was contributed to by all, but Gisele wrote it out:
“Our concept explores the fluctuation between the rational and emotional mind. Our estuary focuses on the ebb and flow of water currents as they combine and divide from and to different river paths. The rational and emotional mind is concurrent, intertwined, but separate and working on separate axes. An experience will be considered territory or intruder depending on which mind is taking priority. External stimuli affects and influences the mind towards a certain state. One can change between emotional and rational states of mind, but it is a slower, more specific, targeted approach. This emulates the movement of estuaries where the freshwater adjusts to become salt water.”
On day 3 we continued to look at motionbuilder and later in the day we moved on to softimage. I felt like I was getting a grasp of the software and could start to envisage how I might be able to create a narrative. Allowing a narrative to come forth in motionbuilder is an aspect to this course that I felt is necessary and yet I could not hide the feeling that the motion capture data that the class collected from Dean Walsh may have been a limiting factor.
(above) Early attempts at building particles.
I considered this a part and parcel with the ‘journey’ of the subject as described by Chris – which I was more than happy to allow to unfold. In the afternoon of day 3 the class was introduced to softimage (image below). I was pleasantly surprised at its usuability after Holger talked about how difficult it may be for some people.
On day 4 we met on level 7 and manually developed a visual narrative to take back into the software. This was a good team building exercise and after the challenge of all getting on the same page, we decided on the preliminary concept of the intrusion of thoughts into a territory. From here we attempted to extend this thinking to adapt to the brief. I introduced the idea of rational or logical thinking versus emotional thinking and the dicotomy thereof.
I brought in a number of materials to work with and some images to inspire and work off. I have always loved and studied in my own time mid 20th century art in America – mostly the abstract impressionists and similarly, the experimental music scene in new york and the US in the late 70’s and 1980’s. As such I brought in some images that epotomise that era in painting, image and sound to inspire myself and the team (below).
I settled on (clockwise from top-left) an early Jackson Pollock painting from the 1940s, AR Penck painting from 1990, A Man Ray photograph, a drawn choreographed dance diagram, lined dancers image, an Orozco painting from the 1950s.
The group was generally accepting of the images I brought in and they helped in the structure of the panorama (below).
The following entries into my note book are the foundations of our group direction. At the end of day 4 the group and myself were hitting a road block in terms of the progression of our design response. No-one seemed to be on the same page, although everyone seemed to be on similar pages. I suggested going down the path decribed in the image below where by the estuary is a metaphor for the division of thoughts in the mind. We talked about how to include the subsets of territory and intruder and established that from time to time people have intrusive thoughts that are not wanted, nor were they planted in ones mind knowingly. An example of this that I found was advertising, ie. mcdonalds – ‘i’m loving it’, or a more insideous example – a recurring negative thought that one may associate with a place, a sound or a feeling.
Below are my clarifycations of what I thought was expected of myself and the group. I tried to maintain to the group that the visualisations needed dynamics to establish a narrative. A crescendo may be neccessary or appearing and disappearing elements. I found it too early to speculate about such details too much without getting my feet wet in the data arena.