Archive for the 'Interactive Screens and Cinematic Objects' Category

What Was The Feeling?

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

What do you feel? This is the title of my latest work for Interactive Screens and Cinematic Objects. It evolved from my interest in observing while manipulating people who are cast in various situations. I use the word CASTS because they become actors on the stage which I create. In this case it’s a dark closed room with stagnant tentacle-like fabric. I was not too sure about the content at first, being distracted and all, but I was sure that I wanted to evoke a sense of confusion and disillusion. Sadistic isn’t it? Anyway, I spent the weekend plus a few days looking at, gathering and editing footage. I settled on scenes from “Juliette of the Spirits”. Not my initial attempt for I wanted to create my own footage. This was not possible within the SCOPE at that timeframe. let me go back a few, my initial set-tup involved four screens in a room, a video camera and an outside monitor with delayed surveillance of the subject inside the room.

Top view

voyeurs

What an ambitious tasks, which I thought I would pull off. But I started way too late. Having discussed my challenges with Marina she suggested scaling down a bit. This meant using two screens instead of four and rethinking the content if need me. I did want to make the room immersive, where the cast felt uncomfortably alone if not trapped for a few minutes. To accomplish this I wanted there to be only one occupant per session. Also, there is sound to further heighten the sense of disturbance.

The Building Process:

I was very fortunate to have a professor, Nancy H, lend me her office for the final event. so on top of building the content I had to transform her office. I started by clearing most of her furniture and installing black drapes on all four sides, making it dark if not dismal. It also made the room feel colder and since the black drapes have been folded and locked away for about a year it smelled really bad. This was unexpected and troubled me a bit. But little did I know that it would add to the experience of the cast. Fore the tentacles I used white Japanese silk and cut then into strips. I then hung them from rows of fishing line stretched across the top of the room. I’d like to add here many thank to Felipe who came in after work and helped me transform Nancy’s office. So many great people at ITP.

The next stage was then to put the screens and speakers inside the room, wire-up and test. This of-course took the next day since I was still compiling footage. I did not quite make it complete and took some short cuts, which the crits called me on.

The event and crits:

So here’s what I ended up doing and here were some feedback I received from the class crits…

Video content of: What Was The Feeling?

It was difficult to critique collectively because there was a limit ti how many people could go in at the same time. So we decided to make it two while simultaneously critiquing someone else’s work. Most said that i nailed the immersiveness- if there’s such a word. They also liked the sound and the fabric, which frayed over time adding to extra cling. The content left most lost, was very difficult to understand and the use of text totally made people loose the little grip they had of the concept. That’s where I cheated because I was lacking footage. Marina questioned and encouraged me to explore different materials for the tentacles. maybe a different colour, abrasion, etc…

Further thoughts:

I was surprised how due to the constraints of the room and other factors, how the project evolved. At the end I was pleased even though for me it obviously lacked the narrative I wanted to convey. I learned alot and would actually like to explore this project some more. maybe research some other artists’ works who delved in the disillusion and manipulation of the subject.

Here are some works I found intersesting:

Turnstyleurnstyle: Interactive Border Door
Because I am an avid traveler I found the immigration border control topic interesting.

Imitating The Dog:
I thought this had some reflection to my work. Would love to experience this performance.

More to come.

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One last note: An immersive moment for me aside form diving, was a time when I almost drowned. I almost drowned 7 times as a kid so I know what it feels like to have water in the lungs. Anyway, that time I was dropping fast, but it felt slow and it was very tranquil. I did not resist and was just letting it happen. I saw things, things today I cannot explain, but it was beautiful and peaceful. Then someone saved me.

I would like to create a somewhat similar experience for others. Of course without the death part.

Off-The-Grid Tree: Monument + Mundanity

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

The project brief was to create a replacement monument to the Alamo, a.k.a the Astor Place cube.

Alamo

This was of-course fictional but the purpose was to get us in the mode of preparing documentation and fine-tuning our presentation for an actual proposal. There were to be many critique of our work, which in turn should help us support our thesis is you will.

Anyway, I went out with a fellow student, Yan Yan, and we observed the the life and interaction of and around the Cube. Here’s what we observed on this gloomy day:

The Alamo sits at a major traffic crossroads in this part of the city with other now iconic building. We have Cooper Union, K-mart, and now Chase bank and the high rise which sits on top. This of course produces more foot traffic along with other nearby location points. NYU, Barnes & Nobles, etc..
What I also observed was that there was no limit to who interacted with the Cube. Daily you would find kids turning the cube, even the suits, grandparents, the Southern bells, all took part in turning the cube. One would ask why? What did they get form this act? I mean, you have to cross the street into this open and flat all concrete micro-park, then with all your strength, turn it around a few times. then you leave. Is it because it was there? Was this a notion of “Build it and they will come”? Not to repeat Kevin Costner’s ‘Field of Dreams’ line… Well, they come, they turn, they even sometimes hang out. There’s the occasional defacing and pranks, for example the famous rubiks cube prank:

cube prank

This got me thinking about what else can this area give us. It so happen to be a bit cold and windy and then the eureka moment hit me. How about wind energy? Should I make a monument which conveys wind energy awareness? And if would how?
My next step was to gather wind data for Astor Place. So far in my research I came up with nothing! how was I suppose to present wind energy awareness. I took a step back and researched more and I revamped my approach. instead of just the wind energy concept I used the term most widely used ‘Renewable Energy‘. So what is renewable Energy? It’s Energy that effectively utilizes natural resources such as Sunlight, Wind, Tides, and Geothermal-heat…

Sun

Wind

Heat

Renewable energy have been around for many hundreds of years. Think of sail ships which uses wind, for example. but with modern day Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy most of us in modern living cannot imagine life without them. But with the strain on the environment and the now present Global Warming organizations have been looking at how to utilize renewable energy sources and bring it to the masses. It’s still a tough PR move given that some if not most, don’t want to sacrifice comfort for the sake of the planet.
I started thinking of trees and how the continue to serve us in many ways. Trees provide vital Oxygen, some provide food, they provide shade and beauty. It also keeps the dirt on hills from sliding and are sometimes the means of construction and heat. But I wanted to use wind with the trees. What I came up with was an Wind driven LED lamp system, where hundreds of LED wind turbines will replace the leaves of the tree. As the wind blows it will light up the LED’s, cause and effect. I did some research and came across Jason Bruges Studio - Wind-To-Light Installation

Wind-To-Light

I was inspired by how those tiny turbines powered the LED’s producing a firefly like effect. i even worked with a pinwheel attached to a motor attached to an LED. It worked but required lots of tinkering.

Ok, so I wanted to convey to anyone passing by that there’s this energy we sometimes take for granted. Of course there would be times when there would be little wind, thus no light. So the tree only comes alive with this renewable (wind) energy.

I also wanted to play with sound, again using wind as the driving force. In discussions in class wind chimes came up - thanks Marina. The great thing about wind chimes is that the sound can be tuned to be melodic, pleasing to the ear. It also cuts through existing sounds in the surroundings. It get really loud when there’s traffic, people and vehicles, and particularly after it rains. researching wind projects I came across the Singing Ringing Tree: by Tonkin Liu.

wind tree

What a great project and undertaking, and the tree concept lives on.

I also looked into many wind chime sounds. Here’s one example:

I decided on very small wind chimes would be hung from the branches. With little wind the wind-chimes will still sound off.
Simple huh? Not so for it begged the question, how will people be aware or become aware? I still don’t have a solid answer for this but I do believe that over time people will notice the staggering nature of the lights and sounds, and would match it with the conditions of the day - windy or not. There would also be seating at the base of the tree so that one can rest in the shade or led-lights (LED starlights). Sitting there they should become aware… But the real answer will be at to actually build it - They might come.

One argument was whether there should be interaction with the tree to produce energy or not. I am still in the fence with this. One inspiration I had of interactivity was from a Thesis project from a former Student Lief Mangelsen’s Krinkle-O-Tron. An LED column and slit-scan projection driven by human powered razor scooters.

Great work but I somehow feel it would be misleading the the awareness of off-the-grid. Please comment if you feel different.

Anyway, the feedback/critique in class was very rewarding. It made me think of what I need to do to make the presentation and concept stronger. How to deal with tough questions and helped me stay strong with this notion of ‘Build it and they will come’.

I look forward to your comments.

Allistar