Posts in the 10in10 category

Of all my projects this summer, this is the by far the least developed in terms of actually “making” something, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about the conceptual idea behind it, as well as preparing for it’s production. While I was in California over the summer visiting family, I came across over a dozen of home movies that hadn’t been touched in probably over a decade. I decided to sit down and look through their content. I was thinking about how precious these tapes are to me, because they prove my history. They have my childhood experiences documented, a concrete personal narrative that I have little to no memory of. In thinking about old home videos, it brings up the question of importance and relevance. These precious tapes are only really important to me. How is it, that these arbitrary and seemingly pointless hours of documentation can me so much to me, and so little to someone else?

I am in the process of digitizing approximately 150 hours of home movies. I am not sure exactly what I am going to make out of it, but I have come across certain elements that I would like to explore. There are several videos of me dancing as child. I was never put into any sort of dance class at a young age, but I have found numerous videos of me performing for my mother. I am interested in looking at this “historical movement”, and replicating on my body over 20 years later. I have begun learning these childhood dances, and adapting them. I eventually will combine the footage of me as a child with either a live performance, or a composited video.

I love living in New York City, and I am constantly walking around exploring new areas that I’ve never seen. In my 10 years here, I am still discovering new areas. One thing I’ve noticed, in almost everywhere I go, is the amazing street art/graffiti that covers the streets. I’m not talking about the traditional spay painted “tagging” graffiti, but these pieces of art work that scatter the scafoldings, walks, traffic posts, etc.

Throughout the summer I had been taking pictures of the really cool pieces that I would come across. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them, but I wanted to start keeping a record of what I was seeing.

It finally occurred to me that these pieces would lend themselves so perfectly to animation. I decided to do a test animation so I could develop a process. I chose to animate a flying bird that had a scroll in its feet. My thoughts were that the bird would fly in and then the scroll would unravel.

First I had to bring the photograph into photoshop and remove the bird from the brick wall background. Then I broke the bird apart, separating it into the two wings, an open and closed eye, the two parts of the beak, the body, and the scroll. Once this tedious process was complete, I brought it into After Effects, and just did a simple animation to it. I think that this is a great idea, and some of the images I took would be perfect for this. I am excited to try to do some of the other ones.

Over the past several weeks I have been working on redesigning and reorganizing my Parsons MFADT documentation/thesis/portfolio site. The process has been extremely overwhelming, realizing that there is so much content that I have been creating over the past year. My previous site was mostly used as a static portfolio site, which linked to my parsons blog. Both were designed with a similar look and feel, but as time went on I realized it was too busy. The blog portion was poorly organized, and all the content seemed to be just thrown into the shell.

My goal in redesigning my site was to develop a clean crisp site design, complemented by an organized and easily updatable and manageable back-end. The most useful tool in doing this, was to create and skin a customized wordpress blog. I looked around for a theme that I liked, based not on its visual appearance, but more-so on its navigation and functionality. After finding The Side Blog I went on a skinning rampage. I gravitated towards a hand-drawn simple look, because I felt like it added a nice personal touch. On the back end of things, I customized the blog to display certain posts on certain pages, so that all my content was organized by class and subject matter. I added several different jQuery plug-ins to add light-box galleries throughout the site, as well as the image slider on the home page.

There is still a ton more I want to do to the site. I have spent the past few days developing the side bar navigation, to correlate with the specific pages that the user is on. I also want to migrate all of my portfolio work to this site so I can get rid of my old site all together. I also am a little behind on documenting some of my projects from last year. Lots to do….lots to do.

I am fascinated with movement. This is probably why I am so drawn to the creation of dances, constantly developing new movement vocabularies and exploring the different types of physicality I can achieve with my body. But movement is fleeting. They occur within the briefest second, and then disappears into the next. One of the questions I continuously find myself asking, is if there is some way to document the history of our movements.

I was initially inspired by the photography of of Tom Carvaglia, who has experiemented with different types of photographic techniques to achieve a trail of movement. Last summer during bootcamp, he inspired me to investigated ways in which I could achieve this effect with a processing sketch. The outcome was extremely unexpected but surprisingly beautiful. Below are several examples of those experiments using my iphone as light in a dark room with my processing sketch.

This time around I wanted to see if I could achieve a more “photo-realistic” effect by using my camera. I tried several different combinations of aperture and shutter speed settings. I found that a slower shutter speed would give me more of a trail with the movement, but I lost some of the crispness of the subject. I decided the best way to figure out what the best setting was, would be to go out and experiment. One of my closest friends Molly and I went out into Williamsburg and shot dance phrases in several different locations. I personally love the industrial grunge aesthetic, and felt it would be an interesting contrast with the blurs of the movement.

After taking about 1,000 photographs, I brought certain sequences into photoshop and overlaid them on one another. Below are my final composites:

The math problem animation proved to be much more difficult in deciding the best way to approach its animated solution. The question which can be seen here, involves a basic understanding of algebra and geometry. In order to properly explain it, we would have to show the steps need to solve the problem, in addition to any needed equations/theorems.

As with the word problem, a narrative explanation along with a story board, were drafted up.

“Color associations visually represent the equality of the hypotenuse BE2 to the area of square BCDE . The animation begins with the square rolling off of the triangle to show explicitly that side BE of square BCDE is shared. Next the equality of all sides of BCDE is demonstrated by superimposition and then as the square is reassembled by color association (ie. equal lengths will all be the same color). When the square is reassembled with four sides all of the same color it will roll back on to triangle BEA.

The lengths of legs EA and BA are given, 3 and 5 respectively. Each of the legs will be colored differently. Remember, leg BE will share the same color as sides CB, CD, and DE of square BCDE. The animation will then remind the viewer of the Pythagorean theorem and solve for the length of hypotenuse BE. The solution is BE = √34. At this point in the animation the screen splits and the formula for the area of a square is represented. Using color association the animation will demonstrate that the side BE2 is equal to the √342, or 34.

It is important to note that equity throughout the animation is demonstrated in using two strategies. First, superimposition (a common Euclidean method for demonstrating equal lengths) and color association (a fun and clear way to show equalities throughout the solution of the problem).”

The animation of this seemingly simple little piece took close to 30 hours. Despite the frustration I had with auto-orienting the letters of the segments to their lines, I think the piece turned out to be pretty successful.

My boyfriend and I collaborated on a project this summer where we created animated solutions to SAT prep questions. We created two different animations, a word problem and a math problem. These two prototype animations were pitched to several different educational establishments.

We started off with a traditional SAT sentence correction problem that can be seen
here.

After much brainstorming we drafted up a written narrative and storyboard that we felt would creatively explain the correct answer.

“The essential knowledge required for the solution of this verbal problem is to make comparisons one must compare two like objects. To visually represent this concept a scale is animated as either balanced or unbalanced. The animation begins with the image of a scale both sides empty and thusly, in perfect balance. A raven then flies onto the screen and places several of Shakespeare’s seminal works on one side of the scale (ie. Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, etc. all titles will be visible to the viewer). As the scale becomes unbalanced it adjusts appropriately. To demonstrate the inequity between the individual Edgar Allen Poe and the literary works of William Shakespeare the raven then flies off screen and returns with an actual animation of Edgar Allen Poe. The raven places the animated Poe on the opposite side of the scale and the inequity is animated as the scale adjusts rapidly due to the increased weight on the previously empty side. Clearly, the man Edgar Allen Poe is not comparable to the literary works of William Shakespeare. At this point the raven returns and removes Poe from the scale, the scale tips again to the side of Shakespeare’s plays as the opposite side is now empty. When the raven returns it is holding the stories of Poe and places them on the scale. The equitable comparison between plays and stories is animated as the scale comes into balance. “

After many hours battling with how to make the scales balance appropriately and recording a dozen takes for the voice over, I am pretty happy with the final product.

In order to promote this project, I decided that I wanted to create Become Displaced customized T-shirts. They can be distributed easily and are walking advertisements. Ideally, someone would see a person walking down the street, and want to know more about their shirt.

I realized that having these shirts produced through a printing serviced would be an extremely expensive investment, especially because I did not want to order the shirts in bulk. I decided that I would make these t-shirts myself, with a DIY silk screening kit. For the actual t-shirts, I purchased 99 cent shirts at the salvation army. Each shirt is unique and most have hilarious things already printed on them, such as “Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”. I felt this aesthetic related somewhat to the themes in Become Displaced.

These are the steps I took to create a customized silk screen shirt:

1. Customize a design
2. Trace the design onto the silk screen
3. Paint over the traced design with drawing fluid
4. Fill the screen with screen filler
5. Rinse out the drawing fluid with cold water
6. Buy t-shirts
7. Silkscreen!

Since January 2010, I have been working on the development of an interactive performance piece, entitled Become Displaced. With this work I attempt to marry the worlds of multi-media interactivity with the more traditional dance/theater, audience/performer paradigm. To seamlessly integrate the visual and performance elements, I continue to develop a methodology where the technology and performance are created simultaneously. This method allows for dialogue between formerly separate mediums. With this project, I strive to incorporate technology with the audience’s experience. By blurring the lines between performers and audience a participatory experience is created, where anyone is able to interact with the technology allowing the audience to become performers. The performer and audience paradigm is undone. Become Displaced combines dance, video, animation and physical computing. The media components are generated live and not pre-recorded or choreographed. The real time dialogue between the performers and the technology, allows for experimentation and investigation within the creation.

The piece follows several characters through a cathartic experience at a self help/psycho-therapy clinic. The “patients” are called into an office, where each person has their own individual experience. They interact with projected images and sound (all generated live), which are triggered based on their movement throughout the space. Behind all the interactions is a strange “doctor” who is physically pushing buttons and moving gears to make these experiences.

For the months of May and June, The Baryshnikov Arts Center granted me a space residency to develop this work. Throughout that time, I focused on the development of several programs and investigated ways in which the specific technologies could be integrated into the performers experience. The residency culminated in a works-in-progress showing at in the studio. Below is a video of the full performance and here is a link to the blog that was maintained throughout the duration of this process.

For my section in Become Displaced, I wanted to explore the relationship between movement, sound, and space. I created a patch in Max/MSP that created a 4×4 grid of sound. Movement in any one of the “cells” would trigger a specified sound byte. The space itself almost becomes a land mine, bringing sound to the movements that occur within it.

At first I experimented with several different sounds that were distorted through their playback speed. Below is one of my early improvisations, exploring how my movement could be informed by the sounds they were triggering. I tried to play with repeating certain movements in order to repeat certain sounds.

After exploring these seemingly arbitrary sounds, I decided that I wanted the soundscape to be comprised of phrases. The conceptual idea behind this section investigated the struggle between one’s hyper critical inner voice, and their ability to keep going and persevere. While moving through the space I trigger negative sounds of myself saying phrases such as, “You’re just not important to me.” and “Go fuck yourself.” By the end I find myself finding the one spot where I hear “It’s Okay”. Below is footage from one of the rehearsals with the new sound bytes. The final performance can be seen on the Become Displaced Performance Post.

Over the summer my good friend, and collaborator, Chris and I worked together on the creation of an interactive dance performance piece entitled Become Displaced. While the entire performance and it’s creation will be posted under another project, two components have been separated. Each of these will document the creation of a Max/MSP/Jitter patch that was used in conjunction with choreographic material.

Veronica’s section of the piece was to explore her relationship to her family and roots, through the projection of home videos. I created a patch that tracked her movement throughout the space and consequently would play the home movie. The struggle then became in her inability to watch the film. In order to keep it playing she had to continue moving, however once she stopped to watch it, the video would stop and start from the beginning. The use of audio directly from the video, reinforces this repetition when combined with the video. The conflict was resolved, when we discovered how she could watch the movie and remain physical. By performing small movements, closer to the camera, she could watch the home video as it was projected onto herself.

Below is a screen shot of the max patch along with two separate clips from our rehearsals. The final version can be seen in the Become Displaced performance post.