Starting Point: Projected Spaces

landform sketch

I’m ramping up for the next quarter, and have a handful of ideas I want to pursue. For one, I plan to do an independent study with Jennifer Steinkamp, exploring different possibilities for projection onto irregular surfaces. The reason I want to explore this is so I can create fragments of living worlds (like tidepools, mountain peaks, or other micro-climates⁄habitats) that occupy physical space. I have in my mind small islands that rise out of the floor that are activated by a range of animated forms.

beached jellyfish

At the moment, I’m collecting various reference images and gathering materials for a basic projector setup.

VJ Kungfu has an excellent video detailing how to build your own flexible projector mount. If you’re interested in securing your projector (or pointing it at crazy angles), I definitely recommend looking into their system. The mount consists primarily of standard lighting rig components. I’ve ordered parts and look forward to putting them together soon. Also, I’m getting up a projector to put on said mount. I started with the fantasy that I would get something super high-end, but talked myself down to a more reasonable $1000, 1080p projector. That way, I can still afford to pay my rent.

Chen Qiulin: A memory of place

Chen Qiulin at the Hammer

My brother was in town a few weeks ago and we stopped by the Hammer to check out the work by Chen Qiulin. Chen’s work is obliquely documentary; recording some of the now-submerged cities and valleys of Sichuan, China through video of narratives enacted on the condemned landscapes.

Of primary interest to me in Chen’s work is how she presents the landscape as defining the events within it. Collapsing industrial buildings tower over people, shaping the actions they may take. It seems as if all they can do is wander through the landscape, searching for each other, searching for meaning in their actions. Indeed, they can do nothing to shape the land around them, or to prevent its disappearance. And we can only watch as they progress down a linear path.

I wonder how software and installation can be used to represent landscapes as charged as these, how they can engage viewers in ritual similar to those enacted by the actors/demonstrators in Qiulin’s work. Can we guide people through the environment as effectively as the bride and groom in Qiulin’s videos? Perhaps we need some sense of inevitability in our work; to see an the next step coming, even as we aren’t sure of what it is.

In Qiulin’s video, we follow the actors as they walk the path of their fate. In games, we may need a guide to help us, perhaps we are one of the many men carrying peonies to the lake, and so instinctively stay with the group. In an environment, we can limit pathways, like presenting viewers with a staircase leading up to an unknown plane. At what point do these constraints become meaningful, and how do they shape the narrative for the viewer?

This issue of imbuing work with substantive meaning or context is one I will be tackling in future writings. Simply using a dataset to create an image does not make the image about that data. A higher level of transformation is occurring in successful work, a level which I am trying to reach in my own practice.

McRozinHodgin Dice Mirror

live dice webcam

Tonight, I decided to take another step in the short evolution of Robert’s fun dice-table images. Mario Klingemann raised the bar with his Aviary filter that transforms images into dice-images. In addition to all that awesomeness, you can now play with a real-time dice mirror in your web browser. Enjoy.

Interact: dice mirror
Source (.zip): dice mirror source

Troubleshooting:
Flash is pretty weird when it comes to accessing your webcam. Even after you click “Allow,” your webcam might not turn on. Open the settings panel (right click -> Settings…), then click on the little orb/webcam icon, then select your real webcam from the dropdown. For some reason the iSight on my mac shows up as three different cameras, but it’s actually only accessible as the “USB Video Class Video.”