Final Project Postmortem
I'm happy that I didn't have as many issues presenting this project compared to the last one. Making a final render and just playing the video on the projector is way easier than rendering in real-time. Also, projecting onto a flat plane is easier as well. Despite it being easier, I still managed to get one weird measurement issue: The projector should have a through distance and ratio that allows it to fill the entire back wall of the gallery; however, when I began setting up and aligning the projector, I noticed that the screen was not big enough. Even moving the projector all the way up against the back wall wasn't projecting the image large enough. I notified the audience and hoped that they could imagine what it would be like if it lined up properly - it was close enough anyway.
This was my first time using a new 3D program, Blender, to render 3D animations. Although the interface and controls are a little unwieldy, I managed to make some truly compelling animations. With the render settings that I was using: on average it took 20 seconds to render 1 frame, the final animation was 30 frames a second and about 3 minutes in length. It took my machine about 12 hours to render the final animation. I then edited it to music, added some static frame holds to lengthen the presentation, and finalized the video. I will be using Blender more often.
My plan is to rebound from the shortcomings I perceived in my previous attempt at 3D Projection Mapping, take what I’ve learned, and apply my knowledge towards another presentation utilizing a projector. Instead of mapping on 3D objects – which showed to be quite challenging and I didn’t have the right equipment – my goal is to evoke nuanced, but vague emotions in the audience by projecting imagery onto the flat plane which will be the back wall of the gallery. Again, the meaning will mostly be open to interpretation; however, there will be a clear direction.
In regard to the media, a 3D rendered sequence will be projected onto the back wall of the gallery which will appear to match and extend the geometry of the room. Imagery will be projected that causes illusions that the audience can experience. Color and patterns will be thoughtfully used to convey a short, but vague story. Since I will be projecting 3D imagery onto a 2D plane, I might ask the audience to close one of their eyes so they will be deprived of their depth-perception to help sell the illusion of 3D.
I was substantially distraught after I failed to present the sequence I spent the better part of a week working on. the audience might have understood the concept of what the piece was supposed to look like, but trust me when I say that the audience only experienced 5-10% of what the presentation was supposed to represent. My goal was to evoke specific emotions in the audience based on the combination of brilliant visuals synced to music.
Afterwards, I did some thinking: The main reason the presentation flopped is because I had to spend more time than I prepared for adapting everything to a projector with a different resolution and throw distance/ratio. Some extra time I didn't have available was spent finding and maneuvering the pedestals. Also, I didn't realize that the computer I used to render the sequence in real-time wasn't nearly as powerful as it needed to be in order to compute the dynamic visuals at real-time.
I would like to continue experimenting with 3D Projection Mapping; however, I would need to either borrow or purchase a projector I can rely on, check-out or bring a computer that has a modern, powerful GPU that can handle the real-time rendering, and give myself 30-60 minutes to prepare and align the projection map. Otherwise, I might not make another attempt at projection mapping for the final project.
I understand that roadblocks and unexpected hitches like these happen time-to-time when installing art pieces in a gallery - especially with those that involve advanced technology; however, I'm frustrated because I was completely prepared in terms of my project, but things that were generally out of my control at the time held me and my presentation back. Naturally, I would like to redo the presentation, but I realize that may not be an option.
Here is a virtual representation of what the presentation should have looked like:
I was planning to experiment with 3D projection mapping at some point in this course because of the provided projector and gallery space. I found that it was appropriate to introduce myself to the software and techniques involved. My goal is to mesh visual and auditory sensory input to give the audience a sort-of synesthesia. Powerful visuals and matching music combined with 3D objects to create an experience not many people are familiar with.
For 3D projection mapping to be successful it is important to get accurate measurements. I measured all the white pedestals in the gallery space as well as the dimensions of the room itself. I then recreated the room and the pedestals in Maya so I could experiment with positioning without actually moving any physical objects. Once I found a configuration of the pedestals that I liked, I rendered out a static 2D image that represents (as closely as I can) the same frustum that the projector will have. Then I could map the flat surfaces of the pedestals from the projector's point of view and script visual effects along those surfaces. The effects are mapped to music.
I'm using HeavyM to create the projection map, but it has some disappointing limitations. It's also really expensive and I'm not paying for it. HeavyM provides a 15 day free trial that has all features unlocked, but flashes watermarks occasionally.
Although very late, I finally finished and rendered my video project with the prompt 'death.' I would have loved to record a burning rose myself, but due to safety concerns among other things, I opted to use completely royalty free footage that someone else recorded. I also opted not to use many effects as to let the subjects speak for themselves.
I would have loved to been able to do so much more with this project. during the night before the Monday the project was due, I started rendering a final cut of my video. While it was rendering my computer BSODs and I have to restart. While rendering for the second time, my machine crashes again, but this time I can't log into windows. I've dealt with this before, but it's really annoying to get it working again. This time was different. My machine refused to boot off of my recovery usb drive or the windows 10 installation media usb. Since I have daily backups, all I had to do was get to a point where I could run the backupper and recover from an earlier backup. I eventually had to reinstall windows, then install my backup recovery tool, then recover to a different installation of windows. It took me about 5 hours and I didn't have my video rendered for critique. I was given a week extension for a small penalty and I decided to use that time to add a whole lot more to the video. Now it is complete.
I decided to enter the Student Success Building glass staircase (at the back of the building) and travel up as far as I could. I found myself at the theoretical "5th floor." This was essentially a door that lead to roof access - nothing more. The room was the length of the stairwell and the width was just enough enough space for a small catwalk. I will be including the stairs leading up to the top as well.
As the floor number increases, foot traffic in the SSB substantially decreases. Students are only interested in the first 2 floors, faculty and staff are focused on 3 and 4, but 5 is by far the quietest. That's only counting the people that used the staircase instead of the 2 elevators that are available just before the entrance.
Each flight of stairs contained 12 steps (including the top step) and each floor had 2 flights between them.
3 sides of the stairwell are effectively windows that overlook Auraria parkway and the northern parts of downtown. The Pepsi-center, Eliches, and Sports Authority field being the most prominent. Motor vehicles constantly pass by on the road beneath.
A constant, low hum is emitted from the air circulation unit just beyond the back wall, hidden by a large vent cover. The echoes of footsteps and doors opening and closing emanate throughout the open stairwell. The faint sound of engines penetrate the windows as vehicles pass by. An occasional voice can be overheard.
Over the course of the 30 minutes absolutely nothing changed on the 5th floor of the stairwell; however, many people traversed floors below.
Here are some pictures I took while at the top of the stairwell
Here's a photo-sphere I tried to make with my phone - which didn't work very well - but you can get an idea of the space.
I also recorded some room-tone which has a really neat aesthetic.
One sound in particular I can't quite identify. I believe it to be an exterior door with a heavy latch at the bottom of the stairwell, but I didn't see what was causing the banging.
Video Screening Critiques
Performance Art Postmortem
It was surprising to me how challenging it would be to play a 5 minute video using the projector as the display output. I originally wanted to plug the USB 3.0 drive directly into one of the USB ports on the projector and play the video file directly on the device, but for whatever reason the projector only supports playing .avi file format videos natively. I wanted to use h.264 instead because it supports more resolutions and frame-rates as well as better compression. The solution was to use a supplementary computer (a laptop in this case) to play the video file over hdmi. I checked out a dell laptop from the IT department and tried plugging my USB 3.0 drive into that. For whatever reason, the windows 7 image the IT department flashed to all the computers they let students borrow has an incompatibility with USB 3.0 devices even though the technology is backwards compatible. It was only until I brought my own computer that I could actually present.
I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to postpone my presentation because if I were to present a week ago the presentation would be lacking in content. I was able to include audio (which allowed me to utilize audio cues) and add an entire 3rd section.
The laser projector (PowerLite Home Cinema 1440) was able to display my video file at native hd resolution and it's refresh rate was quick enough to allow me to utilize 60fps video. It took balancing it on a brick to align it properly, but the projector worked great. I brought in a Bluetooth speaker that played the audio synced to the video which worked quite well, although lacking in bass because of its size.
I feel that my performance was on-par with what I had imagined and the audience quite liked it and interpreted it in different ways - which was my intention.
Performance Art Preparation
If Performance art pieces can be ordered on a scale from cringey to tasteful. I would like to preform in a way that can be classified as awe-inspiring/ tasteful. It would make it easier on me and my audience.
I found it difficult to motivate myself to act a fool on stage in front of my peers, but I found a better approach that did in-fact motivate me to work on this project. By supplementing my performance with technology and design, I engaged myself by allowing myself to learn a new technique while simultaneously creating a performance.
My plan is to utilize a powerful projector and some strategic placement to create a visually engaging performance using my body. The projector will be placed so that it casts an image 13ft wide and about 8ft tall along the 13'3" wall in the gallery almost filling the wall. the image will be lined up with the floor of the room so that I can stand in front of the projection and interact with it in interesting ways.
Colors, textures, patterns, objects, and effects will be animated and projected onto my body in the form of short sections, or chapters. Some animations will be masked to just my body - as if it were a simplified form of projection mapping - others will be able to extend past the bounds of the shape of my body.
In terms of interaction, I don't see much need to incorporate any interactive elements to the performance. However, audience members will be free to cast shadows on the borders of the projection whether intentionally or not.
Using some math of varying difficulty, I was able to calculate the distance the projector needs to be from the wall (throw distance and ratio) in order to effectively fill the wall.
A final video will be rendered (about 5 minutes in length) that will be transported on a USB drive and played over a small laptop attached to the projector.
In reference to the fifth Touch Poem written in autumn of 1963 by Yoko Ono, I spent half an hour over-examining the bricks and their patterns around the Auraria campus.
The bricks are cold and damp to the touch. Their joints tend to be packed with eroded debris. They are sturdy and mostly flat however all the bricks have a distinct, but similar texture. The tactile feeling is abrasive and is not pleasant to the skin.
Passers by are curious as to the intent of my actions, as am I. They mostly glance for a moment, then return to what they were doing. Most likely forgetting about the entire situation within minutes.
Although I was planning to use 100 paper airplanes, it was far too windy and tedious to tie and place the airplanes over the slats on the bridge. I settled for about 30. It still appears substantial, but it's not as grandiose a piece as I was hoping. Perhaps if I had more energy coming off of my illness or conditions were better I would have been able to get at least 50 up. That said, waking underneath the bridge is quite the experience now; the airplanes are completely hidden from above and so it's quite a surprise looking up at all the motion underneath the bridge. I feel like this was successful, even if it wasn't to the fullest extent I was expecting.
Intervention Installation Sketch
My plan is to hang about 100 paper airplanes - or objects of similar quality - on the underside of the pedestrian bridge behind the south-west entrance to the Art and Design Center of the Arapahoe Community College campus. I attended ACC before transferring to Metro and I participated in the work-study program. The bridge in question is the same bridge that has a sidewalk on the underpass that is accessible from the Littleton Downtown Light-rail station. I plan to use fishing line and tape to affix the airplanes/ objects under the bridge keeping clearance in mind (8-12 feet clearance). There shouldn't be an issue with accessibility to the bridge because the installation would be non-intrusive. Fishing line will be laid over the wooden slats that the bridge is comprised of and can be walked on.
The installation will not be provocative or politically charged. The intent is to have very subtle messaging that if anything will be positive towards ACC and the Art and Design Center. Perhaps representing students transitioning through and beyond ACC. The meaning is intentionally up for interpretation.
I decided to hide my card - the ace of spades - in a very difficult location to guess, but one that can still be found. I hid the ace of spades in a particular book on the second floor of the auraria library. You don't have to look in the book because the card is sticking out, but it's hard to find without looking in the right place.
Since the MySpace era, Facebook has taken over as the globally recognized social media platform. Although the platform is highly popular - most of the population is familiar with it - it's not perfect. There have been some controversies surrounding Facebook over the years and the content on the site has had a noticeable change in quality. Below is a social-commentary piece inspired by Facebook's sign-up page.