A reminder. Remember how to enjoy your own company.
I know I’ve posted something similar before, but I really needed to hear this again.
Here is the first semi-successful attempt at animating one of the Morphoids – Nephropoleon.
And a little about Nephropoleon. As you can see, the awkwardness is appropriate, but I am still debating whether or not I will attempt to make the movement more efficient. It could be more efficient, but right now, I’m not totally sure it’s worth the effort. The nice thing about working with Nephropoleon (and Arduino, actually), is that I have more than one, so could make a second version without destroying this one. Arduinos are infinitely re-programmable, so I can tweak as much as I need, and re-use the ones I no longer need for another morphoid, or another project.
This particular part of the project has taken me some considerable effort, even though it may not look like it. I needed to figure out how to build a sufficient structure to hold the mechanical parts so that they would work the best they can. I had to figure out how to program the Arduino to control the servos to move as they should, in the range and timing that they should, and how to get it to pause the program when there is not enough light- as in, when someone approaches the morphoid. (This is not evident in the video, but it’s an important part of the project.) Also, how to deal with seemingly simple things, such as how to turn the power on and battery changes. It is important that there’s not an obvious opening on the outside, so I’ve actually sewn the battery packs right inside, and needed to come up with a way to have access to the power switch (and be able to find it!) without it being really obvious from the outside. Also, a big challenge with these is the fact that they’re stuffed- the stuffing interferes with the mechanics on the inside- the resistance is enough to overpower the servos. I had to rig up a few different ‘guards’ to keep stuffing away from places it might cause problems. I also went through a couple of days of frustration when I kept having a problem where one of the servos wouldn’t work- trying everything, replacing hardware, reprogramming, redoing the circuit, etc. All the components seemed good, and nothing helped. I only got past it when I started over from scratch, although I still have no idea what the problem was, so hopefully it doesn’t return.
I am learning a lot.
I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but Matthew Borgatti, over at Har.ms has been working on making soft robots. I wish I had the facilities to look into doing something like this for the Animatronics Project, but I think even if I could, the components would take up way too much room to fit inside a Morphoid, even a large one. A girl can dream.
I am making slow progress in my own way, hopefully I’ll have something to post about that soon. (Essentially right now I’ve got parts of things, mechanics and code, all in pieces all over the place, but not lined up and working properly yet. I’ll share when I’ve got something that will be easy to see what I’m doing, rather than all this research and pieces of things and code that probably looks like gibberish to most people.)
Every day I was there, I took a photo of the studio from the little window in the extra bedroom at the Gushul Studio. It functions as an interesting diary of my time there. I did miss a few days at the beginning, and a couple days when I wasn’t there.
While cleaning out some old boxes, I found some interesting stuff from my childhood. Maybe I should start a new blog: Bad Teenage Poetry. Ok, maybe just a blog section.
Here’s the first entry, dated February 9, 1998. I would have been fifteen.
For your entertainment.Walls Thunder rumbles in the distance My walls shudder around me Lightning flashes Blinding the sky The walls quiver as I watch All my life, I’ve built these walls Made from stone and working hands My need for protection The storm presses against the stones I feel the pressure building My walls shudder again In vain I try to keep them up But these walls took years to build And seconds to destroy I try to block out the impending storm But winds whip around me Throwing me like a leaf in the fall breeze My hands cover my terrified face As I realize I’ve no protection The storm can have me now As walls are never sturdy enough- Pushing walls, they seem solid But there is always something stronger. I stand tall; proud When the walls hold me up But now I try to hide from the storm. Lightning misses me, I crumble more Rain pelts me, tiny stones from a deafening sky The storm has come back, Stronger than walls. These walls fall again What good are falling walls?
Journal 30: This Side Up (Side Down)
Journal 34: The Other Side of Fear
And just for a giggle…. Kermit on Strombo!
I’ve posted a few short videos of flipthroughs of some of my journals on Youtube.
Journal 25: Brain Damage:
Journal #28: Glimpse:
I thought I would share some of the video work available online from some of the other Puppet Intensive participants. One night we had a bit of a video show and tell/ heckling night, looking at video work from anyone who brought work to share. These are just a few.
Maybe I’ll start with a clip by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop- this is the music video to Feist’s Honey Honey.
Brian Fidler’s Ramshackle Theatre, with a trailer for their Sci-Fi Double Feature.
And finally, a short video by Shelby Lyn Lowe.
There is quite the contrast among all the work- I enjoyed that everyone came from such different backgrounds. Some ideas of performance, such as Rob’s visual poetry, are such an interesting contrast to my idea of performance, such as my work, A Bacteriophage Dissection, below.
(Ok, I’ll shut up about Puppet Camp now. Maybe.)
- Dress Rehearsal – Statues Excercise, with masks – That’s me on the far right. -
Things got a little crazy in the last few days of the Puppet Intensive- finishing everything up, running spacing and dress rehearsals, cleaning up, and the wind up party. I don’t have very many photos from this part of the experience- I was too busy participating. :)
For the final day, we started with our usual yoga-style warm up and massages, but no Suzuki. Breaking for lunch early, we went into the theatre to do our spacing rehearsal. The spacing rehearsal is to decide what needs to go where before the show, and who will help with setting up what, so that the show runs as smoothly as possible. There was some time where we were waiting for Pete to finish what he needed to take care of with the tech people, and everyone decided to take a nap. (Funny, I remember a similar picture from Katimavik, six or seven of us sleeping in the Katima-van.)
After the spacing rehearsal, we took a bit of a break, to get into our black clothes, and get something to eat. We re-set everything to where it should be, and ran the dress rehearsal, complete with all of the lighting and sound cues, black out and brown outs (to change the scene).
After a few Suzuki exercise demonstrations, our projects were up. My group, the Raven Girls, went first, with our short show about a baby who realizes it is actually a raven and flies away from it’s mother to join it’s raven people. A few more wonderful plays later (where we all had specific responsibilities to help with scene changes), we did our Epilogue, a short 3 second scene of the ravens eating the human mother. Then, one final show, Adeline, a funny little girl with a wonderful sense of adventure. To end the show, we did one of our favourite (self-indulgent) exercises- our Braveheart killing scene.
- Nose man puppet in progress. -
After all of the excitement of the show, we still had some work to do- cleaning our stuff out of the theatre and cleaning up the mess of open studio. I had picked most of my tools and materials up the day before, which was really smart. I traded a few of the puppet faces I had made with some of the other artists, so now I have a few faces to play with on my own. We cleaned and vaccuumed the studio, and then did all of our wind up activities, including our final games tournaments (Four Square, Rock Paper Scissors, and Pass the Woody), and gave a couple things the group had made to Pete and Juanita – “Ester’s Squirrel” and a little “Juaneedlefelted” heart.
We drank, and we danced traditional Newfoundland dances, as well as a few others, played some crazy games, more four square and a few we made up, and as the group got smaller and smaller, we said goodbye. Tougher and tougher to say goodbye. The next morning, getting up by myself, packing, and going to find some breakfast before driving home, I could almost hear the whispers of a puppet camp song…. “Sin jen jen jen…. ungame tanda zo….”
It’s hard to believe it was only two weeks, it felt like 3 months in some ways and two days in others, and I made some wonderful new friends. Whether they knew it or not, they pushed me in ways I would never have been able to push myself, and I think I won’t fully understand the impact of this experience until much farther down the line. We hit the wall, and climbed right up on over, and what a journey it was!
I will always remember the wave Caleb gave me as I was pulling out of the parking lot- a puppet camp theme turned joke, a long dramatic, reaching wave, which lasted (I’m sure) until I was long out of sight.
Goodbye for now, puppet friends! Happy journeys, and all the best!
Listening to youtube videos as I work…
Here are some artists who are using automata and mechanical principles in their artwork. I like that these draw from traditional techniques, but each artist has added their own unique twist, to make their own things.
Juan Pablo Cambariere
Here’s a video of Calder’s famous circus. Do you recognize the filmmaker?