I’ve been doing some projection tests in order to figure out what’s possible for my thesis show. Here are a few of the more interesting pictures.
Below are giant projections of my studio space.
I’ve been taking a lot of photographs as I’ve been working in the studio lately, and thought I’d share a few. That’s about all I have time for at this point in my MFA. (Hopefully sometime I’ll be able to give this site a little more of the attention it needs.)
This piece is getting really close to being finished. And, wow, realizing how much my work has changed.
I’ve been hard at work working on the animatronics project. HARD at work. It is a huge challenge, but slowly but surely, I am making some progress. I am having to rework my ideas and rework my solutions as I go, as sometimes what I think will work best does not work hardly at all. I am learning a lot and am getting some serious experience in problem solving, especially as it relates to electronics, mechanics and building things.
Making things in electronics takes five times as long as any other process. There is no doing things halfway, or fudging your skills. Unlike many other making techniques, electronics either works or it doesn’t. Unlike, say, sewing, where your skills will develop as you go, but if you want to make something specific as a beginner, you will manage to make something as a beginner. Not perfectly, but if you had intended to make a shirt, you would have a shirt. With electronics, you have to get things absolutely right. For instance, if I’m intending to make a Morphoid move, I have to make a Morphoid move, or it’s just a collection of fabric, stuffing, and electronic parts.
I think that working with soft things (fabric sculpture, versus, say, something made of wood) presents a unique set of obstacles. It is tough to get any kind of traction on things- the stuffing has too much give. Sometimes, although it is moving on the inside, it is tough for the moving parts to be obvious on the outside. This is interesting to me, as everything I’m working on with this comes out much more subtle than I intend, which is actually kind of interesting and strangely appropriate. I have a couple of things that I almost can’t tell if they are on and working right away.
Anyway, I’m in the process of tweaking, or making version 2 for the Morphoids I’m animating…. hopefully there might be some video soon(ish).
The photo is of the insides of one of the Radiolaria. I used plaster to cover a child’s ball to make a hollow form for the servos to move a weight around in, which gives it just a twitch of movement. You can see the battery packs, circuit board that I soldered and the Arduino on the top, and the whole contraption will soon be going inside a ‘Radio’.
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.
Making parts of things in the studio, for a few different things…
– tree fort (sideways, glue is drying.), and roof.
– brick box (not a chimney exactly), made of MDF, painted and hand carved brick design embossed on top.
– merry-go-round – will use the lazy susan mechanism there, hopefully I can get it to work as I want to… (why am I always trying to make things so much more complicated than they need to be?)
– a rough start on a “pape and taper” puppet head – that’s the masking tape ball with the dowel through it – (it might turn into Pinnochio with an adjustable nose for a post-puppetcamp collaboration, if I don’t change my mind.)
– 2 sets of puppet hands, one for Pinnochio, one for Nose Man. These are just wire and tape, still need fleshing out and paper mache. You can see my little jig for the wire.
This one took me a little longer than an evening, to work out the details of the mechanics, finding a way to do it so that they did what I wanted and didn’t interfere with each other. I think the motion on this one is exactly as it should be!
I’m not sure exactly where this is going, as I’m not intending to make too many of these little toys. I am finding learning about the mechanics interesting, and am now getting quite good at being able to make what I want in my little woodshop of a studio. I’m looking at a few other kinds of things for methods of constructing things- weathervanes, marionettes, etc. I’d love to get some sound in there as well- music box style. I am envisioning this combining with other things in my repertoire, once I feel I’ve got some basic skills and knowledge of the material and process. I think this is the beginnings of “post-IMR” (although I’m not quite done with that yet….).
Stay tuned for more!
Here’s something I did just the other day (see the video). I wish I could manage to be this productive every day. Or, more days than currently. It’s been an uphill battle lately. (I’m at 15 rejections, and my recent health problems have set me back a bit.) Maybe that’s why it’s a flying pig- everything I want to do seems so incredibly daunting right now. That’s natural, I guess. Fly, little pig! Onward and upward!
Anyway, it’s not the most perfect thing I’ve ever made, and if I were to do it again, I’d definitely make some changes, but it did the trick of helping me learn about constructing these kinds of things. It was a good idea to start simple and build on it, although my ideas are way more complicated than I think I’ll ever have the skill to make. I’ve been doing a lot of sketching and drawing, trying to capture all the crazy ideas, some of which I hope come to fruition. This is the time to be thinking ideas, before I know what my technical skill can and probably can’t make- before I design projects to fit my mechanics. (I’m thinking large, and eventually my little skill saw just might not cut it… pun intended! Best $35 I’ve ever spent!)
Filmed in my messy studio… of course.
Anyway, building things….. making a mess…. playing again!
I’ve been trying to keep this under my hat for a while, as it’s been in the work for a week or so, but not confirmed- I have a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Calgary! It’s official now- I signed the contract yesterday! Super cool!
My work will be in the media room, and I will be showing my film, Morphopodia, and an installation to go along with it. At this point, I don’t want to give too many details, as I still need to work out the details. For now, I’ll leave you with a short clip from the film, Foraminifera.
I’m very extremely super awesomely incredibly excited about this- quite honestly, it doesn’t feel real! I don’t think it will be until I’ve installed the show in September.
The show runs from September 7th to December 23rd, opening September 7th! It’s coming up quick- I have a lot of work to do!
Here’s the clip- I actually haven’t seen the film on a screen bigger than our TV- I missed the EMMEDIA Production Access screening at the Plaza because I was doing the Trap/Door Gushul residency in the Crowsnest Pass. (BTW, here’s what this year’s participants are doing!) It will be good to see it on a larger screen- although seeing myself on film is a little uncomfortable….
These are just a few of the photos I took while doing my primary run through of the Bacteriophage dissection. Wanna see more? Come to the performance!
There may be another trial run with a friend, to have her ask some questions and practice with that, now that I know what will/may be inside of a Morphoid. I have to be prepared for all possibilities here!
A couple of days ago, I was starting to feel a little panicky with this coming up, as I still had a lot of questions and needed to do a run through. Now that I’ve had a chance to do that, well, most* of it, I’m starting to feel excited about it! I think if I have a general plan, and have a few ways of dealing with tricky questions, etc, I will be fine. I’m anticipating the audience to be mostly people I know, either old friends, schoolmates, colleagues, the new friends I’ve made through exhibiting work and the ASA – the people who have been nothing but supportive of me, and all the craziness this sometimes entails, whether it be a dissection, an artist talk disguised as a conference presentation, hauling piles of equipment through Fish Creek Park (which reminds me, I should post the blooper reel), spilling 300 lbs of sand in the elevator at school (Did I tell you about that? That’d make a good story for this blog), making you wear really uncomfortable things, building weirdly complicated structures in the driveway, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and getting you tickets for parking the wrong way in a fire lane. (Sorry, Brad.)
Anyway, working hard, looking forward to this! (And I may have some big news coming up, just waiting for things to be “official”!)