The Geranium Project (R&D) 16

The Geranium Project (R&D) 16

The video shows the run through as it was on 7th October 2019. This week is about getting some feedback to help determine progression. I have meetings with collaborators today and Wednesday and then an open event on Friday.

NOTES From Wednesday 09/10/2019

Mike Stubbs studio visit 2:30 pm

Look up Geoffrey Shaw, MS commissioned him in Australia, from HK University. Very experienced in VR, particularly dome tech.

Look up Drawn Code, commercial VR and immersive installations, based in Liverpool, have made portable VR installs.

Question why you need a built environment and why it would need to be more permanent, does the built environment have any intrinsic value?

Look up Society Art Technology (SAT) – Montreal they have a dome with 16 cameras, there is a 1-2 week timescale for converting media to run in the dome or it has to be specially made.

Would the installation work as another structure, dome, variable (adjustable)?

For the presentation:

Don’t show the whole video on the VR slide, if you give people the experience they won’t try it out. Maybe bring them back if there is no time for all to try it out.

In the installation:

Bleed the drawing onto the back wall, it makes more sense for there to be something under the projection.

Move the projector up and keystone it to the screen. The text on the back is not happening now so the waist high installation is redundant.

It needs a better sound quality for exhibition, but the installation with the film and sound forces you into your own space. A quiet kind of space, peaceful, spiritual?

Practically you need to tell people how to engage with the piece, how long does it last? Should people stay as long as they like or for a defined period? Does it have a start and a finish time? Put a notice up informing people of these things.

For the VR experience:

Ask people if they have used a headset (VIVE) before. Expect them to say yes even if they haven’t. Use the full headphones not the buds.

Before people wear the headset give them the instructions for movement, showing them the hand controller and how to use it. Be explicit about the direction of movement using this and that they can walk through the screens at the ends of the gardens.

Tell them that they may feel a little motion sickness or vertigo and to let us know if they want to stop.

Increase the speed, or at least the ability to accelerate.

Aside – Look up Damian Murphy from York St. John’s and remember John Stopforth.

Look up NOTES ON BLINDNESS – VR Documentary, about 6 years old was shown at FACT.

Are you going to the Aesthetica Film festival? VR section.

Check out ‘Eyes of the animal’ a VR experience staged in Grisedale forest by Marshmallow Laser Fest and ‘Ocean of Air’, used breathing to nvigate and change size.

You should stage the VR in the garden! – A precise location would help the spoken word element. Keep Writing!

I’ve copied my notes from the meeting verbatim so I have a legible record of the thoughts and suggestions I’m receiving. I have two boards in the studio on which people will write their opinions, suggestions etc., as they experience the piece(s).

There was a suggestion today that I exploit the sensation of VR, the motion sickness, by having tunnels between the spaces – rabbit holes. After thinking about this I’m inclined to keep away from this approach. The two key things I want for the space are that it is not attempting realism and that it is not a game space, it’s not about the ‘wow’ effect but is rather about reflection and calm.

Friday I tidied up the space a litle more before visitors came to the presentations. We had about a dozen people who mostly came for Andrea Berry’s very good presentation about her installation.

I separated and re-rendered the videos for the installation, the six minute version is too large to embed here and set the space up as a close to finished as possible.

The evening went well in terms of the reactions to the VR piece and the installation. The latter is seen increasingly as a thing apart from the VR and I need to work to reconcile this. The best suggestions (closest to my own feeling) recognised the need to make the installation more confining and have it reflect the VR world much more closely, the suggestion is that there should be sculptures in it that are also in the VR world.

I have two groups of students booked in for next Wednesday and the Wednesday after to get a bigger selection of opinions.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 14

Monday morning was busy with visits and conversations around the future direction of the project.

Conversation with Sally Lockey, Project Director for ‘Right Up Our Street’, Doncaster’s Creative People and Places project funded through the Arts Council. Wayne Sables provided the introduction. Amongst other things we talked about potential opportunities to show the piece, when completed, in Doncaster. We also talked about the potential of the medium. Wayne feels there are loads of opportunities to put it forward in a variety of locations. Pressure to finish mounts!

By the time I display the piece in October I will have the three ‘rooms’ that the viewer navigates and a system for movement that is smoother and easier than the teleport I’ve used on earlier films. This week is going to be modelling artefacts to place in the spaces and building the third space for import on Monday. Then it will be refining the spaces and movement, working out instructions and display requirements and so on.

Very little practical achieved on Monday.

Did discuss a few ideas with Wayne around what might happen with the space, one thing I am seriously considering is the prospect of being able to move the separate planes of the photographic garden while in VR.

Tuesday I began a model to bring into the space, potentially to be carried around.

Wednesday I imported the start space into Unity, played around with using video in the space, it gets a bit laggy when the video is running, and essentially made it work as a set of three using teleport.

Thursday I made textures for the start space and continued with the model from Tuesday.

Friday I met with Andrea Berry to prepare for the presentations on the 11th October and imported the new materials into the opening space.

Projection Space

Projection Space

I have film of the new opening space but I forgot to copy it! I’ll preface the next post with it.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 13

Monday I decided to stay in the garden for most of the day – I planted the space under the trees with wildflower seeds – to get an idea of the space before I continued the VR work. It gets very wearing to work in front of screens.

Photo model of garden

I’ve built a model of the garden, to the scale I need to load into Unity, from a series of planes with photographs of the garden mapped to them. It makes for a very small file and should give a deliberately unreal/real impression of the garden when you stand in it in VR. Last week working with Iain Nicholls we looked a moving through the spaces with the movement determined by using your thumbs on the handsets. Fingers crossed tomorrow gives me the opportunity to try this out. You can see from the model above that I’ve got a walkthrough in the scene, this is the video.

Wednesday began as another day of frustration. Eventually I managed to get the garden working with teleport again and the new garden imports. I need to work towards improving it and to make the movement better. The day was truncated as I attended a talk on ‘Virtuality in Art’ at Leeds University. The talk was presented as a panel discussion chaired by Steve Manthorp from the University’s Cultural Institute, with Rhian Cooke, a recent graduate who is an Associate Artist with the YSI (Yorkshire Sculpture International), Andy Abbott, socially engaged Artist, Commissioner, arts worker who works with new technologies and Dave Lynch and Christophe de Bezenac who are Cultural Institute fellows at Leeds.

– some references …

https://rhiancooke.com/CV

https://www.brad.ac.uk/gallery/about-us/contact-us/andy-abbott/

https://www.leeds.ac.uk/forstaff/news/article/5904/cultural_institute_fellows

After presentations on their work discussion covered a range of topics defining visions of ‘virtuality’ a term that nobody really liked. The key points discussed were around the amount of control you need to relinquish to make effective work in the milieu because your audience is inevitably involved in the creative act. This involvement ranged from the prosaic, Cooke uses projectors and mentioned that small children will make shadow animals that join her work, to the entrapment that Abbot uses to draw in participants, games, ipads, tech generally makes people engage and he uses that engagement to generate future iterations of the work, and the neurologically generated and/or social dataset artworks that Lynch and de Bezenac make in dramatic fashion.

I take a couple of points from this as paralleled or questioned in my own work. Lynch and de Bezenac discussed the way they manipulate peoples agency, or at least their sense of agency,in creating works that people ‘feel’ they have directly altered by their presence or action. They also discussed the amount of direction you needed to give, with particular regard to the instructions you needed to leave out, for a work to function for the audience.

Friday was another frustrating day, but not without progress. I imported the new garden and spent the morning getting the normals aligned so all the material showed the right way around. Then I copied and expanded the teleport area so that I can move anywhere in the scene. I then tried to do a build and in doing so lost the teleport function. So I have an executable of the space that you can move in but I’d need a warehouse to be to walk it all.

I then found that if I tried to use a different file I couldn’t teleport at all. I closed down and reopened but teleport wasn’t available. In the end I had to completely shut down the computer and restart it so that I could teleport, from the same file that previously wouldn’t. Unity is temperamental.

I did manage to re-import the photo garden and then navigate the space using teleport so I can move between the two spaces. There are things I need to do besides work out the walking script and trigger some transitions between scenes, I still need to bring in the sides of the photo garden as collections of images, and I need to work out lighting.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 09

Another one of those nothing weeks with everything feeling like treading through mud.

An appointment on Monday meant I didn’t get in until Wednesday and spent the day sorting and checking the wifi. Then on Friday I did some drawing as I couldn’t get the kit moved.

The big drawing from last week looks like a disaster.

large_hydrangea_blog_1608

large_hydrangea_blog_1608

And may likely be used to feed some smaller drawings. I started another big drawing and a couple of smaller ones. The studio looks like this now.

firday_drawing_blog

Friday Studio

The big drawing was reasonably successful, better than the hydrangea, and the two small ones have begun reasonably.

Large Drawing

Large Drawing

I did a little bit of sketchbook work as well to explore bringing the big drawing into 3d.

Sketchbook

Sketchbook

I’ve got a ‘procedure’ at the Hospital at the beginning of next week and then I’m away at the end of the week so there will be no post for the end of August,next up in September when I should be back on track.

 

The Geranium Project (R&D) 08

This week was supposed to be when I moved the VR into the space. Best laid plans and all that. I still need to sort out the internet for the studio and that’s delayed me for a week at the least. Life has intervened in other ways as well so part of the week was spent on the phone to Virgin Media.

I did get to the studio on Monday, continuing to work on the drawings I started last week,

Large Hydrangea August

Large Hydrangea August

adding some green to the big piece and working into the centre with black pastel and fingers.

One of six drawings made on Monday and Wednesday last week

One of six drawings made on Monday and Wednesday last week

As an example this is the development of the one I posted last week, another one looks like this now…

small hydrangea

small hydrangea

After this I got waylaid by virgin and decided to work on the VR at home for Wednesday and Thursday.

VR installation test

VR installation test

The first test I made works some of the drawings into a model of the installation space. The next two try to work the same drawings into the garden as a whole.

VR garden test

VR garden test

The latest has better materials but I’m still working out the problems with importing scale, establishing movement etc., should all be resolvable but I want to get it into the right ballpark before I bring the experts in.

2nd VR garden test

2nd VR garden test

this image and the next best illustrate the issue with scale

2nd VR garden test

2nd VR garden test

After 3 days away from the studio I continued to work on the large drawing, and did some further work on the small ones, but my major effort was to stretch some more paper on my new drawing boards.

large hydrangea

large hydrangea

small hydrangea

small hydrangea

And the studio looks like this.

Studio mid August

Studio mid August

The Geranium Project (R&D) 07

This week spent mostly working through the ramifications of paying people through the ACE funding. Actually quite easy to sort, and not too onerous a task when you’ve worked it out, but a real pain to find and understand the information through the HMRC website.

I decided I needed to get some greenery into the studio and this prompted a new set of drawings.

Hydrangea

I started a set of six drawings, this is one,

One of six drawings made on Monday and Wednesday

I also ordered some wood to make a large chest for storage – intentionally very heavy.

Large Chest

and started a big drawing…

Large Drawing begun Monday

I’ve worked further on this on Friday but the process is quite slow as the layers are added and I’m entirely unsure about the colours.

Progress on big drawing

This may well be torn up eventually. This week is a hiatus before the work on the VR component begins in earnest.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 06

Monday was spent installing the curtain for Andrea’s installation and then positioning ‘Snow Line’ and hanging the companion drawing.

Monday Prep

Monday’s preparation

Andrea’s piece is a re-imagining of her recent MA exhibition about motherhood.

Andrea Berry - Installation

Andrea Berry – Installation

It has lighting and sound so this video gives a better impression.

On Tuesday we finished setting up the gallery downstairs when Luke and Kim brought their work from Barnsley. Adding a black curtain over the white for the downstairs installation and hanging seven of Kim’s large images. Luke placed his matrix of nine small prints at the foot of the stairs.

Composite Exhibition Image

Composite Exhibition Image

The evening really started for us at about 5:30 pm and we had a steady stream of visitors until I was able to lock up at 8:20 pm. Generally people were engaged and interested and we had up to fifteen people upstairs by 7:30 pm, so maybe between 80 and 100 visitors over the course of the night.

It makes it feel like the project is officially underway, even though that’s been the case for six weeks now.

The prosaic stuff. As this was part of the Doncaster Crawl, Doncopolitan contributed to the launch with posters and publicity as well as a good deal of coordination over the evening. The cost was limited to providing refreshments for our visitors so the evening cost me about £40.00 – It is useful to note that this cost is personal because no events were proposed in the project, it being R&D, but there will obviously be some costs associated with the planned review events in late September and December. Filling the holes from the last hang and painting added another £10.00 or thereabouts as I had white emulsion in and only needed to purchase filler. There is always a good amount of time spent prepping for a show and this used 22 hours of the 96 I’ve budgeted for physical assistance.  The shop makes a good venue and the exhibition will remain in place for a month or so.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 05

Work on the big drawing on Monday 15th

Monday 15th was a return to the studio after a weeks holiday. The nature of a break is that it causes something of a reassessment and provides only thinking time, there is no time to make anything. I thought a lot about ways to create the drawings in 3D, whether doing this made the VR space an exhibition, if I was spending too much time worrying about that and I should merely make the world simply?

I tried out an idea for the space as a maquette.

Monday macquettes

Monday maquettes

On Wednesday I had a visit from another artist who is going to show in the space with me on Tuesday next for the Doncaster Crawl. The first publicised event for the installation project. A good portion of the day was spent discussing options.  I started an ‘inspiration’ corner to give any visitors an idea of what I was intending.

Inspiration board

Inspiration board

One board with some of my thinking and quotes from sources that have informed it – I need to work on some visuals for this.

Questions and Lookups board

Questions and Lookups board

On the whiteboard I put suggestions made by the ‘mentors’ and some questions raised by them and myself.

Afterwards I produced an addition to the maquettes.

Maquettes

Wednesday macquettes

Maybe the video gives a better idea of my thinking?

 

Friday was a day of tidying and organising for the ‘Crawl’. I cleared the gallery space,

Gallery space ready for Monday

Andrea Berry is showing some of her MA work and I’ll show the three ‘Snow Line’ works across the centre. Hopefully there will be some others in the space as well.  I’ll use the upstairs to show the beginnings of ‘Geranium’.

Studio space for Monday

Sketchbooks on one table

Sketchbooks

and drawings on the other

Portfolio of Drawings

It will all be ready for 5pm on Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Geranium Project (R&D) 04

The week started with some work on the latest big drawing.

Big July Drawing

Still work to do, the greys need to go back a bit and the top right ‘v’ needs more definition, the balancing wedge on the left needs less definition. I think the bars in the bottom right need separating as well.

I did some work on some smaller drawings too, but not with any great sense of direction so they may well be used as collage very soon.

June/July Drawing

The big action this week though has been resolving the studio and investing in some kit. You are constantly weighing up future developments against current availability with VR kit. As I write HTC are a few months (or so) away from launching the Cosmos, which may or may not completely replace the Vive. There is no indication of cost yet. The alternatives are a Rift s, still a slight resolution issue according to reviews although that gap is narrowing and the Valve Index at £900.00

In the end, weighing everything up as far as I could, I went for the Vive and a PC powerful enough to run it.

After buying the kit I need I’ve then spent several hours installing before I can operate it properly. This has involved several hours reading forums and faqs about the issues I’ve faced as I installed and led me to thinking about the way the art can be dragged into being about the technology rather than the ideas. So time for a reality check and a list/timetable.

I’m aiming for a semi official launch at the Doncaster Crawl on the evening of July 23rd. After this, early August, I’m looking to bring the 3d modelled drawings into the virtual space and work on refining that aspect of the project. The first test run of a full public outing will be in September, preferably early, and then again in November/December after considering and reacting to the feedback at that event and from Iain, Wayne and Mike. Repeat this before an event in January/February to test the final(?) version and then prepare a report and spec the installation for proper display.

The big issue is turning the drawings into 3d and developing the (implied) narrative.

This blog covers two weeks as I’ve been away for a week.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 03

Studio View

Studio view 24th June 2019 – tidied for meetings.

This weeks starting question – Is the urge to tidy up when faced with a blank mind a symptom of age? Is having a blank mind a symptom of age? Probably worth acknowledging at this juncture that my idea of tidy may not have a very wide currency.

I visited the new studio today but it’s a building site. I was told that they were stripping out inessential fittings, like the intranet wiring and some shelving, and I should be able to move in. I’d need a hard hat and breathing apparatus to be able to move in as it stands so now I’m fingers crossed for the place to be clear by Friday so I can move next week – otherwise I’ll need to do some quick thinking. I contacted my usual van driver about the move but he no longer has a van so I’m already at the mercy of strangers which increases the effort involved.

This week I’ve got three meetings that will largely determine the timetable for the project over the next nine months, hopefully starting with an informal launch at Doncaster’s Culture Crawl on 23rd July.

1819 pair_four_blog

I organised some of the drawings in the gallery to pair the originals, made last summer, with the new ones made in the last month or two. Each original drawing, which has a collage element, – http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/gallery/paired-drawings-2018-2019/ – is copied to a small sketch and then taken to the upstairs studio and reinterpreted as a pure drawing. It’s interesting to put them together to see how closely they match or quite how far apart they’ve grown.

Wednesday had a meeting with Wayne Sables http://www.waynesablesproject.co.uk/ who is going to give feedback on aspects of production and presentation as well as, with my other collaborators, engaging in discussions about the installation as it progresses. This is what the ACE funding covers, paying for the time of experienced collaborators who can challenge the work as it progresses.

Studio Corner

I also stuck up some of the newer drawings to keep the place from seeming empty, even though I expect to be moving, and began a big version of one of them.

Drawings June 26th

Large Drawing in Progress

Friday ended up being a day of meetings and a visit to the new studio – which now won’t be the new studio. The building is being turned into apartments and all but two rooms are inaccessible.

I met with Mike Stubbs, https://www.mikestubbsart.com/ who is a collaborator/mentor for the installation and Iain Nicholls, http://iain-nicholls.com/ who is specifically helping out with the VR portion of the project.

The week leaves me with a lot of possibilities for the installation going forward – we discussed form, location, looking behind you, the way you are guided through space, the outward appearance of the space and much more. One of my major headaches is going to be holding a firm grip of what I want to achieve during the discussions I have.