The Geranium Project (R&D) 25

A week that promises to be fraught started with me getting to the shop early and installing the new white cloth projection screen for the installation. At firt it didn’t work too well but with the back material hanging behind it, it functions pretty well.

It did highlight the need to address the video, video with high contrast works much better. I then had to rush home.

Monday afternon I workled some more on the painted garden for the VR world. I also started to write up the text snatches to be recorded for the gardens and the installation.

Tuesday I continued to work on the painted garden, worked on the new videos and began to write this weeks blog so it doesn’t seem so thrown together. I got the open event advertised through Axisweb, but although I’d agreed an advert in doncopolitan (a local mag) I don’t think it has happened.

Wednesday was spent finishing off in the studio, sorting the hang and titling the paintings.

Thursday I made the labels and voted!

So Friday morning I rewired the sound system for the installation and set everything up for the open day.

On the day I had two visitors so in the afternoon I worked on putting some mist between the sections to make the transitions less stark.

On the Saturday I had no visitors at all, unless you count the man who was looking for the Junk Food Project who haven’t been at the address for two years or so. I worked on the VR section and got a lot done, finishing the mist, adjusting some scale and normal issues and introducing colour to the painted garden. I also made separate skies for the different sections and did some height adjustments to floors and so on.

 

The Geranium Project (R&D) 24

Another truncated week spent sorting out the space at the studio and organising the VR space at home.

The video shows how far I got on Wednesday with the installation, I’ve got until Thursday next to sort it out to a finished state.

I should be working on getting an exhibition together in a few days, instead of which I’m studying procrastination. Yesterday I spent time clearing the garden, today I cleaned off the yard and washed the car. I have at least four ictures to frame for the exhbition and hang next week, all the labelling to be done, and I still need to title the pieces. I’ve got two drawn gardens to put together and import to the VR that I need to be working and I’ve still got to work out the transitions between the gardens when I’m there. The projection needs to be resolved for the installation and I’ve should really change the video and work out the sound. Additionally I’ve not yet bottomed the PIR for the raining section of the installation. All this needs to be resolved in the next four days!

I’m rounding this post off with a few shots of the space as it stands today.

View of the Gallery

View of the Gallery

Progress of Drawings

Progress of Drawings

There are a combination of drawings and paintings which have informed the content of the installation and the VR world. The user should be able to recognise the paintings inside the VR space, how far that works remains to be seen.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 22

After a desultory effort at last weeks blog due to a truncated week this week was better focused and, eventually, more productive.

This is a better photograph of the drawing begun last week, I’m hoping to be able to interpret this into a 3d model for the hedges in one of the garden versions. The main thrust of the week was developing the interior of the installation upstairs while preparing for an event in mid December where the new installation and the VR need to be presented.

I spent Monday doing some work on the drawing and installing the projector for the new installation. I’ve raised the height to limit the shadows now that I’m not having the revealed texts, and need to limit the width of the projection to the eight foot square backcloth that you will be able to walk through. Doing this on a shoestring means that I’ve used a drip cover I had as the projection screen, after testing I’ve had to paint the centre of it white so that the video shows up better. The next stage is to limit the space, making the environment more oppresive and confining. This will limit the audience to two or three at a time, but that will (may) allow for the ‘player’ to leave the installation and enter the VR world.

Alongside this we had a heavy frost on Tuesday so I took the opportunity to photgraph the garden and on Wednesday I adjusted the VR to make the frost garden. The two pictures below show scenes from within the ‘frost garden’ in VR.

colour adjusted garden

Frost Garden in VR (the ground is icy now)

On Friday I worked on the installation, using the ‘Snow Line’ scultpure to build up one side of the installation.

Composite views of the new installation

Lit view of the new installation

Lit view of the new installation

The installation is taking shape now and I’ve created a couple of niches where some interactive elements will be installed – I need to introduce some lighting and at a low level and the sound needs significant work.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 20

The video shows the work I did on the virtual environment last week. I reordered the layout of the gardens and made a pathway from one drawn garden to the other. I altered the 3d model of the new garden, with the splashes, to use high poly models in unity for a better finish. It still needs work and more coherence. I’m thinking now of having alternative routes through the space and denying the ability to return.

building the new installation

This is Monday morning’s work on the new installation set up. By the end of the day all the panels are up, the next stage is to paint it all and attach the screen to the bar at the back. The idea is that the viewer enters the space, explores the alcoves (which will be sculptural) with the video projected to the back as before, and can then leave the space through the video, replicating the experience in the VR world. I’m also building a model of the studio so that is the space you begin in and then you view the installation in VR as in life but passing through the video takes you to the new spaces.

On Thursday I painted the new installation with an undercoat and worked on the VR world, but only after bailing out the buckets on the top floors.

I tried out making a photographic garden with all the planes mapped as videos, I don’t have the processing power.

I had to remove the videos because of the continuous glitching.

After Thursday the VR space looks like this…

The positive thing about the experience on Thursday is that it helped me resolve an idea for the arrangement of the gardens. I’m now thinking of four gardens, possibly arranged seasonally, which gives me a target for the modelling and textures I need to make.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 18

Student feedback on geranium – aesthetic

Still considering the feedback from the open night and the first group of students. At the same time I need to keep working on the things I know I want to achieve with the space.

I’ve noted before that the difficulty is to keep in mind the developments I want while taking on board advice and comment, especially about the experience of using the space.

Student feedback on geranium – technical

There are not really any comments on the technical aspect of the space, barring things I already noted myself. The sound needs a lot of work and the experience would be more comfortable with a wireless headset.

When the students were around last Wednesday a few of them broke a maquette so I’ve had to repair it. I left it until Monday after cleaning the joints. I’ll have to finish it on Friday.

broken maquette

repaired maquette

I also worked on the next iteration of the garden, the new ‘trees’ from the splashes work ok and will probably withstand much more detail and a better material finish.

The next phase, after the group of students on Wednesday is making some new materials from the drawings. I will also make some short video clips to try out the video garden.

On Wednesday I had the final group of students around to the studio, they once again confirmed the feelings of each group that has visited the space. The main thing I take from this is that nobody wants to criticise and people are basically nice.

Last group of students visit the studio

There were a few more comments placed on the board that confirmed the things written above them and spoke very positively of the experience.

I got another video that indicates that as the file size rises the space tends to glitch a bit more, I need to find out if this changes when I ‘build’ the space as an executable file.

It also gives a first view of the new space, in this case added as a ‘next door’ to the drawn garden.

Having got the visits out of the way I’m able to move forward with the things they highlighted, firstly I need to revisit the installation, reorganising it to make the space more enclosed and changing the interior to reflect the VR space more obviously.

new installation layout

I started to play around with arrangement of the space that can provide the more claustrophobic feel.

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