The Geranium Project (R&D) 12

Monday 9th September. A whole day in the studio trying to resolve a scale issue with Unity when importing from 3ds Max.

I spent the morning trying to work out UVW unwraps on a model in 3ds Max and the afternoon trying to work out why the scale won’t translate to Unity from 3ds Max. The frustration is palpable. So that’s six hours with nothing to show but a set of questions I can’t answer. It’s back to school tomorrow! (I need to go through some tutorials to see if I can find the things I’m not doing.

On Tuesday afternoon I worked out that Unity is working at a 1:50 ratio against 3ds Max, so I metre in Max is importing as 50 metres in Unity. This means my garden was 6.5 km in Unity once imported.

Wednesday morning I was interviewed by Harlan at Axisweb for the website and for some publicity for the event I’m running on 11th October. It will stand as a marker for progress against the ACE project outcomes. In the afternoon I had further frustration, this time with updates to software that ate all my data.

I also made a new version of the real garden model, ‘realgarden_11_0919.max’ ready to try out on Friday.

On Friday I finally got the expert assistance I have planned for. There is an interesting dynamic working with other artists who tend to have opinions as strong as my own. Establishing the boundaries of working practice is the most important part of the relationship. The first thing we established was that frustration with software is universal, and that its best if you work to the same versions as your partners. I feel that I can see the direction of the VR segment of the project now, it will start in the ‘room’ – the physical installation – and the user (player) will progress through the video that is showing simultaneously in the space into a photographic version of the garden. From there the user can move through to the abstract drawing version. Now it’s a case of making it.

As an aside I’ve illustrated this post with images from the latest video, versions of which I’m filming and trying out on a regular basis.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 10

After a week off and installing the computer and VR kit at the studio this week was back to it.

Kit in Studio

The kit has to be packed away securely each day, which takes about 30 minutes, as the studio is in a high burglary area.

So far I’ve got an animation working thanks to Luke, one of my assistants, and I resolved the teleporting issues I’d had while the kit was at home.

I keep thinking this doesn’t seem to amount to much for all the time I’ve had but then a visitor tries it out and I’m reassured that it appears to be impressive. There is an advantage in using an uncommon technology but there is also the problem that the work becomes about the technology or that the technology dominates the idea.

I’m simultaneously disappointed that I’m not further ahead and pleased with the progress I’ve made, not that that makes much sense.

 

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) 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.

The Geranium Project (R&D) 02

New Installation Drawing in progress

New Installation Drawing in progress

Three wall view of the new installation drawing.

Another week effectively lost because of extraneous factors – as much as you might plan for breaks for a variety of reasons, they have a habit of arriving at the most inopportune moments. This week a planned break to visit family clashed with the need to organise moving studios and with the progress of the installation which gains an extra patina of angst due to the ACE funding. The fact that the project is financially supported makes it obviously more important that it progresses and succeeds. The funding was paid into my account this week which makes the thing real.

So I only really got to work on Friday and moved the drawing on as illustrated.

I re-read ‘The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu’ this week, Sven Lindqvist discusses the morality of seeking to live in art and his own efforts to do so and awakening to the retreat it represents. In the preface to the first English translation, published in 2012, Lindqvist talks about ways he has witnessed this imaginative leap, in Australian Aboriginal art for instance where the pictures are maps of territories that cross the boundaries of physical and spiritual and of his own experience of Fiona Banner and David Kohn’s ‘A Room for London’, a boat atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. He recognises that “Wu Tao-Tzu had the courage for solitude[…]He had the courage to disappear and continue alone, on the other side of the visible in art.”

the other side of the visible in art.

I had a visitor a week or so ago who suggested that if your work is not about the imminent threat of our climate emergency then what’s the point of it? Lindqvist comes to much the same conclusion, and presents the same lack of hope.

A mental picture of the space;

The Garden is not a copy, or a description, is it an equivalence (obs.)

You walk in the space. There is a path through the space. There is an apparently impenetrable wall around the space but on closer inspection there are gaps. Any hole in the fence takes you to another world (.wrl sense). Through one gap you enter a vast field, at a distance is an object, you can go to it and see that it is a framework of right angles with an ordered tube curving through it. There is nothing else in this space. Yet.

I have not found a way to make roses, yet.

There is the sound of birds singing some distance away.

In the garden a bird hops from one fencepost to the next fencepost.

A cat crosses the garden, curls up under a tree, slows its breathing and disappears.

If you are here long enough you will the cat will reappear, uncurl and walk slowly out the garden. You may follow.

A bird perches on the fence, a female blackbird, she calls shrugging her wings and tail. The call is echoed from a shortening distance.

It would be good to have a secret superimposition of the real and virtual spaces – there are three spaces – REAL – INSTALLATION – VIRTUAL.

Can (shall) I play the sound from the real garden live in the installation?

The Geranium Project (R&D) 01

Geranium Project

Geranium Project

Preparation:

Spent Saturday modelling a third drawing, subsequently loaded it and the previous two into a model of the garden and started rendering. It took twenty hours to render 12 seconds of video and I then discovered that somehow, I’m blaming the cat, the camera view had changed to perspective in the render window halfway through. 6 seconds of movement followed by 6 seconds standing on the spot watching the shadows move in the sun.

So I have a 12 second lead in to the garden, or a tenth of the 5000 frames, after 20 hrs of rendering. As things stand this means I’ll need to render for more than eight days if I could run the machine around the clock!

The initial render does give an idea of the feel I’m going for, a drawing realised in 3d, which you’ll be able to walk through and navigate out of towards other drawings from other gardens.

Today, Monday, in the studio I painted the boards with a coat of emulsion to be able to start the big drawing on Wednesday.

I spent my Sunday run thinking about how the space works as a garden, questioning whether the space needs to less abstract, or more abstract, how the ‘stories’ get told, what kind of navigation leads to the most interesting interpretations.

As this is the first ‘official’ geranium project post, this is the summary of the accepted submission, the what I’m doing for the next nine months statement.

‘Geranium’ is a room, approximately 5mtrs by 4mtrs, that depicts a garden as a drawing and by projection onto one wall. The audience can explore the drawn surfaces which include text and interactive elements, watch the filmed garden where shadows drift across the lawn suggesting people, and listen to the birdsong and poetry playing in the space. The interactivity works in two ways, some elements are to be touched and will speak to you, some will spring to life when viewed through your smart phone or tablet as AR birds or animals running across the space. It is designed for any audience.

There is a purple or pink flower with five petals, it has long palmately cleft leaves that are broadly circular. Drifts of these used to grow in my mother’s garden and in my own garden now, and I’ve always loved them. For a long time I’ve had a blind spot about the name, when I see the flowers I’m suddenly at a loss but when I can’t see them I can remember. It has reached the point where my wife refuses to tell me what they’re called. This is why the project is called geranium, after this lethologica (an inability to remember a particular word) I’ve suffered from for a number of years. I have wanted to create a space that tells a story since I completed my MA in 2005 and became fascinated with non linear narratives or stories that can be navigated by the audience. My intention is that encountering this space, listening to the poems and hearing snatches of the narrative offers one or two clues that can be explored through an online space or using virtual reality. I see the project as an opportunity to find out how to best present the idea to an audience and to use that initial audience to help refine the experience so that it becomes coherent and strong enough for exhibition.

Starting here!

Wednesday, after emptying buckets full of water from the now (hopefully) repaired leaking roof, was all about reassembling the installation. I decided it would be better to draw the interior with the guide of a projection of the virtual garden.

As a result there is very little to show. The installation needed some strengthening to stand up straight and I should build a stronger roof!

reassembled installation

reassembled installation

It took me all of Friday morning to put a roof on the installation so I could see the new video. I need to build a solid ceiling for the space.

I then spent the afternoon working on the new drawing for the walls. In the end grabbing the bull by the horns is the best way, or in this case grabbing the graphite powder with the rubber gloves (second coat). The piece is underway, but…

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

New Installation Drawing

I then had an email exchange about moving to a new studio! I’m picking the keys up next week and will then need to dismantle the installation and pack up to move the week after.

The video, by the way, runs to 27 seconds now, 55 hours of rendering, and it needs doing again as I notice parts I have to change.

NEW STUDIO Week Fourteen

Continuing with drawing this week, and having to concentrate on the 3d model because of the poorly cat.

six new drawings started

On Monday I started six new drawings, these had white emulsion painted on the 17th (Friday) and were added to on Monday.

Garden Drawing 20/05/19

Also began this drawing on four sheets of A1 cartridge. It harks back, as I realised afterwards, to the ladybird drawings I did an age ago –

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/08/ladybird/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/08/15/ladybird-2/

http://www.ian-latham.com/blog/2015/11/28/ladybird-2-finished-in-so-far-as/

All of these drawings are trying to find a way to realise the 3d model as projection and environment for the installation.

sketch notes 20/05/19

I thought it was worth including a picture of a sketchbook page with reflections of the day’s activities. I often write in the sketchbook or my diary to record the way I’m thinking, not really to hold on to it but more to be able to see how my thinking has changed through the process.

drawings continued

On Wednesday I continued working on the drawings from Monday, for some reason I didn’t photograph one of them and I can’t remember why. Wednesday was split up by a visit to a potential new studio in the morning, it has twenty rooms including a small hall/gym and a roof terrace and is just around the corner from where I am now. In the afternoon I had a visit from the architects for the potential buyers who spent two hours measuring for drawings so I’m on borrowed time at the minute.

Wednesday Sketchbook

I started to pick up the elements from the six drawings in the sketchbook and then developed three new ones from the bottom right sketch.

three new drawings

On Friday, as I couldn’t get in to the studio I made a model of the middle drawing.

There are also two new garden videos ready for project with a more robust model integrated as a walkthrough but I’m dissatisfied with the experience as it lacks the quality of the drawings.