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) 17

Following on last Friday I’ve got a group of students coming this week. Monday was spent cleaning up the current file as much as possible. I’ve kept a copy for my visitors to see on Wednesday.

Presentation to Students from Barnsley College 16/10/2019

The visits start with a brief presentation that covers the studio (axisweb, insurances, precarity, etc.,) and then the ACE project and it’s gestation. This is followed up with a chance to try the VR and look at the installation. I then get people to feedback on the big boards.

Student feedback 16/10/2019

The students were generally positive about the work but there were a range of views about the validity of VR as an art form, how well the installation worked and whether the two elements worked together. So far I’m pleased that the feedback reflects my own feelings about the next steps for the work.

I’ve got a couple of videos of students using the space so I can get information about how it is used.

At the moment I still need someone to instruct the ‘player’ as they negotiate the space.

Do I insert instructions into the space, and if so should they be written or spoken?

After Wednesday I spent some time working on the new version of the garden, finally resolving (as best I can) the splashes into 3d models

The video shows importing, scaling and positioning some of the new models. There is still a good amount of work to do.

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) 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) 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) 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.