This image may be an odd turn at hero worship, but whilst really planning the design of my church, I looked at the work of Alberti, and subsequently made the above image from a drawing of his face. After my trip to Florence in 2008, as with Ghiberti, I was amazed with his work. Santa Maria Novella is possibly one of the most surreal yet perfectly balanced structures in Italy. His architecture carries this same style. Balance, classicism, harmony, colour, detail, yet still open and not over-crowded. He was a minimalist in comparison to Brunelleschi and other Renaissance Architects.
I’ve attached a few architectural drawings from Alberti’s work.
There’s a reason I’m particularly interested in Alberti beyond his Architecture practice. He embodied the true Renaissance Man. Someone who acted and innovated between industries and sectors. He worked as a Humanist writer, philosopher, mathematician, theorist and architect. He was not bound by the confines of a single profession and such used the skills and knowledge from one to enhance another. This is where I feel the harmony in his architecture comes from, a deeper understanding of wider values and ideals that have nothing what so ever to do with architecture.
Its worth mentioning that he was wholeheartedly a city man. His philosophy and architectural aesthetic were born on a foundation of urban understanding. Living amongst others, on top of others, and the pressures this can have on both family life and architecture. These ideals drove his practice across a number of areas.
I’m swaying from the point a bit. I’ve seen his work as a significant influence. Obviously not in any way as influential to my practice as Nam June Paik, Virilio or Mcluhan, but still influential in Unit 2 specifically.
I’ve been interested in the aesthetics of architecture and its potential in virtual reality environments. The simple ability to create full sized buildings virtually is to me an exciting prospect. We could only imagine what Gaudi or Alberti would have made with this technology.
After looking at Franco Bertoni’s book on Minimalism in Architecture I came across Tadao Ando’s church:
The way in which Ando has used simple structure and natural light to perceive the crucifix in the church defines the beauty of minimalist architecture. Its beauty and meaning thrive from its simplicity.
Having looked at the prospect of the internet as a physical environment, I’ve come to think, what better way of showing that, than to create an element of classical architecture. It’s perhaps all a little too literal and like something out of Stargate, but it does the job.
I magically came across the mantelpiece of a fireplace. It was sitting by the bins outside Coldharbour Studios. It seems unloved, and I knew instantly that it was something I’d want to play with. Having hauled the stash into the studio, it remained there for some time with no purpose. Initial thoughts were to place a screen in it, but having reviewed and reflected on some of my previous work, I saw an opportunity to realise my hopes for the Ultrasonic circuit.
The majority of my research has considered the importance of the device and how it acts as our access to new information. My interim piece last year ‘Congregation’ considered it as the gateway to the internet. Here, I hope to take that concept further, and more literally. (As mentioned before in the Stargate reference.)
Back to how this came about….. After staring at this pointless, hollow fireplace taking up half of my space, I realised it was perfect for the frame of a classical doorway such as the one used here:
So I got to work transforming a fireplace into a door….
Here’s how I’ve got on so far.
It’s very primitive at the moment but it gives an impression of what will be done. Alongside this, I’ve been working on the Digital side of the doorway:
The main chapel is in tact. There is a lot of detailing and texturing to do, before getting it into Unity. When in Unity, I’ll be focussing on the different strands of media presented in the main hall of the Chapel.
Best to say this now, I’ve never noticed more of a difference between the digital and physical work process since approaching this piece. Whether they come together well is yet to be seen, but I’m positive that something will come out of it.
Only large bump in the road so far is displaying live news in unity. I was almost successful with a plugin from Coherent Labs, BUT they only gave me a 30 day free trial for it, and it costs £3000…. So unless I can convince them to offer me another 30 free day trial during the exhibition, I’m going to have to re-think embedding live news channels in the chapel. Another option is to stream it from webcams facing live screens. This will require multiple news channels to be on multiple screens at some other location for the duration of the final show…. Doesn’t seem feasible. I’ve been playing around with CEFGlue but again, no luck. The only other way I can think may be feasible is screen casting onto a plane in Unity. Surely if its possible to display the webcams output, its possible to display the screen.
This is my current snag, hopefully it’ll be solved, but I’m beginning to think of a contingency, mainly by using video clips rather than live news (which is tragic!!)
I met with Ed before the Low Res. We discussed how to organise the electronics for the final show. I’m still set on including a circuit that uses an Ultrasonic sensor to reveal an element of the work as the audience approaches, but the idea has simplified slightly. Instead of using LEDs, the plan is now to use Halogen bulbs as they’re brighter and can be dimmed nicely. I’m upgrading to a stronger Ultrasonic Sensor that will be embedded in the piece.
Ed attempted the circuit etching last week in the Studio, but we had some problems with the UV lamp. He’s going to attempt it again in his own time as I’m away until the beginning of April. I’ve bought and tested the scrim that these lights will be behind. I aim to create the shadow play with large perspex sheets, duct and electrical tape. The image created in the shadows will reflect a similar aesthetic to the architectural, linear images I’ve been working with. (See below). The sensor will be embedded into the doorframe of the final work. (More details on this to follow).
I will publish a post of the working circuit when I can to capture each component of the final work separately.
I’ve been thinking about how my linear work can better represent structured personal space. Taking inspiration from physical architecture seemed like the best way to go about this. Above is a structure i’ve put together to show a more architectural, habitable structure than those I’ve worked on before. This mix of physical architecture and digital abstraction I feel establishes the balance I’m looking for.
I’m pleased with how these pieces have gone. I’ve taken on board the feedback from my Unit 1, which is to steer my focus to create more abstract work. I’m open to doing this, and feel there has been success in these areas, though I’m still very set on having elements of representation embedded within these compositions.
I’ve continued playing with projectors on the surfaces of architectural designs. (In Blender). As I’m trying to texturise 3d Models with online media (most likely screen captured videos of news channels), I’ve been testing its potential. These are the second round.
I’ve finally started a physical version of the digital drawings I worked on earlier the year. I’m loosely basing it on a few of my previous pieces, but I’m trying to allow the process to dictate the composition. Beforehand, I’ve thought that having a detailed and structured plan was important, but the outcome of this continued to vary, so instead with this piece, im giving in to my instincts and seeing how it plays out.
Having recently framed a few of the earlier Signals works, (everything changes in a frame) I was pleased and excited by their outcome. Conceptually, there is an element of architecture to these voids, and their erratic nature gives an impression of the digital landscape but at the same time they lack a narrative. This is of course contradictory to my interest in revealing the narrative through the viewers presence, but you could argue that each viewer would have their own narrative of the compositions (like any art). Then again, with no revealed narrative and instead simply abstract contortions of lines, it becomes a classic example of justifying contradiction and curbing narrative to fit the practice.
Nonetheless, for this piece I’m letting the process create the work. The narrative and concept has been set throughout the MA.
Below I’ve attached 4 newly framed prints from earlier this year.
I’m interested in distorting the lines with a frosted Perspex over the top of the canvas, to give a more screen like impression. (I’d love to add lighting to this piece but I’m open to change).
This ‘smart space’ helps look at a world without devices. The concept of the work was to create an interactive, augmented experience without a device-based equipment. The environment senses a plastic sheet and projects personalised messages onto it whilst you move around the space. The image on the wall has a variety of games that allow you to interact with the technology. I can only imagine that its very freeing to have this interaction with technology, without holding a device. Probably as freeing as the Nintendo Wii’s first release.
Considering my interest in VR, AR and now MR (Mixed Reality), its good to see concepts around digital-physical augmented space without the use of devices. Perhaps this is a better progression from anti-social personal computing to open source sensor based environments. Or maybe a mix between the two? Who knows!
Photos, Articles and Video link below……
NO_THING – An infrared light framework that turns (almost) anything into a device
“We get to do a lot of thinking about the future of interaction,” says Milla & Partner’s Ingo Wörner, who together with Fabian Fuchs spearheaded NO_THING’s in-house development. Having realized award-winning exhibitions, show rooms, and trade shows, their team knows the limitations of the current generation of smart spaces all too well. “We were frustrated with solutions available to us at the time. While the arrival of audio guides, VR, AR or tablets has dramatically improved how contextual information can be accessed within a space, they create largely solitary, device-driven experiences; devices that have to be lugged around and that distract as much as they reveal,” says Ingo. Another problem is technology itself: devices age quickly (particularly when they go through many hands), require maintenance, and updates. With NO_THING, Ingo and Fabian tried to get rid of the technology altogether (they describe the experience as “close to NO_TECH”) by taking full control of the environment. “We wanted to create a smart space that is aware of my presence and that provides relevant information when and where I need it, without me having to carry around any equipment, punch in numbers or navigate a screen. To achieve that we use nothing but light — visible and invisible.”
To project onto a moving target, which is what NO_THING does at its core, the team first built prototypes with Kinect systems, openFrameworks, ARToolKit and OpenCV. To increase tracking precision, stability and overall performance across different light settings, NO_THING now uses IR (infrared) light, OptiTrack motion capture cameras (with in-camera blob tracking) and IR-reflecting foil for the markers. The tracking data can be accessed via a Node.js-based andSocket.IO-connected tracking server and allows a wide range of interactions – from tilting, rotation, and gestures, to movements and accessing pre-defined hotspots. The 3d projection mapping onto the tracked cardboard ‘devices’ is done in Pandoras Box (a commercial media and show control system) using a webkit layer as texture. The advantage of the latter: all content and interaction can be built and delivered with standard web technology.
A ‘holodeck’ degree of freedom demands a lot of the tracking and projection. NO_THING currently performs at an impressive 60 frames per second (a latency of 3 to 4 frames is largely intentional to ensure a stable image) and with a ‘device’ angle of up to 80 degrees. Additional sensors on the device would increase the tracking precision even further.
“Given the trend towards miniaturization and mobility of projection technology and seamless connectivity there’s an infinite potential for meaningful mixed-reality applications,” says Fabian about NO_THING’s future. From deploying the next generation display and lighting technology (miniature LEDs, lasers) to interfacing with ‘always on’ devices to the prospects of taking NO_THING outside of “controlled environments” and to the street — “It is as if the future has met us halfway.”
For now, the project’s biggest feat remains the manifestation of the interface. “The surprise transformation of a simple piece of cardboard without any electronics into an interactive device is magical. It gets me every time and personally, it’s what I appreciate the most,” says Fabian. “And while the commercial applications, as evidenced by our Expo 2015 use case, are myriad, I’d really like to see an artistic take on it, maybe as part of an installation or performance.” So do we.
NO_THING’s Expo Milano 2015 setup was developed together with Jan Hüwel of coolux (producers of Pandoras Box).