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.
How things can change! I was made aware by a few people who had tried the early tests of my VR piece that the environment wasn’t necessarily a Church to them. The comparison given was the U.S. Capitol building.
I spent a considerable time focussing on a religious setting after the influence my research paper had had on my practice. From the beginning I focused on the Internet as a physical space and the architecture within it. Hearing the users experience made me feel that the environment is comparable to both a political and religious setting, which, given the nature of the internet, I didn’t dislike. Though, admittedly it wasn’t intended.
I’ve kept what was originally designed as a church / chapel going against what I’d decided a while ago.
I’ve reflected on the Internet as a comparable institute to religion and still believe that its use and ability creates a similar social structure based on live information. For example, stories of discrimination, abuse, or any injustice are shared and commented on. These are seen and read by tens of thousands, creating a collective social view on that injustice. The main issue with this idea is that internet communities are more secluded than I’d originally thought. The stories of injustice I see on my Facebook timeline are personalised to the community I’m a part of. If I lived elsewhere, in another community, it is a different story. (Of course this is a simple and obvious reflection that can be seen in any community online or offline).
This couldn’t have been made more obvious by Brexit. Since Friday, Facebook (and most other social media) has been set alight with emotion both positive and negative. Some of the posts have been horrendous, some very enlightening, however, the best one I read was a friend from Nottingham uni. He wrote:
“……and proof that my newsfeed is a terrible measure of public opinion”
I don’t want to digress to Brexit, but this comment gives the perfect insight into internet communities.
Back to the religious comparison. This idea has made me realise that although the spread of information allows for quick solidarity and reaction to significant events. It is also tailored to you as an individual and therefore doesn’t give you the insight of all points on the spectrum. I’ve always felt that the best way to understand a story or an idea is to read from both ends of the argument. This is in some way lost by the monetization of the net, and its focus on your individual experience (This is mostly true for social medias).
I’ve gone slightly off topic but the idea of Gateway is to highlight the importance of the viewer’s input.
I will post some more recent examples of the VR experience I’m building in due course.
I’ve been making some big changes to the VR side of my final piece. I’ve (just about) got over the fact that incorporating live news media won’t be possible s0 I’m having to go down other routes. If I’m honest, It’s a real blow. I wonder if I’d continued more ruthlessly with three.js at the end of last year rather than getting interested in Unity whether the outcome would have been different, but time is running out and I can’t afford to keep experimenting without a certain outcome. At least I know that with funding I can do it. Whether that funding went towards hiring a programmer to create a unity script using CEFGlue and scraping browser data, or just buying Coherent UI.
Anyway, I’m over it, and going with Plan B.
I’m going to create video collages of browser screen grabs and news recordings. This does allow more flexibility with the narrative on misinformation and religious technology and media usage.
I’ve been trying to design the chapel for the piece, and have decided to give Cycles render a rest for the design process. Blender Render gives a simple model-like finish. These are the native models without any texturing. I want to complete the basic infrastructure of the level before focussing too much on detail. These details will include altars, figures, pews, satellites and monitors. I hope to begin the texturing at the beginning of May.
I should mention that I’m unsure about the presentation when in VR. Part of me wants to put all the focus on the interior. I’ll decide when its more complete. Conceptually it makes more sense to stay inside the Chapel, but aesthetically, its nice to be outside…. A lot to think about.
The model is far from done, but these are the Blender Renders as of lunchtime today:
Actually…. I have made a change this then…. i added a window.
I’ve placed the new model in Unity and here are a few screenshots of it in action. (Lots of work to do). As explained before these are process photos, so theres currently no textures or lighting other than the smokescreen.
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!!)
My research has focussed on two elements. Digital Beings….. and the Virtual Space they inhabit….. The way I have attempted to represent these ideas has been highly experimental, and the hearty balance of media I wished for at the beginning of the course has yet to reach fruition. The act of researching the alternative to a real being in physical space from the point of view of a physical person naturally promotes a level of balance between the two but practically, in some cases, I’ve found more comfort in digital process over physical. My desire to physically paint has hopelessly diminished over the past 6 months, and instead an interest in combining physical drawings with 3D animation and processing has evolved.
A mixed media approach has always been my direction, however, their integration with one another is crucial. I feel my successes in the previous year have been in one medium, never the integration of many. For both the mini workshop and the Interim show, I’ve produced physical canvases, one oils, one inks (and wool)… the concepts behind these works have differed, “Society of Spectacle” visualised the ‘meta-city’ and its disconnected inhabitants, constantly missing the spectacles in front of their eyes whilst focussing on endless handheld distractions. “Congregation” is a composition of red-blooded empty shells of people each captivated by their own individualised sermon being read to the them by their personal devices. These works have focused on information addiction, which maybe goes hand in hand when trying to decipher the definition of Digital Identity, but then again, each individual represents identity differently, and its definitely a horribly broad umbrella term. After spending most of first year looking at the definition of digital identity in a very singular way, towards the end, I began to realise my interest in the representation of religion. I’m not a religious person, but I’m fascinated by religious art. In my eyes, nothing more important could have happened to humanity than the invention of religion. The ethics, arts and evolutions that have come from it are unrivalled. There are of course some very nasty moments in history where religion can be blamed, but I’m looking at it positively. Many of the worlds treasures would not have been created without a belief in God, and in simpler times, the question of the Unknown may have been a much more frightening prospect.
These thoughts about the online individual, his offline counterpart, how these individuals bunch up together to make communities and their eradication of traditions over facts, have then often been placed in images attempting to visualise the complexity of internet traffic?… The results have been aesthetically complex but conceptually very simplistic. I’ve spread my focus across a number of keen interests, and need to find more depth. Maybe thats the definition of quantitive over qualitative. But do these ideas not all come hand in hand? If we are to look at the stained glass windows of church interiors, the likelihood is the vast glass areas display what appear to be very complex aesthetics, but the stories behind them are intentionally made to be accessible to the masses. Or in fact maybe its the importance of an ethical question made simple to connect with the masses. Either way, trying to present overly complex ideas only promotes exclusivity, which has been, in my mind, the worst aspect of the contemporary art world in the past century. Then again, overly inclusive themes and concepts can be deemed ‘pop’ and sellable in an increasingly financial art world. As with anything, either side of the spectrum is extreme. I read an interesting article by Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones on Ikeda’s ‘Supersymmetry’ and how he believes that although the work was an impressive spectacle, the perceived complexity of it only strengthened Jones’s belief that Ikeda had no idea what was going on in CERN. Particle physics is complex, and therefore Ikeda represented it with aesthetic complexity…. but unlike Ikeda’s work… the complexity of CERN’s research actually means something. This has brought me back to my own work, and visualising internet traffic… Obviously the internet is a busy place, but empty lines can’t represent its manic behaviour, whats its made up of? what times and when is it used? The lines must be textured with media, or better yet, represent actual data.
My work with reactive sensors came to a halt over my sheer lack of experience in the area, yet had I successfully completed my aims with the project, I would not have considered the conceptual significance behind the ability to “turn on” a painting with your presence. At first. I felt the crucial aspect was to reflect the necessity for the individual to make an active choice to interact with their tech, and the internet. Now, its about why they want to. There was an interesting sets of stats released in the news about a week ago claiming that collectively people in the UK use their smartphones 1.1 billion times a day…. the average being around 40/50, and some extremists as high as 1000 times a day. What used to be an extension of communication has become an integral part to the way we think about everyday actions. But what are these interactions? Emails? News? Social Media? etc etc… Another approach is the Angler fish, and its use of light to attract its prey. This may be a route I take a little further. Going forward with the light – distance project, I’d love to create physical versions, however for the time being, and the recent success I’ve had with Leap Motion, I’m going to create it digitally. The narratives of these works will be an intersection of anatomy and architecture, fact over faith, the growth of global communications and the rise of narcissism in the online world.
Digital Architecture – Another vague term I’ve been using… At the start this was to me the information that makes up the web, and the forms they create when moving. This is still the case, however, I want my work to be more accommodating for people, rather than just residing amongst floating bits of spaghetti….
Its the beginning of 2nd Year, and quite worryingly, I’m beginning to think about my final piece. There a elements of it appearing in some of the work I’ve produced, but the equilibrium is yet to be established both in concept and process. I’m excited to get going, if only I could get into the building! Oh well… More self-obsessed dribble to follow.
These are few experiments with Green Screen stock footage. I’m considering my options for digital, figurative cityscapes. Green Screening a number of people is an option…
The first video uses a still from a virtual environment I’m working on entitled ‘The Chapel’, and is much closer to what i hoped for than the second video. The second video was just a bit of fun really…
I’m still really lacking on the sound front. This needs to be addressed.