Thought I’d do a quick post on the rendering process going into my VR piece. I’ve confirmed today that I’ll be displaying the piece on a Samsung Gear headset, which is considerably better than my iPhone 5. (Bigger screen, better resolution.)
The rendering has been a nightmare. I’ve learnt more about the process of rendering in the past month than I’d ever thought I’d know. I’ve gone through render layers, passes, batch edits, shell scripts, render farms, network rendering… all in the space of a month. I’ve had to find quick and creative solutions to ensure that my piece will be viewable.
Re-creating my VR piece has been the biggest struggle over the last 3 months. I’d originally made the environment as a Unity game for an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, however, due to not being able to get one for the show, I had to re-make the piece.
Early last week I managed to set up a number of farms to get the animation going:
From tomorrow onwards will be a similar story. I’m basically just running around with a memory stick looking for computers.
I’ll do a further post on the content of the VR piece and how I’ve found ways to get around the issues of equirectangular content creation.
Gazelli Art House for me is really trying to push the inclusion of digitally based art in their exhibition schedule. Every time I go back there’s a new show with a digital twist. This time was phenomenal but at the same time bizarre and worrying.
I’m a huge advocate for Virtual Reality in fine art… of course… but there was a practical issue that many on the course had noticed at Jon Rafman’s exhibition.
The gallery had become an arcade or funfair, where the audience are queueing to experience the work. At Jon Rafman, the anticipation was created by the scale of the maze and the works in the other rooms. This meant that you didn’t mind queueing (it was also my first experience with a headset), however in Gazelli, there were 3 extraordinary VR experiences in two small rooms. Each experience had a long queue and it really did put you off. The redeeming feature was the reaction of those coming out from the headsets. You can see in the way they move and react to others around them that they feel as if they’ve truly been somewhere else.
The piece I most enjoyed was an experience that played on the idea of crossing between physical and digital space. The artist stood next to a plinth with a small cardboard house. You stand in front of the model, put on the headset, and all of a sudden (as is the wonder of VR,) you’re in the same room but alone, without a body and the little house is glowing. I haven’t had the opportunity to get the Oculus Rift head tracker working with a Mac yet. Unfortunately its a known issue so I’ll to wait for a powerful PC. This experience used the head tracking beautifully. As you peer into the windows of the house, you’re suddenly transported inside, where there are paintings and sculptures to see. Another technical aspect worth mentioning was the perfect alignment of a lever on the plinth and the lever in the experience. You don’t have any hands in the experience, so reaching out for a lever should be difficult to co-ordinate… but it was exactly where it was in reality. Very well mapped.
The experiences themselves are in many ways Gimmicky. Its such an exciting medium in an early stage so the content created is going to be simple and crude. (this may be a mad comment) but it reminds me of the impressionists with tubed oil paints. Look what they ended up creating!
Definitely worth seeing this show. Though I’m not sure about the Title. Lends itself to much to medium over concept, and plays on the famous phrase “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
I managed to go along to Gormley’s new show last Thursday. It was another packed viewing but luckily just enough space for everyone. The works were phenomenal. I’ve always been a huge fan of his work and his switch to 2d works beautifully. I’m definitely biased as I’ve been inspired by his work for years.
The oil paintings (literally) try to show the relationship between man and oil. He was covered in the oil, suspended from a height above the paper, and dropped. The outcomes are these beige impasto figures in semi-religious poses. In two of the pieces, the oil was pretty much still dripping behind in the frame. There’s an obvious playfulness with line and drawing techniques that aren’t evident in most of Gormley’s work. It really is a nice change. Although the large works caused the most excitement. I was a huge fan of the smaller A4 / A5 works in the second gallery space. They were linear drawings, with almost perfectly straight lines, without the use of a ruler. In the middle of the chaotic lines was Gormley’s shadowy figure. Other works were printed from wood cuts, the pattern still visible in the final pieces.
To make things more interesting, he recently had an operation on his leg, and therefore was sitting in the same spot during the entire viewing. You could hear everyone around us questioning whether it was an accident during the making of the pieces. Some even looking for bends in the leg imprints…. sadly it wasn’t something quite as exciting.
I recently went to see Thomson and Craighead’s ‘Party Booby Trap’ at Carroll Fletcher. The opening hall was filled with posters on potential quotes by figure heads and celebrities on the end of the world. (Common Era, 2016)
Opposite these posters was a well dressed salesman offering up the scent of the Apocalypse… (Apocalypse, in collaboration with Euan McCall) I didn’t dare smell it. I’ve never found false advertising very alluring. The ingredients were pungent enough to read. The most impressive feat of the piece was the salesman himself who never once broke character. A strange mix between a young cowboy-clad Joey Tribiani and Ledger’s Joker. In comparison to the posters, it was a witty, theatrical piece looking into the same subject.
There was a general party atmosphere complete with balloons that were occasionally kicked around the room. My favourite piece was in the second room, but I can’t remember its name. I remember that the reason I loved it was its simplicity and the fact that it wasn’t trying too hard. Thomson and Craighead, don’t know which one, probably both, who knows, had filmed the view from a window in Scotland for a year. They set up the camera some time in the mid 2000s and just kept rolling. The final edited video was a bizarre account of visual analysis that you would never really go through unless forced to. Each part of the film was entitled something like “Monday Mornings without Sound” and on the screen will be multiple boxes of the same shots on monday mornings…. with no sound… Another would be ‘Thursday afternoons with music’… and so on.
It was a different way of looking back at footage that only works with such a mass of data. I, as well as everyone I’m sure, thought this would be brilliant to do with CCTV cameras, we are creatures of habit after all. It was the simplified display of too much data that made it interesting. I’ve often filmed and photographed things for the sake of filming or capturing them because in the moment it seems right, but sometimes I have no eventual goal, I just enjoy the act of capturing and reflecting on those captured moments. Very often the scale of the photographs and films I’ve taken has been so overwhelming I’ve been put off organising them into anything edible. Seeing this sort of simple organisation of mass footage, and the effect it had on me in the gallery, has definitely inspired me to dig into the multiple hard drives I’ve been racking up. I thought it was brilliant.
I’ve attached the gallery blurb below, definitely worth heading along if you can:
“Thomson & Craighead present their first fragrance Apocalypse (2016) in Party Booby Trap, the duo’s second solo show at Carroll / Fletcher. The scent will be showcased alongside a series of major new works inspired by sources ranging from nuclear waste to self-help literature and genetics.
The late 20th century saw one of the most significant scientific advances to date, with the first mapping of a human genome (an individual’s complete DNA set) by the international Human Genome Project. It took thirteen years and twenty universities to reference over three billion base pairs of nucleotides (DNA molecules) that compose one single genome. This process has inspired Thomson & Craighead’s Stutterer (2014), a video installation the artists describe as a “poetry machine.”
There are four types of DNA: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, commonly referred to as A, C, G, and T. The artists seized the creative opportunity afforded by the combination of a sequence of letters and a crucial tranche of recent history. The time it took to complete the Human Genome Project spanned the liberation of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and the fall of Baghdad to the allied military coalition in 2003. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, Stutterer (2014) pairs each letter of the first human genome with a word beginning with the same letter, spoken in television footage from the period. The result is a televisual portrait of an era which encompassed not only the First and the Second Gulf Wars, but also the collapse of the Soviet Union, the deaths of Yitzhak Rabin and Princess Diana, the first cloned sheep Dolly, the launch of Viagra and the shootings at Columbine High School.
In October 2002, then-President George W. Bush declared that Iraq was in possession of chemical and biological weapons which “threatened America and the world” – an allegation which is now widely acknowledged as one of the main triggers for the Second Gulf War (2003-11). “Confronting the threat posed by Iraq,” he said, “is crucial to winning the War on Terror.” Thomson & Craighead’s print the war on terror (2016) plays with the phrase in a series of Oulipo-esque anagrams: “the rot narrower”, “tarot hewn error”, “rare tower thorn.” Made with a type-writer on a white sheet of paper like a piece of experimental poetry, these hint at the absurdity of the chain of events that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians in less than a decade. Multi-coloured balloons bearing the names of military operations from “Desert Storm” to “Urgent Fury” crowd the floor. These innocuous presences – absent-mindedly kicked about by visitors as they progress through the exhibition – function as gentle reminders of the pervasive nature of warfare. On a TV screen, some women dutifully pop the balloons after a corporate party, as if trying to contain a reality that could overwhelm them.
Created in collaboration with perfumer Euan McCall, the fragrance Apocalypse combines the scents of olfactory elements described in The Book of Revelation, including burnt flesh, incense and blood. Presented in a velvet-lined box, it turns a central tenet of the Western imaginary, and a canonical representation of End Times, into a luxury, limited edition item. At once highly desirable and sickening, the piece is the product of a time in which both consumerism and politics feed on fear, mysticism and fallacies of all stripes.
With the series of posters Common Era (2016), Thomson & Craighead gather a collection of predictions for the end of the world: from Nostradamus – who famously declared that all would be over in 1999 – to Canadian philosopher John A. Leslie, who more optimistically estimated it would be by the year 11120. The soft palette and hand-made feel of these text pieces stands in stark contrast with their sensationalist content. They almost recall the mindfulness colouring books that topped the best-selling charts in 2015. While broadcasting collective anxiety about the destruction of humanity and “the world as we know it,” they bring the viewers towards something much more intimate, to do with personal angst and the quest for happiness.
Help Yourself and A Temporary Index (both 2016), articulate this push-and-pull between concern for the common good and individual fulfilment. The first piece combines found digital video material, originally designed to prevent the on-screen accumulation of dead pixels, and a series of self-improvement tapes. Viewers can navigate them – going from, say, “how to attract money” to “weight loss” or, “sales motivation” by plugging headphones into different sockets. Meanwhile, on a large free-standing screen, A Temporary Index gives, in seconds, the estimated time it will take for sites storing entombed radioactive waste to be safe again for humans. These range from a few decades to a million years. The numbers are presented vertically and doubled up, standing like totems. Thus abstracted, they are almost as incomprehensible as the durations they represent.
Party Booby Trap (the title is a palindrome, like most of Thomson & Craighead’s exhibition titles) splices these temporalities: the deep time of nuclear decay and apocalyptic visions is put side by side with the dizzying brevity of the human lifespan (or a political career). The exhibition harks back to a seminal religious text, and links it to belief systems of all kinds, arguably including democracy, science and art itself.
Thomson & Craighead have shown extensively at galleries, film festivals and for site-specific commissions in the UK and internationally. Solo shows include Maps DNA and Spam, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, UK (2014); Not Even the Sky, MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen, Germany; and Never Odd or Even, Carroll / Fletcher, London, UK (both 2013). Recent group exhibitions include Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); Big Bang Data, Somerset House, London, UK; Right Here, Right Now, The Lowry, Manchester, UK; Art In The Age Of…Asymmetrical Warfare, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands; How to Construct a Time Machine, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (all 2015) and the Nam June Paik Award, Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany (2014). They live and work between London and the Scottish Highlands.
Carroll / Fletcher supports established and emerging artists whose work transcends traditional categorisation, using diverse media in order to explore socio-political or technological themes. From rising talents such as Constant Dullaart, Mishka Henner, and Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, to interactive installation artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and computer art pioneer Manfred Mohr, the gallery represents an international range of artists who use interdisciplinary research and broad means to produce work that reflects on and provides insight into contemporary culture.
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We provide more than £700 million a year to support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our £18 billion investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art.
Originally commissioned for LifeSpace Science Art Research Gallery with the collaboration of The Barton Group and supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. Courtesy of the artists and Carroll / Fletcher, London. Photo: Ben Westoby.”
Jon Rafman’s first solo show at the Zabludowicz was a montage of internet culture in a space that forced the audience to interact. There was an enormous sense of claustrophobia, whilst watching many of the films. it certainly captured the strangling element of life on the internet, as well as the barrage of imagery and its interchanging narrative.
Many of the works were very engaging in this respect, however, as someone incredibly interested in the Oculus Rift, (and in general just VR), experiencing Rafman’s virtual reality piece was really eye opening.
FINALLY I tried the hardware, and was in no way disappointed. Experiencing the animation secured my hopes for the medium. It really is entirely engaging, and gives the user the cinematography role. I can imagine that these early day films, games, animations and artworks will give an impression of its potential. Its the devices’ shift into search engines, interactive websites, social media, online shopping etc. that I’m particularly interested in. For a first time VR experience, Rafman’s piece is brilliant.
Over the summer I purchased a Leap Motion. Within days I was excited about its possibilities and began to play around with it in Processing. The concept for this installation was simple. The Leap Motion as a piece of consumer technology essentially gives the user the ability to interact with the computer in thin air, a sort of realistic attempt at George Lucas’s ‘The Force’… but instead only replacing the use of your mouse. Its a powerful, and very exciting bit of kit. I realised quickly that it would give me the opportunity to create an effect I’d hoped of for a while… for the viewer to customise the artwork to their preference (within set parameters obviously…. so not quite the ultimate customisation i dream of.. but a step in the right direction )…
The simple concept is that those using social media emit identities and have the ability to customise it.
First Attempt, as it appeared on the laptop screen:
In the Gallery: