Over the past days I have had a very interesting conversation with Taiyo. It covers some of our ideas regarding appropriation, collage, content…
Taiyo has published excerpts of this conversation, typos and all. It is valuable to exchange thoughts and open out to new ideas. I was initially intrigued by the animations she has started to post and contacted her because I found correspondences with what she was saying and doing with my current thinking. It is fascinating how correspondences manifest in things which appear at the outset very different. Is this because there are common threads, are these links an artefact of perception, is it a response to the context and environment? I suspect it is a little of all three.
The documentation of this sort of dialogue is very valuable and unfortunately not that common. It arose spontaneously and without the aim of compiling a document. I must thank Taiyo for having formalised this ongoing exchange from the seemingly fragmented format of the email.
The mapping workshop over two days was at time difficult to follow but it did give an introduction to the technique. The most salient point is that true digital mapping is not always necessary if one is wanting to project video or images onto a surface. The real essence of this technique is its ability to conform outlines to complex or awkwardly contoured surfaces so that the project appears to be naturally formed in that format.
Using meshes, the image can be transformed and altered to fit three dimensional surfaces. However, a simpler system used masks, which is the digital version of pieces of cardboard placed infront of the lens. I have a record of the lecture, materials and equipment, and some time after the residency, I visited Marius with Janet looking at possibilities for projection mapping her painting videos.
The first day was spent looking at the technical side of digital mapping and collecting photographic and sound material for our group’s collaborative project based on the neighbourhood of Peckham.
During our ‘coffee’ conference in a shop come restaurant each one of us visited the toilets which was a wonderland of notes and messages appended in any way possible. The effect was quite magical; it makes me think of some I could do for the project proposal.
Messages on the toilet walls where we had lunch. A strange form of Aladdin’s cave.
I took a great many pictures but ended up with using the recording of a road worker who asked, ‘where are you guys from?’ Peckham is a neighbourhood that has a rich immigrant tradition and I thought it rather poetic that someone who most likely was from immigrant heritage asked us, without knowing who we were, our provenance. I thought this would be an apt element in a work which responded to the heritage and architecture, both physical and social of the area.
The second day was spent making the video mapping presentations, one for each group. I spent a great deal of my time selecting, editing and composing various sound sources into one 36 second track. I would have like to have been more hands on with the video and get some experience of the process.
At the end, each group presented its work and one or more persons talked about the work and answered questions.
Our group made a collage of video and ‘found objects’ with a degree of format distortion. The blue hair clurlers in the centre referenced the pipes of the road works and the sound track contained the noise of pneumatic drills against concrete, phrenetic radio audio and the road worker mentioned above. Paola spent a lot of time preparing some cut out stickers of graffiti adhered to the walls.
Aristotle’s group was very aesthetic, with its colours and various images projected onto opaque, translucent and reflective surfaces of a found beauty salon cabinet. The effect was very lively and elegant. However, the projections were not really projection mapping by straight forward projections, masked and keyed to fit the various perspectives of the surfaces closely. The incidental spills of light added a touch.
Ash’s took the market motif and layered the videos to create sequential imagery on the wall and a separate image on the crate which contained plastic fruit. I like plastic fruit.
The final group with Janet was a simple and very elegant projection onto a plastic bowl painted white. This was the only example of true projection mapping showing images of Iris on Peckham’s streets. The image was reduced and fitted the bowl perfectly.
An introductory collaboration where we formed small working groups to work on a one day project. The starting theme emerged out of a poetic exposition of the art of seeing by Jonathan where an ideal society was likened to the growth of a tree: what if society were to grow like a tree.
A tree displays its leaves so that each one can receive as much light as possible and the living mass above ground is balanced with an equal amount of biomass unseen, below ground. The leaf metaphor proposes an vision for human society where every individual is naturally furnished with equal nourishment and opportunities. I felt that the underlying theme aimed at seeing the groups as analogues for a wider society and the project each one embarked on was its development, growth and flourishing.
We were given materials, artificial detritus, paper, plastic, leaves and threads amongst other things which could be inserted and composed in thirty-five millimeter slide frames and finally slide projectors.
We sat down and devised an initial plan to give us a framework to enable us to work together productively, creatively and enjoyably. At first we worked as individuals exchanging ideas but each one following their own initiatives, each slide being viewed with the projector and placed to one side. The variety of images was interesting and the whole process gave me ideas about how to create abstract images as a divertisment from my normal practice.
Having collected a large number of slides, a group self organised to create a slide show of the images on Apple imovie. They were captured by photographing the projections, scanning and photographing the slide in natural light with the outside environment as a backdrop. The confluence of approaches was collated on the computer selecting and composing a sequence that would be used for a final presentation.
While this was being done, I and Kelda created a shadow puppet show improvising characters and scenes with the materials available. The show was captured as a video by phone. The arrangement was awkward to film and the result had a perspective slant which had to be incorporated in the overall movie. A soundtrack was also created from the video sound and we also improvised sounds in a cupboard room to overlay on the movie video.
The exercise was not so much about the finished project, not even the making process but rather the process of working together and how very different personalities could come together to form something that holds more than its content. Seldom if ever do I have to cooperate as an artist with someone else and this was a refreshing experience that allowed me to slough off the burden of personal responsibility. Under time pressure, often a stimulus to productive innovation, I was able do things that I can work on in the future. Perhaps not for the MA, but shadow puppets would make a wonderful hobby allied to my main.
Obviously the final movie was incomplete, disjointed and at points incoherent but that does not matter. The overall did have a sense of narrative and humour evidenced by the laughter it elicited during its screening. The four groups produced very different final results perhaps showing that societies cannot all be the same and neither could they.