After having a meeting with my supervisor (Lucy Turner), she mentioned the Björk Digital exhibition that was at Somerset House last year. She said it reminded her of my project because it is also an immersive audio-visual experience. The Björk Digital exhibition involved users engaging with her performance through virtual reality, so they could hear and see her perform realistically.
“Björk believes that by offering a private theatrical experience, VR provides a unique way to connect with her audiences.” (https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/whats-on/bjork-digital)
This quote links to my project because although it is not a VR project, it is a 360° experience that uses both sight and sound to give the audience the opportunity to fully engaged with the work.
Lucy asked whether I had thought about making my idea a virtual reality project, and I explained that I did explore this in the Developing Media Design Concepts unit, however there were many things obstructing me from doing this; mainly being a lack of resources as well as relevant tuition. I also realised that as much as I like the idea of virtual reality, I wanted my project to be a more tactile experience for the audience, therefore having a physical environment suited my ideas better.
The music element of my project is very important, as I need to use music that is suited to having synced visuals. When I think of music visualisation, I either think of heavy drum & bass, dance music or more classical/slower tempo music. I decided I want to use music from people that I know for a number of reasons: to support them and their music, as well as not having to get permissions from music that has copyright. I know a drum & bass artist called Muzzy (https://www.youtube.com/user/Muzzy654), who has allowed me to use his music, as long as it is not being used for commercial purposes. I have also been given access to the music of King Tolla (https://soundcloud.com/kingtolla), who has more of a slow tempo style of music. As well as these artists, I will be looking online for more copyright free music, so I have more genres of music to try out with different visuals, because all different types of music lend themselves to different styles of visuals. For example:
This music is down-tempo and classical, which suits this floating, glowing particles effect. Whereas music more like drum and bass could suit more of a waveform visualisation like this:
Joanie Lemercier is an artist who predominantly works with projection and light within space, and “its influence on our perception” (http://joanielemercier.com/about/). I have been following his work on social media for some time now, and everything he makes is so inspiring to me and what I am interested in. He was the co-founder of AntiVJ, so used to do a lot of work with projection mapping for large scale events and performances, however his focus has now shifted to projected light within space. One of his most recent and most interesting projects is ‘No-logram’, in which he makes a screenless, interactive projection. With this, he is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with projection – the light is reflected by the fine particles of water, giving a 3D dimension to the work. Lemercier also explains that with this technique there is no limitation on size or scale, meaning that it could be used in very large public displays.
Another piece of work from Lemercier that I find very interesting is his project ‘blueprint’. ‘Blueprint’ is an audiovisual piece in which multiple screens and projectors link together to create a large scale, synced projection, that is broken up into numerous screens. The audience can position themselves wherever they like within the installation, and they will still be surrounded and immersed by the visuals, because of the use of rear projection too. Im many ways, ‘blueprint’ relates to my own project, because although mine is meant to be experienced from inside the cylinder, audiences will also be able to see it from out outside, giving a sense of enigma and will hopefully leave audiences wanting to find out more. Similar to ‘blueprint’, my work is about the connection of sound and vision, and how audiences interact and interpret it.
Deciding on a name/title for a project/artwork is said to be a very difficult task, so with still a lot of time before the deadline, I thought I would start thinking of my name. One of the main ideas I wanted to portray about my project, was the idea that it is two mediums joining to create an overall greater outcome. I also like using a single word as a title, as I feel it is can be punchy and memorable. The words I thought of were:
I like the word synergy because by definition, it is “the combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately.” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2017.) This is exactly what I see my project as; combining two separate elements to create an outcome more powerful than them working separately. From this, I started to do some quick designs on how the poster and other collateral would look:
One of the main aspects of the project I want to make full use of, is the full width of the cylinder surface. I aim to use 4 projectors, covering the 6.3m circumference of the cylinder. The resolution of the projectors is 1280×720, therefore when I set up my composition in After Effects I need to make the width 4×1280=5,120, which looks like this:
The examples of music visualisation I did in the Developing Media Design Concepts unit were limited to 1920×1080, and a lot of spherical shapes where used to fill this space. However, because I now have such a wide space to work with, I want to design visuals that will fill the entire space and engage the audience all the way around the cylinder, not just in specific places. Below are some thoughts for the ways in which I can design my visuals to make use of the full width:
A visual that is a long line in the middle, so joins seamlessly 360°
Something that is along the entire width, possibly a waveform visualisation
Two visuals on either side of the cylinder working their way into the middle
A visual that moves around the entire area
When testing projections against the polycotton fabric, it was clear the certain colours that worked best when looking on the rear side of the fabric. I tested this video (but forgot to take a photo):
It showed that the best colours were the bright ones such as reds, oranges, bright blues and greens etc – anything dark got washed out, and anything close to white was not as clear, therefore, when I am making my visuals, I need to keep bright colours in use at all times to create a clear and crisp visual for the audience.
After doing some more research into rear projection and the type of fabrics that are usually used, it became apparent that the popular fabric to use is a Spandex or a Spandex variant called Moleskin Matte (US) because these have a slight stretch to them, so they can be pulled tightly to create a smooth, clean surface for projecting. I understand that in the UK it is called Lycra rather than Spandex, so I searched for double width Lycra in the UK and could not find it anywhere. I also tried to get a large amount send from America, but with shipping costs this was not going to be possible.
Forgetting about Spandex/Lycra, I found out that Fabricland stocks both black and white, double width polycotton (which I know works from previous tests), so I purchased a sample of each colour to see which would work best with the rear projection of my work. Although both colours did work with the rear projection, the colours and outlines of the visuals were much clearer with the white polycotton. After this experiment, I will now go and buy large amounts of white polycotton for making the surface of my cylinder.
After exploring the artwork of Lorna McNeill, it made me very interested in the colours and shapes that are projected when a light source is refracted/reflected through a medium, such as perspex. When looking through the #kineticamuseum hashtag on Instagram, I came across two videos of what look like reflections but are actually light projection:
It is unclear who the artist of this work is, but I will be taking inspiration from it when creating the visuals for my project.
While looking at reflection art, I found artist Ela Boyd. Her work also heavily features elements of reflection and colour distortion through varying means of projection and holograms. As with the other examples of reflection and refraction art that I have seen, it is the colours and subtle movements – creating limitless shapes – that attracts me to this type of work, and is definitely something I wish to explore within my own visuals.
I was very inspired by the work of Lorna McNeill at the Kinetica Museum workshop; she uses a variety of materials and light to create her sculptures/installations, which are built to represent the journey of the Universe. I like the reflections that the light causes against the surface of the other materials.
After researching more into Lorna and her work, a theme of reflections begins to emerge, as displayed in the images below. The infinite colours and shapes that are formed when light is refracted through materials and objects is amazing, giving an almost magical overall appearance.
I spoke to Lorna after her workshop and she told me to get in contact if I ever had any questions about her work. I emailed her asking about fibre optics and the complexities of working with them, and she was very helpful in her response, however from what she explained, working with fibre optics can be a very complex and costly medium. I have ordered a small amount of fibre optic wire to experiment with because I feel it could add a new dimension to my project.
I am also going to explore reflection and refraction art further, as I would like to incorporate elements of this into my visuals.
To be able to have a rear projected cylinder, a suitable fabric/material needs to be chosen. Ideally the material chosen would be full width (to fit the ceiling height) and it would be able to be around 8m in length to fit the circumference of the cylinder.
Firstly, I took a couple of different fabrics into uni to test on a projector. These fabrics included curtain blackout lining, and 100% cotton sheeting. As guessed, the blackout lining fabric blocked the light and did not show anything through to the rear side, therefore meaning that this would not be a suitable fabric for my project. I then tested the cotton sheeting, and this allowed for the projected image to be seen both on the near-side and on the rear-side of the fabric, without it bleeding through to the wall behind, therefore showing that this type of material will be suitable for the build of the cylinder.
A few people mentioned to me about using polypropylene sheeting, however it is not easy to get hold of in such large amounts, so it would need multiple sheets, therefore creating a gap or overlap in the cylinder that I do not want.
Using cotton is cheap and easily accessible, so until I do any further research to find any better solutions, I will be using cotton. The image below is of the rear side of a cotton fabric, and the image can be clearly seen (although this was taken in daylight, so it will be even clearer when it is darker).