Thursday, 30 June 2016

Reshooting spinning animation

Over the past few days I have been learning how to use the green screen and chroma keying in order remove a specific colour from a video scene and replace it (keyed) with a different element. This is what broadcasters use when they replace the original background with an alternative background.

I want to create an animation of a figure spinning, and for it to be projected into a space so that it appears that the figure is in the space where the work is being played.

I used the green screen to record me spinning, but when editing the footage it was not possible to remove all the green as there was a green halo around me.

My next trial was recording me spinning in front of a black background and floor. The colour black cannot be projected, and so in theory, when I project the footage of the figure spinning against a black background, it should seem like the figure is spinning against a transparent background (and hence it would look like the figure was in the space where it is being viewed).

It is surprising how much black fabric is needed in order for the whole of the figure to remain in front of the black for the duration of the spinning. I used 2 different types of black fabric and found that one was too reflective but the other worked well as it was matt black.

I then tried setting up in a room with black walls, and covered the floor with the matt black material. This was successful, but the black walls were not quite black enough to produce the effect that I need.

I also tried wearing a different outfit. Rather than wearing black clothing which could appear rather dull and serious, I wore my orange dungarees and a teal blue jumper as well as the orange funnel I made for a previous performance. I wanted to try to avoid the video being read as a comment on body image and the female figure, and changing my outfit helped with this. The bright colours and sculptural cone also added to the aesthetic of the work. Wearing the funnel on my head is extremely disorientating because my sight is restricted. This makes it even harder to maintain my balance when I am spinning, and I think this is apparent in the footage. I like that the footage references a certain type of struggle, but does so with a sense of lightheartedness.

I am now going to source some more matt black material and cover the wall and floor in this. I will then record me spinning and will wear the orange cone and outfit.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

TRIGGER working again!

Today Pipi and I went up to Kielder to do some maintenance work on our audio installation. When we first installed the work, the solar panel was supplying the speaker with the power necessary to play the audio and it was working well. However, at the opening event we were very disappointed to discover that the sound was no longer playing and the speaker would not switch on.

Today we went to investigate the nature of the problem and try to find a solution. We were armed with all kinds of tools and equipment giving us plenty of options that could be used to solve the problem.

On arrival we checked that the solar panel was charging (which it was), unplugged the speaker and plugged a MP3 player into the solar panel to check whether the problem was with the speaker or the solar panel. When plugged into the solar panel the MP3 player began to play our audio. This indicated that the speaker was the problem. We had sealed the speaker in a plastic box and placed that within the box of the structure. All joins were sealed to minimise any water getting into the speaker. After what seemed like hours of peeling the silicone off all the joins, we were able to remove the speaker from the shelf within the structure. We were surprised to discover that the speaker was full of water. We could hear it splashing around inside.

It was clear that we were going to have to find an alternative to using the speaker, and so decided to replace it with the MP3 player and headphones. Once again we sealed all the equipment into place and filled any holes with silicone in order to prevent any water entering the structure and damaging the equipment. The MP3 player is powered by the solar panel, and because it requires less energy than the speaker, it should remain charged for a long period of time. 

Now all we have to do is keep our fingers crossed that the sun shines and there are no more storms. 

If you do visit, please share your thoughts about the work with us. We are keen to hear what you think.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Susan Calman

Recorded at the Hay Festival, the Scottish comedian Susan Calman talks to Raymond Tallis. Topics discussed include growing up gay, being inspired by Victoria Wood to become a comedian and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           how, after many years, she has embraced her dark side and realised she can be the most joyous sad person you’ll ever meet.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Chris Watson at Tyneside Cinema

Monday night was the preview of the latest exhibition at Tyneside Cinema, namely a 16 channel sound installation titled The Town Moor A Portrait in Sound by Chris Watson.

"Esteemed sound recordist, Chris Watson spent a year recording the diverse sounds of Newcastle’s iconic Town Moor for a BBC Radio Newcastle series. The material has now been re-composed to create an immersive sound installation for Tyneside Cinema’s Gallery."

Chris Watson was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. Despite travelling the world recording sound with the BBC, he spoke with passion about the exciting sounds he recorded so close to home. You can listen to the interview here
The preview was introduced by Chris Watson himself. He gave a bit of an insight into some of the sounds that we were about to hear, specifically those of the bats in Leases Park and the lesser water boatmen in the pond at The Town Moor.

Chris used a hydrophone to record the lesser water boatmen. Lesser water boatmen are the loudest animal on earth in relation to body size. To produce such an intense sound, the water boatmen "stridulate" by rubbing a ridge on their penis across the ridged surface of their abdomen.

Chris explained the speaker set up and how has been able to create the impression that you are listening to the sound happening in the same space as where you are.

The lights went off and we remained seated in the gallery. Chris had informed us that it would last for 38 minutes, and how that time flashed by! In those 38 minutes we witnessed 4 seasons on the Town Moor. I lost track of time, but kept recognising sounds from certain times of the year such as the fireworks on Bonfire night and the fairground attractions of The Hoppings. I had thought that being seated would restrict the extent to which you could appreciate all the different sounds coming from the separate speakers because you would not be able to get move between speakers and experience the sound from different directions. However, it soon became apparent that the speaker setup created an incredibly realistic experience with various sounds coming from all directions.  

As for the visuals, or lack of, in no way did this spoil the work. Infact, the sound was so rich that it was hard not to imagine what would be seen. 


Friday, 17 June 2016

KIELDER ONSITE - Opening event

A wonderful day was had by all on our visit to Kielder Water and Forest Park for the opening event of the KIELDER: ONSITE exhibition.

Our first drop off point was the Lewisburn inlet, the site of Simon Court's floating sculpture, Waveform.

Simon explains, 

"The idea for this floating sculpture began on Waiheke Island off the coast of New Zealand in response to the sea, natural bush and a working boat yard. This has been translated to respond to Kielder water. The form can be seen as a wave, crescent moon, or part of the Yin Yang symbol."

The coach then drove to Kielder Castle where we begun the walk along the Duchess Trail. The majority of the artworks were located on this route.

The first artwork we came across on this meandering circular route through part of the forest was Eve Kossmann's Forest Clock. This collection of handmade clay mushrooms are displayed in an arrangement resembling that of a sundial.

"This installation represents a documentation of time since the artist’s first visit to Kielder as a child. In an ever-changing environment mushrooms have remained a small yet beautiful life form on the forest floor, often overlooked in such a vast site."

Pyramidal Edifice is a copper and steel sculpture by Anthony Hensman. 

Anthony explains that "This sculpture suggests the structural order of the forest. Through use of the golden ratio, the tower mathematically structures the space at the edge of vision. Its exterior mass becomes a paradoxical container for the indeterminacy of the immaterial. "

A Long Wait by Mirela Bistran is an installation of three chairs that have been made from stumps of trees cut to thin the forest. This work contemplates the very slow regenerative power of the forest. 

Stop When Light Shows Red by Oliver Hoffmeister & Harry Pickup consists of a pair of traffic lights facing each other and suspended in the trees.  As night time sets in, motion sensors detect the movement of people which in turn switch the red lights on the traffic lights. 

"In this installation, the dissonance created between the urban traffic lights and the seemingly ‘natural’ landscape helps allude to the forest’s past of villages such as Plashetts."

Mirela Bistran's Tree Shirt  consists of a long piece of fabric, shaped in the form of a half-cylinder, rising from a stump. 

The intention for this piece is to resemble a shirt – a plain tree shirt – which reflects a matrix for all the trees in a monoculture forest.

Leina Taylor's "work reflects the forest’s unusual beginnings as a man-made site. 

 "Sculptures made up of organic matter sandwiched between layers of plaster occupy the forest space and slowly disintegrate, displaying the effects of the environment on its man-made structure."

Nearly back at the start of the Duchess Trail, we found J J Lloyd's artwork, Being Here. Nestled in a patch of land off the beaten track, a vinyl disc marks the spot. 

This is a giant version of the symbol used on the Kielder visitor maps to indicate the location of an artwork. The works explores reality and symbolism.

The group then made our way to the Observatory to see TRIGGER. Pipi and I were gutted to discover that the sound was not playing and the speaker could not be switched on. After all our research, planning and lots of effort, we were disappointed that it was not in the state that we left it. A potential reason why it was not operating is because the solar panel did not have sufficient solar energy to charge the speaker. However, there are many variables and reasons why it was not playing and so we will go up and investigate further. We are thinking of other solutions to enable the audience to hear the sound whilst standing under the structure. One possibility is to install a MP3 player and a set of headphones within the inside of the box.

A little way down the road is James Turrell's Skyspace, the venue for the Sarah Grundy's performance. 

The voice was employed to depict a possible future for the forest. Water was the focus of the performance using actions linked to ritual. 

It was a great day celebrating the completion of a variety of works made by students at different stages of their Fine Art education at Newcastle University.

Thanks to those who came along. I hope that you enjoyed it.

The works will be installed until 30th September 2016, so there is still plenty of time to see them for yourself!