Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Thursday Opening, June 5th, 2008

Both the Wednesday pre-opening and the official opening on Thursday went very well.

Thank you to everyone involved with the exhibit and at the White Stag space, the U of O Digital Arts program and AAA. Including: Colin Ives, Craig Hickman, Kartz Ucci, Michael Salter, Ying Tan, Frances Bronet, Zara Logue, John Woelfle, Michael Smith, Don McIntyre, Rachel Witt, Jan Reaves. The U of O Bookstore and Oregon Art Supply, and also True Value Hardware and Home Depot for supplies and advice.

Thank you to my friends and family.

Most importantly, thank you to the BFA group: Sam Buchanan, Joel Mertz, Justin Phillipson, Mariko Sasaki, Colin Williams.

Thank you to the Academy. Oh, wait...

Joel Mertz

Colin Williams

Justin Phillipson

Colin Williams

Mariko Sasaki

Ben Davis

Sam Buchanan

Joel Mertz

Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Ocian in View!" Part Two

Saturday, May 31st- I managed to fit the projections neatly over the drawings, with a few catches, the first being there is spillover on the top and bottom and sides. However, I was able to mess around with the projector placement on the platforms and also projector settings with horizontal/vertical position and image size etc to get a neat, clean look. There is spillover indeed, but it is uniform on the top, bottom, and sides, and I did my best to minimize the overlap in the center where the two projections meet. The thing about my two videos was the left is rendered in widescreen, while I was unable to produce the right in the same format, which I tried and tried to figure out, but for the life of me I must be missing an option in Final Cut or something. Nevertheless I got both movies to look about the same; the animations are not distorted, and are basically the same size, especially the aircraft and birds that cross over projectors.

The other matter is the second projection being a different color than the first, but I have been unable to solve this. The problem is not overbearing, but it is there and it is strange since both projectors are new and the same kind.

Anyhow, I was able to run the whole setup for several hours. The two issues were projector color and the projector throw (I also tried masking the lenses for this, but this resulted in fuzzy, discolored edges), as stated before, but otherwise everything went smoothly. I had to start the second movie about five seconds before the first for everything to sync right.

I have now finished installing!

Friday, May 30th-
The wall has dried and looks good. I began taking some of the grommet hinges off the panels.

Colin Ives helped me work through Isadora and try syncing the videos on both computers, but in the end we both decided the best idea thus far would be to simply play the two quicktime videos at the same time. Then theoretically the videos could run on the mac minis, which would run nonstop from the first open gallery day until the weekend, at which point the computers would be shut down, then rebooted at the start of the next week (gallery is open four days per week). In between the startup and shutdown days, one would just have to turn on the projectors during the day, and with remote controls at that.

I worked some more with lining up the projections. The animations are fine; I gave them plenty of white space sections in the landscape so it doesn't matter if they shift a little, but the trick is to get the projections to fit on the panels without spillover, and minimize the overlap in the middle from both projectors.

Also worked with my dad to tidy up all the wires. We strung the extension cords along the edge of the ceiling and down behind my freestanding wall to the surge protector and outlet.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Twelve Days's Worth

Wednesday, May 28th- Turns out the projector 1 movie rendered out okay on one computer, but the other computer ran out of memory when rendering projector 2. I took the first movie up to the space today and tested it out. It looks good, save for some top and bottom light spillover. The projector platform had to be angled a bit, and the tie rods bend slightly towards the front, but they seem quite strong. Speaking of which, I switched out the short rods for longer rods, so now I can actually hit the wall instead of over it. I had to cut some of the short rods off to remove them, and they take a lot of force, so these new longer ones should hold up.

The audio can get very loud, but obviously I can turn the speaker down. The helicopter sound that plays when the helicopter flies across onscreen is entertaining and annoying at the same time, but it kind of mirrors the real thing.

The earth magnets look good, so thanks to Kartz for the suggestion. They are small and strong and can be covered up with bits of paper later.

Tuesday, May 27th-
Finalized, for now, projector 1 and projector 2 videos, exported them both out of Final Cut. I tried to make absolutely certain the animations will fit when I project them on the drawings, i.e. putting them in places where they are practically guaranteed a large enough white space. Again, working with the Eastern style landscape perspective lets one bend the rules a bit with the composition.

The audio is interesting. Of the several hours of audio I recorded from the beach, most of it is too windy and distorted to be useful, however I was able to edit down about forty seconds of it to be used in a looping section, fading the same section into copies of itself. My bird recordings are decent enough, and the helicopter noises are passable, but I decided to simulate one on my electric guitar, using some overdrive on the amplifier and the pickup switched over close to the neck with the tone dial turned all the way down. I also stood over my bathtub with two basins of water and alternately splashed one into the other to simulate large waves breaking. I slowed these recordings down and set them to occur about every three minutes or so. They sound like a combination of swelling wind and waves.

Monday, May 26th-
Kartz smoothed some special putty(?) over the sides and middle seam of my free standing wall. Also, the day before she and Mariko glued nice-looking corner-covers on the sides of the wall. I am to sand and then paint these sections today or the following Wednesday.

A few other major tasks, those being screwing in the tie rods on the top platforms, and screwing in the bottom platforms too. Surprise--the tie rods are not long enough for the projectors to hit down and onto the wall. At this point they can only hit over the wall, out of my entire bay, and into the hallway about fifty meters straight across.

Working with extension cords and planning on how to staple them across the ceiling and towards the space behind the wall, where the cord should drop and plug into the wall.

Tie rods Colin W and Kartz generously bought for me; unfortunately they are too thick for the platform holes.

Panel 3 removed so the center wall seam may dry. I put it up too early and the paper warped--temporarily, fortunately.

Sunday, May 25th- In the space in Portland, Kartz suggested to nix the grommet hinges and use earth magnets, which can be set at the drawing panels' four corners and will magnetize to nails pounded flush into the wall surface on the other side of the paper. She also suggested to use four grommet hinges instead of the planned six for each panel--if I were to continue using them. Also, brass/gold nails may work well to hang them with. With both the grommets and magnets, I would still be using poster adhesive squares on the sides of the panels to hold down the edges; they still curl up.

For now I stuck up the drawings with masking tape to position them, accompanied by a level, and took a look at them on the wall for the first time. The wall is free standing, and it is important to keep equal space on either side of the landscape edges; something I did not do the first time out. I kept the panels twenty inches from the ground line, a measurement based on the height from the floor of a large window in my house. Also, it is a good height so everyone may comfortably view the work.

With Colin W's help, we screwed the top platforms into the ceiling after measuring where the projectors would hang over the floor. We also mounted the audio speaker platform in the middle of the projector platforms.

Notice how Ben's dad is doing all the work while Ben is taking pictures.

Projector platforms, upside down

Speaker platform

First hanging.

Saturday, May 24th-
Back in Eugene I talked about my aircraft cable method with True Value hardware, and they suggested I use metal tie rods with nuts and washers instead; this method will work just as well and is less expensive. The top platform mounts to the ceiling with screws, followed by tie rods dropping down from its four corners, followed by the bottom platform connected at the other end. The nuts and washers can be screwed up and down below the bottom platform to raise and lower it as well as angle it when projecting images. Straps, buckles and screws can be attached around the lower platform to secure the equipment. Finally, I am using two of these platform setups; one for each projector/computer station.

Laid out all the animations for projector 1, plus most of the audio, and completed about half of the animation layouts for projector 2.

Friday, May 23rd-
Walls built in the space. It took the better part of the afternoon. There were few glitches and they look nice. We will putty/sand/paint the crevasses in the days to follow.

Thursday, May 22nd-
I worked more on processing the animations through Illustrator. About half of us are planning on installing our work this Memorial Day weekend.

Colin W, Mariko, Joel and myself loaded the rental truck Thursday night in preparation to drive up the next day. I only put my drawings in the truck; I planned to take the equipment up during the weekend.

Wednesday, May 21st-
I met with Don again to discuss platforms for the projectors and mac mini computers, and he was willing to help me build them, while I should get some aircraft cable and accessories and hang them from the ceiling in Portland that way. This method may be pricey, but Don says it is worth the cost.

I showed Kartz another test projection, this time with looping ocean audio. She showed me how to go into Final Cut and use the Add-Subtract-Multiply function on the timeline to darken the images; everything is very light. Again, I am working with slightly, but not large, animations projected on larger white spaces elsewhere on the landscape, which has plenty of room to lay out.

The group is arranging to build the walls in the Portland space on Friday.

Tuesday, May 20th-
Worked like a machine to get the animation still jpeg files traced in Illustrator, scaled and readied for more tests on Wednesday. Illustrator will not pull each of the files out and open them for you; that takes some programming which is beyond my capability, but it will do the tracing and scaling by itself after you choose the jpeg file to open and begin the action set you want done. Saving the file is also manual. My animations range from things like the kite and picnic, which run 40 or so frames, to the stick being dragged on the beach by me as a child, which is 130 frames. I can work fast enough to process a hundred or so frames in about an hour.

Monday, May 19th-
Kartz and myself did more tests with the smaller animations projected on the drawings, and it turns out there is hope for my original plan after all. I was originally intent on fitting the animations into little spaces measuring several millimeters in diameter; but this is not possible/possible but the results are projections nobody can see. I adjusted where I wanted the animations, i.e. moved them around to other white spaces where they could be bigger. The great thing about this Eastern style of landscape is that it pushes the laws of perspective; small things and large things fit around one another in a composition that is nowhere near as rigid and physics-abiding as Western rules of the same genre. The other thing I noticed was that basically everyone else except me believed the large white expanse below what was drawn was actually beach instead of ocean. (I saw the bottom white stretch as a kind of misty, frothy ocean.) It's no wonder there was much confusion explaining my ideas on Monday, but now I understand where everyone is coming from. I will incorporate this idea into the work, but at the same time I like the idea of the sharp coastline dropping off into a white, formless sea instead of just jutting out of a white beach.

Michael Smith, one of the support technicians here who is helping us with our needs for the Portland space, suggested I talk to his colleague Don McIntyre a week before about building a platform for my audio speaker unit to hang from the ceiling. I did not get around to seeing Don until today, but he was very helpful in helping me create a platform. He said it would be ready by Thursday.

Sunday, May 18th-
The larger and revised versions of the animations, with red square placeholders left for the Chinese characters, were completed. I then consulted my father for the correct translations for all phrases: "Flying a kite with mom," etc. (Ironic considering my father is a middle-aged white guy who studied Chinese at the U of O for several years, while my Chinese-American mother is very limited in the language, and myself next to nothing, but that is a different subject.)