Monday, February 19, 2007

New Old Illustrations

Here is my finals from last semester's "digital illustration" class ... cowboys and western related illustrations. My personal fav is "tex" but my teacher prefered Cowboy Curtis.

For some really WEIRD reason, when I upload the first illustration it comes out in reverse color. So, to put it simply, it is BLUE ... when it should be Yellow. I guess google is still working out the kinks for their blog system. Oh well, I just want this stuff up. I'll post a REAL version later.

Comic book class tommorrow. Exciting.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Final Essay; Electronic KnickKnacks '07

My final project for Electronic Knickknacks came in two parts; the "Silent Running" installation and then "The Sound of Form". For a detailed description of "Silent Running" , please read the prior post. It also makes note of my motivation for making it.

As for my analysis for how successful it was, most of it's shortcomings were due to lack of resources and time. While I find that the thrown together quality and the "outside" installation did well at proving my point that man's simulated nature can never truly rival what is organically around us, I wanted some of my Max patches to be more illustrative and some of my footage to be more clean. I had the most problems with my deerskin patch.

While the peacock and the clams were simple equations in Max, the deer fur came out just looking like screen saver lines. It looked contemporary and "hip" as opposed to majestic and foreign like an actual deer. Still, I am happy with my descition to just let it be and continue going on with the project.

I am pleased with Silent Running. I successfully conveyed a theory using programs that were very new to me. While I am not an expert at MAX/MSP by a long shot, I do sense my considerable growth in being fluent in the program and am going to be purchasing the student $50 nine month package form Cycling '74.

I made the Sound of Form because I wanted to work with audio (Silent Running is ... Silent) but still have a final piece that connected with my background as an illustration/2D artist. Seeing that I already had interesting shapes, I did the most logical thing I could think; put the two together.
The Sound of Form makes synthesizer (cycle to be exact) bleeps for each rendered line segment or oval. When the cycle is put on random for one part of a value of a line segment, the notes are random too. I made a clam for one of the sounds and the end result is a frequency constantly getting higher and higher. It sort of sounds like a bomb about to go off.
The end result is fairly comical as the line segments and ovals gain a personality. It is also musical and could be interpreted as two instruments playing in a single song.
I was proud of the Sound of Form as it was a very simply patch that had a interesting visual effect.
Once again, I simply wish I had more time to investigate the program further. The instruments were rather primitive. I want to make shapes and pictures that correspond not randomly, but give a sense of melody.
Although the final piece was primitive, I still find that, conceptually, it was successful.

Class Essay:

Learning new "languages" has never been easy for me. In fact, I have almost always been pretty downright awful at learning foreign languages. Had I stayed back one more year in French class, I would have been in the same class as my little sister. It's because of dyslexia and hearing problems.
So when I came into one of the first classes of Electronic Knickknacks and realized I was going to have to memorize patterns, symbols and their meanings and code, I was intimidated. From the start I knew I wasn't going to make a groundbreaking, earth shattering Max patch. Then again, who can in six weeks?
With this in mind, I really, really enjoyed this class. As we got more into it, I learned that Max was a lot more forgiving then something like French. There was the max window who would always let you know if something was wrong, there was audio and visual that would always let you know if something wasn't working and there were never snobby advanced placement students who would snicker at my Max "pronunciation". And the help menus are a godsend! Overall, I found Max/MSP to be very user friendly.
I was never once frustrated. Well, maybe that's not true. I was frustrated on occasion, but I never lost hope. I felt like I could always make things work as long as I didn't bite off more then I could chew.
I think what I got mostly out of the class was to be patient with process when making art. In max, you can make incredibly beautiful images and sounds. But it requires patience; patience and failure. You have to take baby steps. My work is always very instant. I crave instant gradification. There is no such thing as instant gradifiation with Max/MSP. Thus, I had to "dig" and make little progress every day. My entire artistic process slowed down as a result.
I might never use Max again (I hope this isn't the case) but I do think I will take more time and be more patient with my illustrations.
The teaching was fantastic. Peter was super patient and was always supportive. He realized that everyone was at a different stage with the program and everyone had different goals. I really do hope he pursues teaching as he is a person people want to be around. He is calm, funny, intelligent and warm hearted.
His teaching could improve, but considering how little time he had, I can't really complain. I would have loved to just continuously see more and more artists who use max. I cannot stress how important exposure is enough. Perhaps if each class opened with an artist who uses Max?

I'm going to miss the Digital Media department ... onto the final semester of RISD.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

SILENT RUNNING Installation complete

Silent Running

Silent Running is an investigation of the patterns that occur organically and biologically in nature. It is also a comment on man's depiction of nature, what man longs for and is allured to in nature and man's desire to emulate it to the point of complete control.

Some patterns are technical, such as the Max/MSP patches that simulate clams, deer fur and peacocks by using simple equations on the television screens. Some are conceptual like the connection between butterflies fluttering around flowers for food and fish swimming around coral reef for protection and food. Also shown is shoot footage of India Point Park, Providence, that is put in the loop in the videos so the viewer has "down time" to digest what he/she is seeing.

There is an irony in the installation. The "outside" is fake. All the flowers were bought at a Michael's craft store in Warwick along with a 3" by 12" spray painted astro turf rug. But the televisions (often associated with just showing projections and thus, ultimately false images) are the only devices showing scenes that are real; fish, landscapes, equations. This illustrates my own person disconnect with nature.

As the class comes to a close and my installation is over (are these things ever over?) I want to offer the class a few questions on "Silent Running":

1. What is the most beautiful "scene" (be it on a television or in the installation itself) in the installation?
2. Are the butterflies beautiful or crappy?
3. When was the last time you had an experience/run in with nature? Does this installation emulate a pastoral scene or a meadow?
4. What is missing, aesthetically, from nature that is not illustrated in the installation?

Here are some links to artists who inspired this project. - Werner Herzog grew up on a remote village in Bavaria. He never watched movies, television and hardly ever listened to recorded music. He made his first phone call at the age of 17. As a result, he is a cultural "outsider" film maker (although he went to an academy) with strong connections and ties with nature. I was influenced by his cinematic landscape shots. - The film in which this project takes it's name from. Silent Running is a 1972 low budget science fiction film that aesthetically may be the polar opposite to a Herzog film. It is the story of an ecologist on a space ship attempting to save the only remaining plant life in existance. I was turned out by the film maker's "winging it" approach to special effects, such as putting amputees inside robots to save some cash. Conceptually the movie inspired me as well as aesthetically. - Kevin Bewersdorf's photos are not afraid to the "craptastic". He is interested with fake lawns, paint ball guns, shopping malls, American houses that were built to only last fifty years and essentially just investigating the current day American human condition. Like my installation, his gear tek corporation project investigates what happens when people do a low budget job to try and make something look pretty. : One day, ostridges will be more expensive then Picasso's.

process photos:

peacock drawing: Painted with gauche, put into photoshop, overlayed with finalcut on Max/msp patch.
deer drawing: ditto.

Monday, February 5, 2007

I'm still searching around for the CD of my most recent digital illustrations, which concerns me, but not too much. My priority right now is finishing up my final for both my Max/MSP class, Electronic Knick-Knacks", as well as the final for my Digitalia .
The concept is to simulate nature; one part using a high technology, Max/MSP, as well as low technology, fabric and materials bought at AC Moore's, in an attempt to obtain a higher understanding for it's form. In the instance of the high technology, I have summed up the form of a clam into a delicate equation ... similarly I have minimized peacock feathers to simple coordinate decisions. I'm doing math, which is refreshing and something I never thought I'd do here at RISD.

Here are some photos from the AC Moore part. I have a ways to go before it starts resembling a forest, but it's a fun process.

Updates coming up.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I think I have this blog thing down now. Truth be told, I'm still working out the kinks; I have no blog friends just yet, haven't really posted any photos, etc., etc., but let's put it this way, logging in is a breeze.

Somehow the aesthetic and design of this forum is so classy, I feel as if posts can only and should only be career/art oriented (plus just neat finds on the internet here and there). So that's what it'll be.

I'll update you with what's gone on. I did an illustration for OPM, the glass gallery downtown. A real quick job for easy money, but fun none the less. My client wanted a parody of those Charles Atlas ads from back in the day. Being very familiar with Charles Atlas the illustration was a walk in the park. Let's see if I can find the work ... it's on a CD somewhere in my room ... oh yeah! Here it is ...

Hmmm ... can't seem to find them. Must be in my studio down the street. I'll show them next post.

In the meantime, here are my Max/MSP screen shots. I worked for a good solid four hours getting the stills JUST right in order to make these pyschodelic clams. Making art with Max and Jitter is making me actually enjoy math. Pretty crazy.