Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Residency Work Environment


 This was our studio.
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These are screen captured animations of the motion capture data creating traces. Our friends Jim and Jodi were the subjects. We wrote a set of visualization software tools in Pd/GEM so we could analyze the data for composition of the installation and for water jet cutting files.

 Elly, our studio dog, became quite the shop dog.

This drill press was a part of the studio and a source of fascination. 

Outside the studio - lots of machine shop stuff - lots of room to move around with fork lifts (and wheelchairs).
Right outside the studio was a loading dock between buildings ...
  
... where we laid out the piece...

...and Elly was groovin' in the grass.

Our piece shot from the loading dock area.

"Approach" FAQ

Who are the artists? Drew Browning and Annette Barbier – creative and life partners. Our art collaborative name: unreal-estates .................................................................. How was it made? The trailing line forms were generated from motion capture data recorded with a Motion Analysis system using infra-red cameras and retro-reflective markers on the subject. (It would be possible to use less expensive, less exact capture technology, but this is what we had access to).
Why use motion capture at all? The practice of data visualization has become commonplace in numerous fields including the arts, the idea being that it reveals new information and allows the subject to be understood in a new way. Data can be mapped to other visual representations or to other mediums such as sound. For this piece we wrote software tools to analyze the data in time and space allowing us to find the right traces for a particular interval. Fractals, for eg., can be instantly appreciated from an image, whereas understanding the theorems requires a highly sophisticated understanding of math. Lev Manovich, artist and researcher, is a well known and articulate proponent and practitioner of visualization for understanding large databases. ................................................................... What’s it about? Part of the idea for the piece is the relationship between human and environment, calling attention to human scale and presence in an industrial context. Is there an irony in using technology to do this? We think not, since technology is the medium in which we all live and breathe. It has become indispensable and enriches our lives in many ways. People with disability are a relevant example – assistive devices make it possible for many people to lead productive lives. And since technology is what we have used to compromise the environment, it makes sense to use it to try to restore balance. ................................................................... How did it start? We have always worked in a way that favors neither content nor medium but engages in a dialog between them. So, surprising as it may seem, what looks like a straightforward self-portrait really started as an investigation of a tool – the mo-cap system – and grew into the story of our lives. Although this is not meant to foreclose on other interpretations of the work – for example, we were also thinking about the ability of data to make visible information that is normally invisible and the traces as representing the effect of an individual’s presence in the world. .................................................................. What was the final medium? We used 4mm corrugated plastic, which was flexible enough to follow the vagaries of the fence but stood up to water jet cutting. The water jet gave us the ability to not just emulate but exactly follow the curves generated by the subjects’ motion. Installation took 1 ½ days, and we were assisted by Ron Ray, director of the Center, and Jim Zeske, fellow artist in residence. Ron’s idea, and we hope it comes to pass, is that when the work begins to deteriorate, as it undoubtedly will, the fence will be painted before removing the work, thus leaving yet another, more subtle trace of its presence in the environment. .................................................................... Many thanks. Creating this piece in a residency context gave us the required amount of time undistracted by other obligations, so intense work over a two week period would otherwise have required two months on an ordinary schedule, and we’re grateful to the Center for the opportunity.