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Viktor & Rolf Spring/Summer 2010 - Scenography by Studio Job

"Scenography relates to the study and practice of design for performance" John A Walker’s 1992 glossary previously published by Library Association Publishing, London. In contemporary performance making Scenography plays a crucial role. How something visually appears communicates the ideas and the meaning of a performance/installation in an instant. As soon as the audience views it they being reading/interpreting/judging the artwork instantly. Scenography is such a broad term, it can range from lighting and set to such things as video, costume, props, sound or a combination of any. The complexity of scenography is endless, it relies on collaborations of aesthetics and supports/ is supported by all other artworks involved. For instance you may have a unique and interesting set design/lighting for a piece of theatre, but if the piece of theatre is dull/performed wrong, you scenography may not be fully appreciated as intended. What interests me in terms of Scenography and contemporary performance making is the ability for an artwork to strip back reality and take the audience/ participant to a different place and time. The whole idea of escaping real life pushes for a more extreme or even a lack of effort in designing scenography.

Performance art is an incredibly huge umbrella term for all types of art/ installations. Practical ideas that have informed my work on this project come from the fact that we live in a real world, everything performed is real, most of what we talk about is real. I want to detach from what is real and provide an alternative reality to escape to.

Angelin Preljocaj's Creation 2010 Scenography by Subodh Gupta Researching reality and escaping reality lead me to Augmentation. Augmented reality is a combination of a virtual world and real life. Technology allows us to enhance our current perception of reality. Augmentation usually occurs in real time and uses computer generated sensory input such as video, sound, graphics or GPS to mediate reality.

Domestic Robocop by Keiichi Matsuda

As part of my research i visited the Tate Modern on the 15th February to find inspiration for this project. Following are a series of artworks from around the gallery which interested me which were all surrounded by the ideas of escape.

Jenny Holzer Blue Purple Tint 2007

Venus of The Rags Michelangelo Pistoletto 1974

Staircase - III Do Ho Suh 2010 From going to the Tate Modern and experiencing all the different artworks/ installations/paintings i got a much better sense of what i wanted to develop for my project and that was to explore fantasy through Digital Art.

Before the start of this module i had viewed several videos on youtube of 3D Projection Mapping. It had interested my greatly and inspired me to create a piece of digital 3d projection art. I studied many 3D Projection specialists including Davey and Kristen Mcguire, Mr.Beam, Resolume and Mickey Did it. Davey and Kristen Mcguire caught my attention with their piece 'The Ice Book'. "The Icebook is a miniature theatre show made of paper and light. An exquisite experience of fragile paper cutouts and video projections that sweep you right into the heart of a fantasy world. It is an intimate and imersive experience of animation, book art and performance."

I researched Mr.Beam after seeing their collaboration with H&M Amsterdam for their opening event, specialising in projection mapping on a large scale and continuously trying to push the art to it's limit. See their 'Living room' piece below.

Resolume is actually a VJ (Video Jockey) program created to improve Vj-ing as it used to be done using VHS tapes. The company itself has a blog where they post their work/collaborations. They have two programs Resolume Arena and Resolume Avenue. You can see the programs capability in their collaboration with Geneva Dance company Diade in their show 'Metro.

Mickey Did it are an animation studio that actually collaborated with Mr.Beam to create the graphics and animation for the H&M Amsterdam opening. In my process to learning projection mapping, the animation is of key importance. Once the technical process has taken place and the projectors have been set up/mapped to the objects that you're projecting on. It's then all up to the animation.

Being greatly inspired by Davey and Kristen Mcguire i set out to emulate their work. In a similar approach to 'The Ice book' i wanted to project onto a 3D object. I designed a small creature that i named Cyber-cat and purchased sheets of foamboard and a craft knife to cut out the shape of the creature. The Creation of Cyber-Cat

After Cyber- Cat was created i had to learn how to map to an object, little did i know how difficult it would be to get my head around the whole concept. I downloaded many programs to trial and test to see which one i felt most comfortable with. Going head first into the real of projection mapping having no previous knowledge of the art-form, i had to learn all the terminology and read many tutorials of the programs i was attempting to use. From reading up on the companies/artists i was studying i had a short-list of programs i wished to utilize. Isadora Blender Resolume Avenue Resolume Arena Modul8

Isadora The first program that i downloaded was Isadora, it is a graphic programming environment specialising in manipulating real time digital video. Unfortunately i encountered problems with the software, each time i downloaded the trial and opened the program my computer decided to reset itself. This happened multiple times and showed the Isadora file to be corrupt. Blender

Blender is highly optimized for 3D Graphic production, it's highly confusing to a new user. Even following the tutorials provided with the software i got lost within it's many functions. I thought Blender was able to projection map in the way that i wanted it to but infact it's just for creating 3D Graphics which was slightly useful yet not what i needed. I needed a program that could do everything, map to my 3D Image, create visual effects/animations and be easily controlled. My efforts so far did not bring much to the table. Taking an even closer look at the artists i studied i took a closer look at Resolume. They offered two different programs, Arena and Avenue. Avenue seemed to be the program for a new user so i downloaded that and began to mess around with all of its features.

Resolume Avenue

Resolume Avenue is friendly, easy to use, comes with great visuals and loads of effects all ready to play with. For a demo it's the perfect program for a newbie VJ. The tutorial included explains clearly how to get up and running and be able to play with what you have on your screen. Purposely designed for VJ-ing you can alter tempo, opacity, position,size and shape to whatever you like. Everything can be altered in any way you desire and it's so simple to do. You can upload your own video files/music to the program with ease to play around with. After learning how to use Resolume Avenue i then found out that Arena is the program that specialises in instant Video mapping. Resolume Arena

Luckily, Arena is exactly the same as Avenue just with added features! I learned how to use the 'Advanced' mapping function which let you distort,slice,change position/perception what is being projected in realtime. Modul8

Although i felt like i'd found the program i wished to work with, i downloaded the last program on my list - Modul8. Similar to Resolume Modul8 was also designed for VJ-ing. Deciding that the two programs were incredibly alike and me already knowing my way around Resolume, i deemed learned how to use Modul8 as a waste of time. So i had my Cyber-Cat and my Video Mapping program. Unfortunately Cyber-Cat was more of a hassle than it needed to be. As i learnt more and more about projection mapping it seemed to make more sense to use a more basic/simple 3D Shape to project onto. The detailed design of Cyber-Cat may have been aesthetically pleasing but it would be difficult to map onto. I decided to showcase my learnings from this module i would do a 20-minute presentation. A completely blacked out room works best for projections so i booked out the Black studio at the University of Chichester. To show off my projection mapping skills i decided to create a 3D Crystal to project onto for the installation. Practising my VJ skills to many different songs and remixes i decided on a Lady Gaga Megamix that lasted for 20 minutes, with at least 9 different songs in it, a range of tempos and styles were all contained in one continuous piece of music, perfect to display all that i had learnt.

Final Presentation

To prepare for the presentation i cut-out my simple crystal shape and assembled it. I purchased a mini DVI to VGA adaptor for my macbook so i could connect it to a projector. I borrowed a projector from the technicians at my university and made sure i had my animations/music all ready to go for the day. VJ-ing is a live performance and so i had to rehearse quite alot. I wanted to know how i was going to perform on the day, so i knew what worked and what didnt in terms of animation/effects with the music. To successfully map to an object i set up my equipment and 3D object. Then using the program 'GIMP' (similar to photoshop). I used the projector to outline my 3D Object in realtime. I then saved that outline as a .png and placed the image into Resolume and using the Alpha channel the .png outline then became a 'Mask'. The 'Mask' disguises everything except what you outlined, being my 3D Crystal. Leaving only my 3D object being projected onto. There was a total of 4 showings of my presentation throughout the day, audience members gave good reviews of the piece, i felt satisfied with how i exhibited my work.

However one thing i wish i had done is document the performance better, with a high quality video of the entire sequence. I was so involved with the presentation and how it was going to go i completely forgot to record it. Thankfully Audience members did, so here is a snippet of the performance.

In Conclusion, i believe i succeeded in my attempts to perform 3D Video Mapping. I've learnt and understood from this project that scenography is not just something that helps theatre/performance but it can be an art in itself. Installations/Scenography can aid another artwork such as a theatrical performance but it can also stand by itself and be presented alone. It all depends on your personal perception of it. If my presentation was to be categorized it would be labelled as 'installation art'. However i was performing it live so i don't think it can really be 'installed' as such as i was vital for the piece to be executed properly. My project highlighted the Augmentation of reality through digital animation and projection. I set out to alter reality through 3D projection and i believe i achieved that.


Visual and Technical Portfolio.

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