HSS8123: Fun artwork I found

This is a poster designed by Vince Ray which I though was pretty cool! – shows a female Zoltar machine called Zoltarra, labelled as psycho and a ‘mis-fortune teller’– find it funny she is punching a guy in the face through the window!


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HSS8121: Research Proposal

As part of the assessment we also had to submit a document explaining what kinds of research we would propose to carry out for the given project proposal. As I had already started this in order to create a plausible proposal, choosing the types of research was not too difficult.

When looking over my notes from the different sessions we had I could also see how the different methods could be used at different stages of the development of a project and could help with different aspects so I chose to carry out research involving many of the methods spoken about in the module.

I knew I wanted to collect contextual data to help guide the social aspects of my project so I chose ethnographic research as well video analysis as I had the hope of shooting some video footage as part of my ethnographic research. I had also already undertaken research exploring different disciplines such as engineering in order to create a design for my project. With regards to the design I also knew that I would have to carry out different trials to find the best way to make the piece work how I wanted, which would require a lot of set up fails to find a successful outcome. As I was planning and making the initial research into this project I also kept in mind the setting of the museum and the audience it would be open to in order to create something appropriate which is a topic we explored in our last session with the guest speaker John O’Shea who has curated many pieces in his career.

This is all explored in more detail in my proposal and I show more of my findings from my initial research in my presentation for the following week.

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HSS8121: Creative Project Proposal

For our assessment we were given a brief to respond to, which was a commissioned piece for the National Media Museum’s LATES programme, co-inciding with the “In Your Face” exhibition. In the call for this they state four exhibition themes, so I chose ‘Reading Faces’ as the theme to base my proposed project on. The reason for this was because after our last session where we were given the brief I found myself really interested in the different ways a person can perceive faces (not just with our eyes) as many of the quick fire responses we came up with in class were all to do with visuals, photographs, illustrations etc. This got me thinking about the different sensory tools we use, and the way we reply on touch as a secondary enhancer to sight and that this is all that people are left with who are blind. So I wanted to create a project that gave the public the opportunity to try and read faces through touch.

The assessment is on the way we propose the project not the idea itself and so the simpler the project the easier it would be however I was so fixated on this concept I took a long time trying to make this a possibility (as the obvious use of making castes of peoples faces would not be suitable for this brief). Unfortunately this spiraled into what can be seen as a complicated project but I just went with it anyway!

My project idea is to have a station where an audience member can choose to participate and have a 3D scan taken of their face. Through a computer I will then, using specific points which are determined as the most important features of a face (obtained through my research), compare this to a representation of a “generic face”. For this I would use a blank face mask which is commonly sold in costume shops. Then using an Arduino microcontroller board and a series of linear servos I will move the feature points in the mask to the same depth as that of the audience. This is then used to make an impression in layers of material to show a resemblance to the audience’s face which they are able to go up to and touch. One of my main inspirations for this design is the toys you can get where you press your hand/face/body into a mass of pins and see the impressions left on the other side.
If you are not sure what I mean here is a photo of one:
pin toy

To help visual it I made a diagram to show how the physical object itself would work:

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HSS8121: ‘Fail’ method by Alexia Mellor

In one of our sessions we had a guest speaker Alexia Mellor who spoke to use about the importance of failure and how you can use it as a tool within your creative practice.

I found this session really relate-able as there have been many times throughout my time at university where I have done what I perceived as a failure and let it stop/discourage any for of creative thinking or development. Alexia explored her own past perceived failures and told us what she learned from them and how as part of her practice now she actively seeks to create a failure in order to help spark ideas to reach what would be seen as a ‘success’. I hope to apply this way of thinking when I am developing my summer project as I struggle with making decisions and committing to a set final outcome, where if I could just apply myself to try out something no matter how silly it sounds, I then could kick start a new way of thinking to inspire my creative work and hopefully create a successful final project.(fingers crossed!)

In Alexia’s presentation she also showed us a collection of questions she asks herself when she is about to take part in a creative project. I thought this was a really good idea as a form of self reflection on the decisions we make in our own personal creative practice development. Here are a few she had which I feel I could apply myself.

  • To regularly question art’s role
  • To create meaningful links between people and between disciplines
  • To remain curious
  • To allow myself the freedom to fail
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    HSS8121: Video analysis

    Another one of Johns sessions for the research and methodologies module was on video analysis. This I have had some experience with beforehand however not with the awareness of it being a specific method. Like ethnographic research which we had previously had a session on, video analysis can also be used to look at naturally occurring settings, giving it gives you a chance to look at how activities are socially organised through speech, body movement, gesture and engagement with objects. This form of research is like a branch off from ethnographic research part of which you can take video footage as a way to collect data.

    In the class we looked at performers and the environment in which they set themselves up for a performance (something I have never thought about before!). We looked at a video from one of Sean’s performances from a gig he had performed previously and analysed his posture and movements and looking at what they meant as they changed throughout the performance.

    I found this lecture really interesting as we applied the method analyzing video documentation of live performances which had never crossed my mind before. As I have an interest in live performances, especial involving music, this is a perfect tool to use (which I will be) especially when reflecting on later assessments in this course,i.e. for my LEP performance as well as my final summer project. So in order to shoot a video specifically to analyse the set up is very different to if you were shooting specifically for documentation. As for documentation there would be an exploration of different angles (maybe), use of close ups etc for future editing, the best set up for an analysis is to keep the frame static and wide so you can clearly see the entire space and the person/people within it. This will be something I need to keep in mind for my upcoming performances.

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    HSS8121: Ethnography

    For our research and methodologies module John led the lecture on Ethographic research which features research of naturally occurring settings, social meaning, looking at the perspective of the participant. It also looks at reflexivity where you can reflect on your own data collected and question what you have drawn from the research and why.

    Ethnographic research is a great method to use as it collects a lot of data through multiple data sources. Such as:

  • field interviews
  • Observation ( as John put it “hanging around and doing something with it”
  • note-taking
  • video and audio recordings
  • documents and artefacts
  • interpretive analysis
  • AS part of the class we also undertook an activity in groups to go to Northumberland street to observe/ take notes to come up with a creative idea to propose as a public artwork in Northumberland street. In my group I was with Sean and Almu and together we cam up with a collection of possible artworks (which may or may not have been realistic!) Thought I would share the beauty that is my handwriting from the notes we took on Northumberland street.

    So as you may or may not be able to tell from my notes we came up with a handful of ideas such as lighting up pathways on the floor of Northumberland street to map the direction of people travelling (as the street seemed more like a sort of motorway). There was also an idea for sound controlled lights on the side of the buildings – as Northumberland street is known for always have multiple buskers at a time. There was also ideas to cover up building work going on with messages people could electronically send to be displayed on a screen and create a kind of social network for Northumberland street.

    This activity was really fun to do and really helped me see how useful the observational technique was and how much information you can get by simply watching people and how they move/interact in a space.-Definitely one I will be using in the future!

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    HackDay Project: DMS8012

    A couple of weeks ago we had an all day hack where we were put into groups to create something of our own choice using data. In my group I was with Xiyuan Tan and Ilya Tarnopolskiy and we decided to look at trains using video footage (taken by Xiyuan Tan) as our data.

    We started by using background subtraction in Processing to identify when objects in the video move (i.e the train). This was only possible as the video footage was taken on a tripod and so the image was still with just the train moving in and out of shot.

    We used the background subtraction example from the video library. This example used a live video feed from a webcam, for this project we then had to replace this with the saved video file of the trains instead and using a print screen of the first frame of the video to initialise the background in Processing.

    After the hack day I took the sketch further by using an arduino and a potentiometer to control the speed of the video. This is achieved by reading the value of the potentiometer and communicating this to Processing via serial. The range of values is then mapped to a minimum video speed of minus 2 and maximum of 2. This enables the video to be played backwards as well as forwards.

    Code is available here: GitHub

    Video documentation


  • Video does not loop backwards. This is a bug with the video functionality in Processing (see this bug report)
  • PD sketch still under construction for processing of audio
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