HSS8121: Two ideas for In Your Face exhibition
May 16th, 2016 by Red Lion

Tom says we don’t have to come up with really brilliant ideas for the exhibition since this is not what he is going to assess (Tom: Why are you emphasising this in your post?!), but I still want to show my favourite two ideas that I came up for the exhibition here.

Almost everyone on earth knows that I am terribly obsessed with cartoon character design, so of course my two ideas here are all related to cartoon character design as well, and in order to relate to the exhibition’s topic, I chose to explore cartoon face drawing styles. Anyone with experience of watching cartoon animations or reading cartoon comics from different countries will notice that the styles of drawing from various cultures can be totally different, and my plan here is to show these differences to the audiences of the show, whether they watch cartoons or not, by displaying the different face drawing styles.

The first idea is a still display installation. I got this idea after I saw this picture on the web:

anime face in different ages


It’s interesting when you put together a set of different drawing styles for a same object. This picture above shows the evolution of typical anime face drawing styles. Seeing this, I started thinking whether we could also put culture together with timeline. In order to realise this, we might need a large table like this:

faceproj1The thing is we need to try to summarise the common factors of a drawing style from a certain time and culture and produce drawings of one object using the style we have summarised. The problem is that even if it’s one certain time and culture, different cartoonists still tend to draw in different styles, so it might be hard to conclude into one single style. But I still believe this is possible. Perhaps we need to choose those that are more typical. And also cartoonists affect each other, so there should be plenty of family resemblances.

The second idea is generated from the first idea, but consists of interactive factors. In this idea, the drawing styles are not simply displayed. They are for you to choose and combine and make your own face. To be clear, I’ll show a picture here:




The drawings of the face elements will be extracted from cartoon characters from comics and animations from different cultures, and the player can remix the different styles together to see what they get. One thing interesting about this one is that I won’t tell the player which style is generated from which culture and it’s all up to the player to create. It would be pretty fun to see whether people actually put together styles from the same cultural background without knowing it.

Media Documentation for DMS8013 Assignment
May 13th, 2016 by Red Lion

Nice to invite friends to play my games again 😉

Insane trains
May 11th, 2016 by Red Lion

On the hack day I first worked with Meena trying to fetch some train data from the web and apply them to some graphic effects. We did find an API source for train timetables at Newcastle Central Station, and while we were thinking about how to use these data, Ilya showed up and joined us. He said rather than fetching data from the web, why not just fetch data from the videos which I shot at Central Station a few weeks ago. And that lead to a play with background subtraction and interesting results.

Before Ilya joined in, I was playing around with video transparency. I shot several trains from the same spot, with a tripod, so I was thinking whether I could change the transparency of the videos so they would look like ghost trains crashing into each other. We asked John for a bit of help on video addition, and we learned about blend() and tint(). Here’s the screenshot of ghost trains.

2016-5-11 14-35-09

While working on ghost trains I have discovered a quite interesting that Processing can create if we draw a half-transparent image on every loop and do not redraw the background. In fact I used to use this to create an afterimage effect for moving objects, but I didn’t realise this effect can be put on videos and create a fake motion blur. Below is a screenshot. Looks like the train is travelling pretty fast huh? Actually it’s on about 10km/h.

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Then Ilya joined in and wanted to play with pixel data. So we started looking at a background subtraction example in Processing and wanted to apply that to our train videos. We had a pretty hard time doing that, and Tom spent ages fixing our problem (thanks a lot!). At least it’s finally done, turning my children, I mean my trains, into a rather…punky style? It was a pretty surprising result though, and I might use this visual effect and combine it with crazy train sounds for my DMS8012 assignment. The screeshot:

2016-5-11 14-32-27

 And here is the video consisting all of the above.

PS Although we did not use train timetable data in the end, those data are really useful to railway enthusiasts like me *lol* at least now I know the abbreviations for train operators. GR, NT, XC, TP *lol*

PPS John was really obessed with playing with the train sounds at the end of the hack session. I would say Chinese train sounds are way better than UK train sounds. They are more rhythmic and they are pounding like heartbeats. I guess it’s because Chinese trains are longer and heavier. If you are interested in hearing the sound check this video I shot: Put on headphones for best experience. @John Bowers

HSS8121: Something I wanted to say a long time ago
May 5th, 2016 by Red Lion

Perhaps it’s an educational convention of Chinese students that we do not like to state all of our opinions in class, especially critical thoughts. I have something to say about what I have learned in HSS8121 Enterprise and Research Methods a long time ago, before I went home for Easter break, but have not found an appropriate time to do so. I guess now I can say stuff since the module is finished. (What? That doesn’t make sense *eyeroll*)

Although both of my parents are academics, they do science not arts or humanities. It’s been ages that I have been thinking that doing research is all about doing experiments and getting data and making analysis. When I chose to study arts in undergraduate (I used to be a science student in high school, playing around with physics, chemistry and biology), my mum said, “Right, now we can’t help you anymore because we only know science. You’ll need to find out how to be an academic in arts by yourself, and how to do art and design research.”

Chinese people tend to discriminate against arts and humanities because they think science is much more useful. I can understand this because we are living in a developing country. And I’ll have to admit that art and design research in China is relatively poor (which was why I chose to do my Masters somewhere else). The school in which I did my undergraduate does not have any PhD programmes related to art and design. They only have programmes for architecture and landscape and urban planning. I have looked up some information about art PhD programmes in China and most of them are related to art history, traditional Chinese arts and crafts or whatsoever. Very theoretical stuff.

I was kind of surprised about what UK art PhD students are doing here. They are making stuff, and are encouraged to make stuff. And they call it Practice-Based Research or Research Through Design. Analysing your own design can be research. We can even learn from the process of creating a failure. And the PhD students here are exhibiting their works everywhere.

Why, isn’t this just like science experiments? The different thing is just that science is analysing nature, art is analysing people and ourselves. While Chinese art PhD students are burying themselves in thousands of books, UK PhD students are making things that never existed. Of course I don’t mean that reading is not important (I like reading), but academics in my home country should really change their stereotypes on art students and be aware that art is not just reading literature and analysing works of people from the past, but making and analysing what you made by yourself.

There’s also something I’m quite angry about…some artists here are doing a PhD to, guess what, pay for their bills! Because they get scholarship to do research and they can spare money to pay the bills!! This is just so ridiculous to me!! If I want to do a PhD I have to pay tonnes of tuition fee, even if it’s in my home country! :(:(:(

And finally I want to say that I love ethnographic study. It’s totally fun observing people doing things, totally fun to find what people from different age groups, gender groups or cultural backgrounds would react differently to the same situation. Results are always surprising! PS. One reason why I like to watch prankster videos is that, I  don’t think it’s the prank, but the funny and unexpected reactions of the person being pranked that makes me laugh so hard *LOL* Does that count as ethnographic study anyway *LOLLOL*

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