Fringe Festival Wrap-up

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I really enjoyed being part of the fringe and even though my installation was a labour of love to go and start and close each day, it did have it’s benefits…

At the end of the show day when I would close down, I could shut of all of the lights and sounds from other artworks and really immerse myself in the sound that I had created, it was peaceful, refreshing and a pleasure to have the wonderful acoustics working for my piece and indulge my senses with my installation in the secret place under the War Memorial in Norwich, all to myself.

I took a short video clip from one of the last days as I wanted to preserve the space’s wonderful impact on my piece.

and a lovely roundup from Rosie Cooper of all the artworks on show.

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How not to place a pressure mat! fringe foul-up

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The undercroft is a great place to put my interactive sculpture, but I knew I needed to replace my pressure mat as it had seemed quite worn out and unresponsive after my MA show, so I duly ordered a new one and feeling pleased I’d been organised put it in place and was gratified to see it work much more smoothly.

But on Monday night when I was rewiring my sound – it had only been playing in mono, but it hadn’t affected it too much in the echoey space – I noticed the new mat was not functioning properly, in fact I pretty much needed to jump on it to make it trigger the animation

As I wondered what on earth had happened I noticed a small tear in the cover and placing my hand over it discovered a sharp protrusion underneath, I looked under the cover in case a stone had got in, no, then I lifted the pressure mat to find this!wpid-dsc_0075.jpgBlimey…

no wonder the mat was being unresponsive this bit of piling that they would have used to reinforce the concrete had stabbed all the way through the mat and out of the cover as well…sheesh… so much for being organised and ordering a lovely new pressure sensor for the Norwich Fringe!

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look what it did!

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and out the other side…

What a proverbial pain in the rear end…

It’s so disappointing, but this is why I want to look at more gesture based control, I know that can still go wrong, but the physical mat doesn’t take to being used like this very well.

I ordered yet another mat from maplin which arrived this morning, so was able to install it for todays exhibition, it’s so pleasing when it works.

When I met up with Andy Logie the other day, we talked about the possibility of that type of control using a kinect, Andy seemed to think this was a possibility, but we both agreed that the technical coding side of these things just drove us potty!

Bustard flies again @norwichfringe

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Great Bustards will fly again in Norwich, well my interactive sculpture and feather animation version of a reintroduction of the species back to it’s native Norfolk will.

I’ve been accepted as an exhibiting artist in the Norfolk and Norwich Fringe Festival line-up this year, alongside my fellow recent NUA graduate Andrew Logie we will be part of the undercroft programme.

On every day from 11-25th October http://www.norwichfringefestival.co.uk/

Launch on the Saturday, come and see us!

I’ve been testing everything still works and it’s looking good, I just hope my supplies of extra long wire make it in time…

Weeting visit for sound

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A visit to Weeting Heath was one of the last places I wanted to record sound from. As one of the remaining parts of the Brecks Heath this would have been the home of the Great Bustard .

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The chaps at the visitor centre although quizzical about what I was doing were quite happy to recommend the East Hide as no-one would visit there to see the infamous Stone Curlews as the grass is too long, so I had the hide to myself and could set up myu two sound recorders at either end, to really give a spatial sound result.

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I was using 2 H4 Zoom recorders at approximately 12 feet apart.

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Looking out over the Brecks Heath habitat..

Unfortunately it is next to a fast road, RAF Lakenheath and a steam rally but there are moments of pure tranquillity and I hope the reproduction will do it justice.

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A short walk away was a lovely forest trail with the hope of being further away from the road and rally, so I trekked up there and managed to record a couple of shorter sessions, using the same 12 feet apart set up, as I will be overlaying the different habitats from Weeting, Salisbury Plain and Santon Downham in the final mix.

wpid-dsc_0024.jpgI have already selected the best raw audio footage and am hoping to get in the sound studio next week for the final selection.

Great Bustard sculpture, looking good

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Update on the ongoing sculpture, just the sanding to go and it’s making a real difference.

 

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Before and after of the sides.

Sanding takes the lumps out beautifully.

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Looking at the model on his legs and I am still thinking about whether to snip the long ‘h’ support bar down, or to dig into the sculpture underneath so that the support bar doesn’t show at all..

When viewed from my height it’s fine, but if you look underneath or are just a bit shorter you can see the metal prongs…

It’s balanced very well, is still light enough and looks great, I can’t wait to put it in situ and test some projection onto it.

Smooth operator #greatbustard #plaster #sculpture

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Getting back In the workshop after a week meant that my sculpture has had long enough to really harden and gives me a chance to examine what my next step to finishing it might be.

Looking over the model, the modroc has done a fair job, but, there are still fibres and ridges present.

I have some options,

1, just to modroc again, this could of course leave me with exactly the same finish as I currently have, fibres and ridges due to the nature of the application…

2, modroc another layer and whilst still damp apply a thin skim of fine casting plaster, this could be quite messy and complex and the speed with which modroc goes off may not give me enough time to make a batch of fine plaster and apply it to good finish, plus if there are any fibres and it’s wet, they may well come up through the skim and give me problems when trying to sand as they will pull out to the modroc leaving a small hole in the model….

3, just use the fine casting plaster to do a skim over what I have, this may be the best option as long as it is able to adhere to the hardened modroc layer underneath.

I think the best result will be had from going with option 3, and fully wetting the area to which I will then skim on.

Jim shows me a test piece that he has experimented with, in order to look at the adhesion of fine plaster directly onto a polystyrene former, without using scrim underneath (which was my alternative method). It has worked quite well, but he shows me what happens when the polystyrene flexes and parts of the plaster pop off and cracks. So moving my sculpture is going to be the trickiest part, this is where any stress on the plaster will pull at the tension and cause cracks or fissures to appear.

So I dive in and get the right wing fully wet with warm water and quickly mix up some fine plaster, just to a fairly thin consistency and start to apply…

As I put it on I am shocked by how quickly it starts to dry, it really doesn’t give me as much time as I’d like, I’m guessing it must be the thinness of the plaster which is making it harden off before it normally would. But I grab a bowl of water to try and smooth as much as I can before it starts to harm the finish. I have a couple of places where it pulls up the skim I’ve just put on, let’s hope it holds on enough to get through the show.

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Although this technique is getting the finish closer to what I had envisaged I’m glad that I didn’t start with scrim and plaster, I think I would have put on too much plaster and the scrim would still have left the fibre problem, which I had on the base…

I turn the sculpture onto its side so I can more easily cover the whole right wing and almost decide to leave that to dry before doing anymore, but, this would take a ridiculous amount of wasted time in between sessions, so I turn the Bustard onto it’s stomach and start to cover the other side.

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I get the left side and tail done before lunch and leave the back and head until the afternoon.

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Because of the medium I am working so quickly I get the back, head and neck done in just two hours. The head shows a big improvement in quality of surface, from lumpy to smooth and I’m now looking forward to sanding this all over.

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This should be the final surface, bar painting, and I will experiment with paint on some spare plaster pieces to see if a satin, gloss or natural sanded plaster will be the best hold for projecting onto.

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Trying to make best use of the time left in the workshop I still need to sort out the gap that appears when the body is placed onto the base, so using up some of the modroc I increase the height on the ‘shorts’ of the bird.

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When the model is dry I need to remark the metal bars on the body so it sits nicely, and check whether it can still manage the weight of the sculpture with all of the added plaster!

I am surprised by how little plaster I have had to add to smooth over the whole surface, each time I mixed up a new batch I always had to throw some away, even though I was only making up a small amount… Of course I ran out on the head, but think I just got away with that…

Next session will be sanding and hopefully testing projection thereafter.

Flying Bustard lines

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The sculpture is coming along, but I need to get back to my animation, and to make it work I try and estimate how many frames I will need to make it work.

I take the illustrated bustard drawings I made before.

illustrated bustardThis consists of 6 frames, which almost works, but I decide to add in 2 more frames and then test that key frame for timing.
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2 more frames added and I have a little play with colour… with a view in mind that this will be my submitted image that the College can use for it’s publicity posters…

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Then I go back to the black outlines and put them through flash to see how the total timing is working for the flight cycle.

This looks good, about the right pause and pace, the Bustard does not fly with fast beating wings, it tries to conserve as much energy as possible, so this feels right, languid, but powerful.

I will need to add more frames in between these 8 for the drawn animation, which I may well do in a linear fashion first, but it will literally be a frame directly in the middle of these.

 

All together now

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Another short session in the plaster room gives me just enough time to beef up the Bustards legs… They’ve been looking a bit skinny at the top, so I have decided that by using some shaped polystyrene I can fatten them to give a better shape with a hint of muscle, as you generally see at the top of a birds leg…

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This now resembles what I have come to call the ‘shorts’ as on the live bird these are white, just like the underside of the Bustard itself.

With the two parts sat on the bench in front of me, I couldn’t resist putting them together to see how the legs worked and whether the plaster underside had affected how the sculpture fitted in one piece.

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It’s really tricky to put together on the floor as I can’t see the marking for the holes, but it sits quite steadily and there’s no weight imbalance (at the moment) the legs and the body work well as a single piece.

It does look impressive, but the plaster underbelly is preventing the metal struts from sitting ‘into’ the sculpture as it did when it was just polystyrene, so there is a gap between the legs and the body which will have to fixed.

I need to remark the strut holes whilst the model is on a raised dais to ensure a good fit for the two sections.

Smoothing dilemma – a real ‘head’ache

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Being able to leave the sculpture over a couple of days to really dry off is helpful, but the problems I face getting a reasonably smooth surface are quite apparent now it’s dried.

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wpid-dsc_0247.jpgThe head and neck area are the worst affected, and the photos of the face above are after I have spent a whole morning using sandpaper on the lumpiest bits, but this in turn brings out the fluff of the bandage, a real downside to the modroc sculpting method. If you don’t get it smooth on application, then sanding it reveals the material. Rather than if I had applied traditional plaster I would have been able to sand it as much as I liked (well down to the polystyrene former). But of course that would have made the model an awful lot heavier and the thicker skin would have impacted on my original carving.

My next step will be to apply another layer of modroc, but at the same time a skim of plaster, trying to work a smooth surface as I go, understanding a little more of how the modroc works. I will need to apply the regular plaster skim at the same time, so that it adheres to the still damp modroc surface.

I need to make sure I don’t apply too much plaster as this will totally cancel out the benefits and reasons that I used the modroc in the first place…

 

Getting plastered all over #greatbustard

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After finishing the tail in plaster it was time to get on with the largest area, and what I hoped would be the easier section, the large flat sides of the Bustard.

Using slightly larger pieces of the modroc bandage I make my way across one of the sides, working quickly to try and get the smoothest result…

I turn the Bustard sculpture gently onto it’s side so that I can see both the bottom and the top, to try not to leave any nasty bits of unsmoothed bandage where I can’t quite reach. It is pretty tricky as the benches are high, and the Bustard is big, even on it’s side and after taking all morning to cover it I have left a couple of dodgy edges where you can clearly see the bandage.

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The ridges of the modroc itself are also still showing through and the occasional tiny ball of polystyrene is still managing to wreck any chances I have of a smooth finish. (images are hard to take in the plaster room because of the fluorescent lighting, so apologies for the stripy photos!)

One extra morning used up…

The next morning I get, it’s onto the other side, I try and randomise the layering of the modroc as much as is possible, but I’m still not able to smooth it as much as I’d hoped and the little pieces of modroc string falling off coupled with polystyrene bits in the mix are driving me crazy!

wpid-dsc_0230.jpgBut I get the other side done and the underneath covered.

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Time is up, but my Bustard sculpture is fully plastered!

It’s looking really nice coated in plaster, but I will be unable to present it in this state, so I will need to continue longer than I had hoped, on trying to get a more polished finish.

 

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