Work in Progress

Most of my recent work evolves from interactions that I have at home with my wife Melinda and our two daughters, Lucy and Tallula, or from conversations with colleagues and students from school.  These days it can often take time for ideas, snippets and experiments to germinate and evolve into completed artwork or often the artwork itself becomes an ongoing open-ended 'project'.    

 French Invasion: Real-time Projection Mapping

Currently teaching myself projection mapping using two free options, both developed in France. VPT7 is a comprehensive open source solution, and HeavyM is VJing software currently in beta testing.  Images above are from some quick tests of HeavyM, projecting a video loop simultaneously onto a 3D fabric cone and 2 screen frames I had lying around.  HeavyM is much more limited in its capabilities, but easy to implement and change in real time. It took me less than ten minutes to get the three frames mapped with pretty good accuracy, however it doesn't allow for multiple projectors, multiple video loops to play simultaneously, smooth curve masking or warped mesh projections. I'm looking for alternatives to Madmapper (also French!), quickly becoming a standard especially among VJs because it falls somewhere between these two in terms of capability and ease of use.  Madmapper is prohibitively expensive at around 300 Euros+VAT for a two computer license.

Slap and Tickle Booth 

A design that started as a portable viewing booth for Slap and Tickle to make it a monitor-based piece rather than a projection piece. This maintains an ideal viewing distance that fills your visual field while replicating interpersonal distance from the screen.  It also has the additional benefits of permitting me to show the video in a format that  takes advantage of its high resolution, adds a level of intimacy, and makes the video something you have to investigate and engage with rather than watch from a distance.  I'm now thinking of reworking this as a new piece, more as a surveillance booth with the addition of a camera and networking it with other booths in a space so that you watch and are watched, a mix of live video feed and single channel or picture in a picture.

Tiny and the Twins

I recently purchased the Twins and Tiny the Elephant to use in the Hobson's Choice ongoing project, but they had different ideas.  As an artist one is always aware that you are collaborating with your media, but when your media has a strong anthropomorphic personality you become acutely aware of the team effort.  In the images above you see  Tiny and I collaborating on a project with the Institute of Noetic Science.  We are experimental test subjects in their Double Slit Experiment exploring the possible role of consciousness in the physical world.  This research focuses on a classic physics experiment that demonstrated an effect known as the quantum measurement problem (QMP).  Tiny and I are currently running trials where we try to use our consciousness to measurably influence matter at the quantum level.  As a former physics major, I'm really excited about the process, but Tiny is almost over-enthusiastic.   I think it's because she feels like she has something to prove.  More about this later when results start coming in... 

Blind Men and the Elephant

The plan is for this to be a two channel video installation where the projections are on a full-size, "gossamer apparition" of an african elephant.  Quarter inch steel rod stock is bent to form ribs at 12" intervals.  These are suspended from the ceiling and one ring from the next using 1/8" aviation cable.  Hundreds of 3" wide X 14" long strips of translucent visqueen will entirely cover the steel ribs and dangle loosely from each layer. The effect I am looking for is one part fringe flapper dress, on part chinese lantern.  I want it to simultaneously appear massive and ephemeral. Rib design is almost done, and I've done a good bit of research on the videos, so now its time to buy my welder and get started.  More updates as it progresses...  

 Rock 'em SketchUp Render Test

I have been teaching myself Google SketchUp. This was an exercise in building from scratch.  I picked the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot because it was neither to complex nor too simple, plus I have a couple of ideas for video installations involving these guys wired up with solenoids sparring with shadows and video images, so it will be nice to do some digital mock ups before I get too deep into burning video and building stuff.  Here is the finished SU build rendered out using a free visualization plug-in for SketchUp that I discovered called Maxwell.  The two SU images for AKA were done with the standard, crude SU render and then heavily worked in Photoshop.  Looks like Maxwell can save me a LOT of post SU work for installation mock-ups.


In 2008 Tallula and I had spent an afternoon playing around with Play-Doh the various extrusion contraptions and plastic molds. But when the novelty of the clever merchandising had worn off, what she did was cast her little fist by closing her hand tightly around a ball of the stuff.  She was instantly captivated by this most direct and tactile of sculptural acts and so was I.   We spent another half- hour making cast after cast of our closed fists and  I spent the next month or so puzzling it out in sketches and photographs, and visual research.


So over the next year we made casts. I photographed the casts… 


I did more photos based on those photographs;  The palm enfolded in a Palm enfolded in a palm. I did a little origami to arrive at Land Grab...

I made a couple of large drawings and some small collaborative drawings with Lucy and Tallula. 

Those casts seemed to me a topology of a magical space. It still does. I spent over a year making work puzzling over the simple act of enfolding.  I have yet to able to pull the various experiments completely together into something that I feel gets at  the oddness that I intuit. But in a nutshell, here is my issue: When you close your fist closing off a space, topologically speaking, the space that you enclose inside your fist is INSIDE your body, however any object (like a penny), that occupies that inside space, is OUTSIDE of your body.  You can test this using the "border" rule.  if you want to know if something is inside or outside of a border you only need to count the number of times that you cross the border moving in a straight line.  If you cross an odd number of times you are outside.  If you cross an even number of times you are outside.

So here we are in the first image, unambiguously outside of the body.  We position ourselves just above the fingernail and close the fist... 

Here we are sitting right on top of the body border just outside of the fingernail (the cuticle is in the lower left corner) looking through the finger into the space enclosed by a fist.  We are still outside the body. 

Here we are sitting right on the inside edge of the finger looking down toward the palm.  We are located right on the border of the space established by a closed fist.  The edge of the space is white (and grey). To get from this space to the unambiguous outside we have to cross the blue border 1 time.  THE SPACE IS INSIDE THE BODY.   If we put something into the white space on the right, we must cross over the white border and the blue border to get to the unambiguous outside.  OBJECTS PLACED INTO THIS INSIDE SPACE ARE OUTSIDE OF THE BODY. 

We just pushed through the fingernail and now we are unambiguously inside the body.  Straight ahead we are looking through the inside border of the finger into the space enclosed in the fist.  To the left we are looking down the inside of the finger.  Blood, guts and bone removed for clarity! 

 Here we are unambiguously inside the body looking out toward the interior of the fingers.  The outside edge of the "fist space" is to the left. The back of the hand and the unambiguous outside is to the right.   The issue is, of course, the border on the left that is between the "closed fist" space and the inside of the hand.  Is it the inside edge of the hand?  Yes.  Is it the outside edge of the space?  Yes.  So it is the ambiguity of how we define the edge that seems to cause the alchemic magic to happen. 

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