A couple of weeks ago I was away with my wife, we were taking a break from the city, whilst staying near the Santa Elena’s woods, we ended up watching a Netflix show called Amazing Interiors (we saw the whole season). I discovered 4 different examples of interiors packed with imagery and colour and this made me think about caves and how we humans set up the places we live in, these people and their homes, made me think that perhaps, some humans enjoy (or need ) images more than others, these examples were quite extreme ones and I am making this post so I can revisit this idea in the future.
Last week I accidentally came across this artist as I was doing some research on psychogeography and was looking for Guy Debord, one of the founding members of SI or Situationist International. Whilst watching an old Youtube video, I found out that Giuseppe was also one of the founding members of this movement and accidentally saw a very interesting piece called the “Antimateria Cave”, a huge installation that uses lots of canvases to resemble a cave. So far, I haven’t found much information about this artist but I wanted to keep a reference to him for future research.
On January 2018, Artist Jennet Thomas hired me to help her create new 3D animated footage for her latest piece, the initial idea was to play with a 3D model of a pig she bought from an asset store.
So I started making a series of animations using multiple instances of the pig model.
After reviewing this material, Jennet suggested me to take a different approach as she provided me with some images of a specific location she wanted to use, so we agreed on creating several animations of different piggies walking on the branches of a fallen tree.
So I rigged the model and created 3D branches projected over a still image that would be later used as the background for the digital composing process.
Afterwards, I made multiple animations of different instances of the model with varying sizes and speeds.
Finally, I used After Effects to place individual animations on separate layers (Including the original background image) and rendered the entire project, this footage was later incorporated on to the final audiovisual piece.
This is a video of the final composited shot:
Three years ago somebody suggested me to do an MA, around that time I had many ideas about my practice but I did not have a clear idea to give to others when they asked about my theme or my subject, thanks to my MA, now I know that it is all about the depiction of my visual experience of reality.
Both Francis Bacon and David Hockney helped me in the process of understanding my practice; I was captivated by Bacon’s views on the horror of life, the way he approached the figure and his spatial arrangements. Hockney helped me to question linear perspective and monocular depictive systems, I was also impressed by his views on how time flows between images.
Now I know that through my practice, I have been trying to push the limits set by the flatness. Using images to create 3D models has allowed me to reflect about the substance of images, and has also helped me to gain enough confidence to start sculpting again.
I think that I have developed both my digital and physical professional skills, the creation of META-IMAGES is a quite interesting path that I want to follow, I have learned a lot from the making of my final piece and I plan to use that knowledge for the making of hybrid pieces that might inhabit the viewers space.
Doing my first VR piece allowed me to explore an unknown territory, digital images have been always part of my practice but were never present in the final piece, making the VR roller coaster encouraged me to keep doing digital explorations without the need of painting anything. Creating and editing digital images has also helped me to understand that my practice goes beyond paint and brushes (Although I quite like those two).
I plan to keep learning about VR user interface creation. I also plan to explore projection mapping as it might allow me to present my digital creations over not-flat surfaces as I think this could allow me to create an immersive space without the VR headset.
I am quite interested in the moving image and also the process moving through the image, I already started to do experiments with a MOVING-META-IMAGE using the same principles I use for still images.
Reading a book titled “The power of the centre” by Rudolf Arnheim, has helped me to learn more about spatial composition, I see META-IMAGES as both a 3D object and a place for the viewer to visit, my plan is to read more about architecture and spatial composition.
This experience has also made change my expectations about the art world, now I know I will need to keep exploring options in order to continue developing my practice whilst making money to pay the bills. I also understood the importance of networking and collaboration, in my near future I plan to work with a sound artist to explore how sound might spread through the META-IMAGE.
Finally, I will say that I used to ask myself about the What, Where, When and the How of my pieces, now, I am aware that thanks to my MA, I learned to ask Why.
The experience of setting up my final exhibition has been both fun and challenging, after spending more than 4 months focusing on my final piece now I have to split my mind in order to deal with all the details of the exhibition whilst working on the last details of my piece.
I feel pretty lucky because I was given a great space, however, this does not mean that everything is perfect, my biggest challenge so far has been setting up a proper lighting system for the two components of my piece, on this matter, I have to say that for the first time I feel that light has become a very important asset, I guess that in the past, things were simpler because the process of lighting walls tends to follow more or less the same formula, but setting up a piece in the middle of the space is quite a different matter.
Thanks to Jonathan I also learned that you have to balance elements to get them to work together and you have to be very careful because each new element like a light, a plinth, a shadow could become either part of the piece or worst; a distraction.
Thinking back about my previous exhibitions, I concluded that as a painter, my concerns were limited to very specific matters regarding walls and circulation, and this might be an inherent advantage for flat pieces that are supposed to be hanged on a wall, however, my role as a painter/sculptor working in both physical and digital environments brings new challenges and this will change forever the way I present my work not only in a physical space but also in the way I present it through my web page, social media and even for competitions and exhibition proposals.
Last week I was working on a presentation for SIREN Conference, at the same time I was making the video for the MA`s Symposium, it was a very difficult but interesting week, I even had to work on the train going to and back from Edinburgh.
Thanks to all the reflection I had to do about my practice, I ended up understanding how important images are in my life; I realised that since I was a kid, I used images to express my feelings and thoughts, and this is also the main reason for me to become a painter.
Although this might seem pretty obvious, it has helped me solve a puzzle that I had had for a long time, especially since I started expanding my practice by using digital photographs as part of a final piece.
As a painter, I keep questioning myself about digital images because using them as part of a final piece, feels like going in an opposite direction from painting, I do not consider myself a photographer as I do not want to depict the physical world through a lens, although I feel that, digital images provide unlimited raw material to work on.
Since last year, I realised that I am also a sculptor, but my interest in 3D shapes is directly linked to the image, and at one point, I realised that painting and sculpting are actually part of the process of making a META-IMAGE.
For most of my artistic practice, I have used photographic images as reference for my paintings, however, since last year, and thanks to my “Camberwell Roller Coaster” piece; a digital piece out of 12 photographs I made whilst walking through Camberwell College, my interest in them grew and now I feel that I have to keep exploring this path and take the risk of making more digital pieces.
Last Tuesday I went to Edinburgh in the company of Cèline and Jonathan, we were presenting a paper on the SIREN Conference, I have to say that this was an amazing experience that allowed me to look inside the PHD world, I was able to attend several talks by people from very different backgrounds.
This exercise allowed me to understand a very basic fact about myself; images have played a very important role in the way I express my ideas, although this might seem quite obvious, it has helped me to understand why I do what I do.
I AM AN IMAGE MAKER.
On April 2017 I was invited by Artist/Reader Jennet Thomas to do a 5-week residence at Wimbledon College of Arts, so, from April 19th until May 18th and for two days a week, I had the opportunity to set up a VR camp in the middle of the Print and Time-Based Media (PTBM) Studio, a big and well-illuminated room located on the second floor of the College’s intelligent building.
My plan was to display and allow students to experience a VR piece that I had already presented at the Tate Exchange event; Landscape #12. My goal was to connect with students in order to have meaningful conversations about VR technology and other related topics like 3D modelling and 3D animation.
During the residence, I had the opportunity to talk and share ideas with more than 10 students and 5 members of staff.
As a practitioner, I think this was a wonderful opportunity to talk to others about my practice and reflect about all the process of delivering a VR piece to the public. As a student, I enjoyed the opportunity to inhabit a different studio and to talk to students with different practices, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet BA students as I felt that they have a fresher look on things and are still quite open to new ideas. I believe that this kind of exercises provide a unique opportunity to create connections with peers and have meaningful cross-disciplinary conversations, I really think that this should be happening more often around UAL.
When I started using photogrammetry, a year ago, I did understand that 3D models made with it are far from perfect, however, at that moment I managed to take advantage of this to create a weird character for the collaboration I did with Jennet Thomas.
At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was going to use this technique again to create a piece for my final show. It made sense as I wanted to create an accurate 3D model from my landscape#13 piece. Since then, I had spent quite a good amount of time making/fixing the 3D model and this has made me also wonder about the challenges inherent to this technique:
180 Vs 360 degrees
One of the first things that I learned is that making 180 degrees single-sided pieces is a lot easier than making 360 degrees double-sided ones. Illumination becomes a nightmare and it is really difficult to get shots from 360 degrees inside my MA studio. I did try to hang the model from above but this did not work thanks to the micro wind currents so at the end I had to change my approach and decided to make chunks instead of a whole piece.
Another thing I learned from this project is that a number of photos you take on a particular region will affect both the density of the mesh and the quality of the texture, this becomes particularly relevant when you are making a 360 object as you might get fewer visual references in comparison with flat-shaped pieces like my landscape#12. Stitching up nightmare
Stitching and photoshopping
After creating all the 3D chunks, I imported them into Blender software. I discovered that all spatial references were gone and both the orientation and the scale of the objects was off. After arranging all the chunks I discovered that the lighting around the joining areas was uneven and after doing most of the stitching I felt that the end result wasn’t good enough. I thought that the best way to fix this would be using photoshop in order to fix the textures but this ended up being an impossible task as the whole texture of every chunk is actually a collage of 20 different and overlapping images. AT THIS POINT I WANTED TO KILL MYSELF!!!
Merging textures and reshaping UVs
Finally, after doing a lot of research I discovered that there is a procedure that allows you to bake all different textures into a single one, but before I made this, I had also to figure out how to change the existent UV layout in order to get decent size islands that I might be able to edit in Photoshop. FINALLY, I SEE THE LIGHT!
After 3 months trying to sort this out, I feel that finally, I’ve found a workflow that will allow me to produce bigger and more complex pieces. I feel that this process has forced me to change my approach several times and that the limitations/restrictions of this particular technology had had a great impact in the way I plan to make new work, I keep thinking about digital as a medium, I really feel that the way photogrammetry works will have a direct impact on how I create my future pieces.