Inside the cave – Revisiting the painting

Last week I was able to make a video render of the digital model from my landscape #13 piece. As a final touch, I added a soundtrack by Wagner called “Die Walküre”, I selected this musical background because I wanted to make a connection to a piece called “Der Riese”, a video made by artist Michael Klier. In this piece, Michael used the footage from an airport’s surveillance camera and by adding the sound, he created a narrative that was not meant to exist in the original material.

I am quite pleased with the end result. As a painter, it is quite interesting to me to be able to explore a piece from within and I feel this is really changing and expanding my approach to painting and sculpting and now I am trying to reflect on all the things I am subverting within my practice.

The active viewer

By escaping flatness, the image folds and grows on itself, so the gaze of the viewer is challenged by not being able to see everything from a set point of view, at this point, I am aware that not every viewer feels comfortable about this challenge but I also know that this opens a whole bunch of possibilities for the viewer to interact with the piece.

The evolving image

Painting sometimes becomes boring, I have to say that more than one time in the past, I have felt that the piece I was working on, became so familiar, that working on it was as enjoyable as brushing my teeth. Since I started working on 3D paintings, especially on the standalone ones, I feel that I am constantly challenged by them, not only from a technical point of view but also from a perceptual point of view, and I feel that, by not being able to see all the image at once, it keeps changing.

Shaping accident

Although I knew that using a sculpture as a canvas was a way to challenge my practice as I needed to constantly adapt due to changes in light and terrain, I was not able to imagine how the piece would actually look from within, I guess I was not aware of how it might actually mutate once I added the artificial lighting, changed the scale and added a floating point of view. Another thing I also discovered is that I could potentially intervene bot

Controlling the gaze

By using a camera that runs through a path, and then rendering a video, I am partially controlling the way the piece is looked at. Of course, one could argue that the viewer is now looking at a video rather than looking at a painting, however, I think that by being confronted with the physical sculpture, both elements become strongly bonded inside the viewer’s mind.

In the VR piece, more control is given to the viewer as he/her is able to move his/her head in any desired direction, however, I still have control over the path that the viewer is following.

Seeing with rhythm

For many years I wanted to add sound to my pieces, although I am not creating it at the moment, I am quite pleased to use this magnificent soundtrack, I believe that this adds a new layer to the piece and allows me to increase the dramatic effect obtained with the flashlight-like lighting.

Things to try in the future

  • Make an early 3D model or even playing with the concept of two different layers of paint, one will only be visible from within and the other one will be only visible from outside.
  • Create restricted access areas, forcing the viewer to look from a distance or even prevent him/her from seeing some parts from within or outside the piece.
  • Plan how the camera could potentially move following different paths.

Tate Exchange – giving and receiving

Last Wednesday I participated in the second session at the Tate Modern, It was a very good experience as I managed to present my work to several people and even engaged some interesting conversations, I also got some good feedback from people that do have a genuine interest towards painting.

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My reflection:

Thanks to this experience I do know that my piece is not for everyone, while some people really spend time teleporting themselves and watching carefully, others are expecting to play a game and quit my piece after a short period of time. I am aware that this is partly because the audience of the Tate Exchange is quite broad and with a huge variety of expectations.

When reflecting on how the whole thing is displayed i.e. physical object, VR immersion, and flat screen real-time transmission, I feel that I should get rid of the teleporting feature and replace it for a continuous navegation, at the moment, my solution will be to create a path for the Camera Rig and ask the VR player to sit down and move his/her head to look around, I feel that in this way, I will get a smoother experience for both the VR player and the spectators, I will also gain control on how the piece is viewed, in the future I could find a way to allow the VR player to move smoothly around the piece and zoom in and out on specific parts of it.

I want to add that I was quite surprised to see that some really young kids really enjoyed the experience.

 

The interface of reality

I watched this video and I was fascinated by the idea that our experience of reality is actually mediated by an interface that helps us to deal with it without having to deal with more complex elements of it, similar to what computer interfaces allow us to do when interacting with the machine.

My reflection:

I think that this video supports and validates my quest for a visual representation that escapes the restraints of de frame and perspective systems. I think that in the future I might use this analogy of an interface as a way to address the function of the work of art. An interface that represents my experiences on reality.

Big mind – small body

Today I was watching a video of David Hockney talking about his exploration on space, I thought that his questions are pretty interesting but I also think that his approach to a solution is quite “flat” and at some point I wanted to interrupt him to point out a different approach to the problem.

His work really inspires me, and I want to go beyond what he has accomplished. At one particular point (5:50 min), he pointed out that the format made the painting easy to transport, this triggered a connection inside my head, it seems that depicting reality over flat surfaces has a pretty straight connection with what is functional on a physical level, so I started thinking about my research paper and again I found traces of this idea where the physical aspect of reality and therefore our physical body tends to mediate what our mind is able to express.

In another part of the Video (8:07), Hockney says that “two dimensions don’t exist in nature” and then hi tries to explain that it is a problem of scale because if a canvas were huge then it would feel like a mountain, a bit further he refers about how we feel space and says that while standing in front of the Grand Canyon, he felt it like a 3D space but sometimes he could feel it as a flat image.

In another interesting part (13:20), he says that “we see space through time”, I really like this Idea because it makes a lot of sense, how ever, I still thinking about the problem of the flat image.

At the end he talks about how he experienced 3D cinema and how disappointing it was, he also makes a vague reference to Virtual Reality.

My reflection

Although artistic expression might be triggered inside the mind, it has to mediate and cope with the demands of the physical world in order to become physical expression (I am trying to  leave digital art out of this discussion). After doing a research on this matter, I  have got the idea that through the history of painting, physical world has had always the last word on how things are created.and that one of the biggest consequences of this is that painters from the 21th century, are still trying to depict the experience of reality over flat surfaces.

For me this is a mayor concern as I think that it is possible to evolve this way of depicting reality even for static images like paintings.

Mind and body: The problem with perspective systems

The physicality of perspective systems

Just now I was reading a paper about the perspective systems in Ancient Chinese painting. At some point I thought that maybe this obsession we have towards creating a sophisticated system that could act as an objective recipient for the depiction of reality has a lot to do with how we interact with the physical world. I mean, both Euclidean and not Euclidean geometry have proven to be useful for the making of blueprints and even build or change the physical world, so why not try to keep using them in order to depict our experience of reality?

This is an Idea that has been around for thousands of years but history has shown that Artists, specially painters have always challenged it’s rules, and I think this has to do with the fact that in order to depict reality, we have to experience it and we do this with both our physical body and our minds. So, a system that favours our physical body over our minds is not efficient.

The convenience of the Flat canvas

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From the readings I made for my research paper, I now know that linear perspective was born as an objective system to depict reality on flat surfaces, according to history this started with mirrors and was reinforced by architecture and it is obvious that flat paintings fit easily on flat walls, of course there are examples of images that do not follow this rule, in some cases, architecture is setting the path and in others, images follow the functional or symbolic uses of the object.

When you think about canvases, sketchbooks, prints and photographs it is easy to think about the convenience of the flat image, it makes easy to present it, to store it and reproduce it, so it seems that this feature of the image prevails over the content of it. It is a condition that seems almost fundamental about image creation… but is it? or better yet, should it be?

What about painting? From my experience, is really confortable to paint over a flat canvas instead of doing it over a non-flat one, but the same true for medium size canvases if compared to big or really small ones, and that is not enough reason to prefer medium size canvases. Further more, although physical comfort might be a desirable thing to have when painting, it is not always the same for mental comfort.

Convenient entrapment

So apparently, the use of both perspective systems (specially linear) and flat surfaces is convenient for practical reasons, but it does come with a price, we are trying to depict reality using tools that privilege the physical side over the mental one.

 

 

Digital Maker Week

Last week we had the second big event since the Digital Maker Collective was created, the CCW DIGITAL MAKER WEEK held at Chelsea College of Arts.

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It was a great week full of different activities around the use of digital technology, I was in charge of the Virtual/mixed reality session.

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I did enjoy the challenge of engaging in conversations with different students while building and testing a VR experience.

Hands on matter – Evolving the image

Since the beginning of my painting career, I`ve been interested in the use different materials as a way to expand the representative potential of painting. This is a short review on the most significant landmarks on this active research:

MDF – Slippery paper
2008 – 2010

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Around the year 2009, I started to experiment on this material, I was cheap so it was great for sketch making. One of the first things I learned about it was that it allowed the brush stroke to smoothly cover a bigger distance. This was one important discovery that made me aware of the convenience of smooth surfaces. The biggest downside was that you have to take really good care of it, after all, it is similar to paper.

MACHETE TIME – Shape the painting.
2011

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Around 2011, I was again working over conventional canvas and MDF was almost in the past. Although I used to do a lot of oil painting, Acrylic paint started to attract my attention. At first I used it as the first layer for oil painting but with time, my use for it grew up to the point it replaced oils.

On one point, I wanted to paint over objects, so I made two experiments with oil based painting over milk cans, this gave me a new insight so I started to paint over objects in order to build a relation between the physical shape of the object and the depicted image. I had chosen to paint over Machetes and the final outcome opened a new path for my practice, now it was all about metal, acrylic paint and polyurethane varnish.

POP – Color fields and repetition
2012 – 2013

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At this point I was really excited about using iron plaques and metal objects, I was really into acrylic painting and my motives were evolving more than ever before. I was starting to liberate from fixed photographic images and visual composition became an stimulating adventure. I felt free to experiment so I began by changing the context and the colors inside the piece. The use of patterns set the ground for the use of pixels and for the first time I took the risk of creating my first 3D painting sculptures. The downs side of Iron was that the pieces were to heavy and some of them actually ended up damaged by a combination of gravity and hard floor.

OILY LOVE – Landscape and flesh
2014 – 2015

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I am not sure why, maybe it was the speed of things or the size of my expectations or the way I used to push things, by the beginning of 2014 I was exhausted and with a bitter taste on my mouth. I needed to find the joy that was missing on my brush strokes, I needed to take a deep breath and recover my energy, it was time for oil painting.

Landscapes and Figure were my main source for inspiration. I stayed well away from traditional canvas by using several different materials e.g. Fiberglass with paper collage, synthetic paper and found objects. I started to embrace more elements of the digital aesthetics e.g. pixels, glitches, color aberration, overexposure, bad framing, blurriness.

3D painting – Layers of reality
2015-2016

Around April 2015 I started working on 3D paper models, I was trying to find an affordable and flexible way to create three dimensional models. The use of Blender introduced me to 3D image composition, now I had the opportunity to compose and alter the 3D shape of the image.

Once I started my MA in London, I was able take things further thanks to the use of a 3D printing, this opened things for me because I was no longer limited by the complexity of the shape I wanted to create, or at least, that is what I though.

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After a while, some issues were starting to be a real problem, firstly, 3D printing is a fairly complex process and a lot of things may go wrong (and actually did), secondly, affordable 3D printing has serious size restrictions, finally, 3D printers are delicate equipment and by February 2016 the College’s 3D printer was damaged (and still is). Although I was upset at the beginning, this ended up being an opportunity to take things further both on digital and physical grounds.

Camberwell Roller Coaster – Going VR
March 2016

On March 2016 I made my first site specific VR project, It was a piece that explored the use of 3D software to reflect about the perception of space while expanding the formal elements of Digital Photography. This project also introduced my self into 360 video production.

Landscape extrusion – Modeling and Sculpting
March – April 2016

A month ago I was thinking on how to make bigger 3D physical objects without 3D printing nor 3D paper modeling. My first option was to assemble several MDF laser cut silhouettes. Although it was a pretty interesting process, I ended up on a dead end once I realized that it was going to be a pretty complex task to make it a strong and lightweight piece.

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After awhile, I remembered a talk I had with the technician of the 3D workshop, we talked about several materials and one of them seemed to be suited for my present needs; polystyrene foam sheets. Last week I made a new model from a landscape and now I am modeling the physical piece while reflecting about the different aspects of this new kind of process and how it fits into my practice…

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…and that is why I needed to write this post.

360 + hours to render!

Last week I started to work on an animation for a VR presentation that I made yesterday. When I was working on Blender, I decided to check if it was possible to make a 360 video of this animation, I discovered that it was actually very easy to set the parameters to render this kind of video, however, the difficult part is actually rendering the video on a decent quality. Now I know that I have to find a powerful computer to get it right.

So far I’ve made 4 attempts, this is the one with the biggest quality :/
TRY IT ON YOUR MOBILE

A single man with a lot say

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A week ago I saw the movie “A single man” by Tom Ford, it a was really interesting movie and I ended up thinking about three different scenes and one of them in particular has inspired me to do an experiment, that is why I’m going to publish this post in both my Influences and work sections.

The scenes:

The first and maybe the most relevant scene for me was the one in which George (Colin Firth) visits his friend Charlie (Juliane Moore), right when they meet on the front door, another scene fades in, it is a fragment from a previous scene where Charlie found out about the death of his lover. This this momentary overlapping made me thing about time compression not only in movies but also on images.

The second scene that captivated me was the one where George and his young student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult)  where talking inside a bar, at one moment,  the young guy replied: “we are born alone, we die alone, and while we are here we are absolutely, completely sealed in our own bodies”… “We can only experience the outside world through our own slanted perception of it. Who knows what youʼre really like. I just see what I think youʼre like.”

Finally, the third part of the movie that captured my attention was just before the end, when George experiences an epiphany and says: “A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity when, for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh, it’s as though it had all just come into existence.  I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments.  They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be”.

When I saw this I felt something clicked in my head, I guess that we humans try to hold on to our most memorable moments just like a drunk guy clings to the railing while he awkwardly descends the staircase. They are like keyframes on a time line and on some rare moments, our immediate experience pulls them into the stage creating an ambiguous moment where past and present collide on to each other.

The experiment:

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We don’t have to ve friends sketch#1

This is the first sketch I made using the model of the composition of an experience.

Reflection:

This sketch shows a really complex representation of reality, the process I used to map the UVs is not ideal because I had to work each piece separated from the others, therefore I only saw the result at the end, also, this technique didn’t allow me to actively integrate the different parts as a whole.