Archive for the ‘2010’ Category

Ben Laposky


I visited the V&A exhibition Decode: Digital Design Sensations. It was a lot of fun of the waving your hands in the air variety. The V&A is running a series of Digital Art events and another show tucked way upstairs in an empty gallery displayed the work of several pioneers in Digital Art (or New Media, or Computer or Process Art as it was variously called back then). There were some fascinating prints by Harold Cohen, and early Paul Browns, and even one by James Faure Walker. But my favourite were the simple pleasures offered by Ben Laposky’s Oscillons. Described as one of the forefathers of computer generated art, he took long exposure photographs capturing the fluctuating electrical signal from an oscilloscope.

Here’s one, Oscillon 40 from 1952


Kinetica 2010


I visited Kinetica 2010 this weekend. A show full of artists who make things which move. Very few of them seemed to be interested in depicting human motion; much of it was just sophisticated interior design, like expensive Fiber Optic lamps, but the inclusion (this year) of some of the pioneers of kinetic/electronic art left the impression that a radical art practise based on electricity was possible. Inevitably, hardly any of the kinetic master pieces still worked, for example, Edward Ihnatowicz’s SAM flower was dead on the spot.

The real excitement of the show was in a few young artists who treat computers/electronics/projectors as a natural component of art. What I suppose you could call the Digital Artists.

I was inspired by the work of Daniel Hirschmann: prints generated using webcams and algorithmically manipulated in Processing. He described how he used a live camera feed as a palette of colours.

Movement generates various particle systems that are attracted to the centres of the detected movements. These particles become the brush strokes, rendering themselves based on the colour palette of the live video stream. He then prints these vector images out as Giclee prints and sells them. Every print is highly detailed, can be generated by the buyer, and is unique. I was very impressed by his art model, and also by the type of effects he had programmed. This is the type of model I had in mind for the London-Boccioni prints.

Some of Daniel’s works are precise, geometric, delicate & often light infused you can find out more about his art on his website.

For my project, I had something more fluid in mind. Here’s a photo taken on the bus on the way home which suggests a churning kinetic London.

Repetitive Strain Injury 2


I’ve finished my latest model called Repetitive Strain Injury which traces out through time, an exercise I carried out to ease a sore shoulder. It has a crudity but also a strength to it, and is very interesting to walk around.

I had to counter balance the heavy arm by hollowing out the opposite leg and filling it with wads of one pence pieces and modelling clay. It now sits comfortably on its panton chair. Here are some more views.

The model is just under 1m high, here’s a shot of it next to The artist falling off a plinth, in both models the human is the same size.

Estorick – On The Move


I visited the Estorick Collection recently as they are showing an exhibition called On the Move: Visualising Action. The collection specialises in Italian Futurism and the exhibition curated by Jonathan Miller is a natural extension of the Futurists’ interest in all things dynamic. Almost all the art shown was known to me but it was still a treat to see a Marey sculpture of a seagull in the flesh and one of his camera guns.

There was a strange Thomas Eatkins Multiple Exposure called Differential action study : man on ladder, moving horses stripped leg, while second man at left looks on (1885). Eatkins was an innovator in motion photography for artists (following the Muybridge model) and is considered “the strongest, most profound realist in nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century American art”. His attempted accuracy of observation and title is touching.

Also present are some photos (or should that be snapshots) by Lartigue. He was amoung the first to have a fast enough camera to freeze motion and he used it to fun effect during the turn of the century.

The bulk of the show is photography – the perfect technology to visualise motion, and the technical achievements of Edgerton are still striking 50 years on. Edgerton cautioned, “Don’t make me out to be an artist. I am an engineer. I am after the facts, only the facts.” One of Edgerton’s fellow engineers was called Djon Mili and his name was new to me. His photographs of dancers for Life magazine certainly tip the balance firmly from science toward art.

Another photograph commisioned by Life magazine was this portrait of Marcel Duchamp walking down a flight of stairs, taken by Eliot Elisofon. While I find its coming-full-circle-ness slightly lumpen, I have to admit that the driving force in a lot of this art is of technology enabling the artists to see something new – this was true in Duchamp’s time (he needed the photos of Marey to work from), it was true in 1952 (when strobe lighting enables the effect below), and it is true now in my project (software/hardware didn’t exist to do it 10 years ago).

Contemporary art was represented by Idris Khan, Jonathan Shaw and the exhibition tentatively suggested that in the future, 3d CAD systems would be used as a way of visualising motion with a lovely bird flight prototype by Geoffrey Mann. Hopefully in the future I can work more closely with the gallery on a project.

For anyone interested in the artistic depiction of motion this show is a must see. It is on until mid april. Here’s a link to the Estorick Collection website.

Repetitive Strain Injury


I’ve constructed the latest model, sitting on the right below.


Here are some images from the construction process.

First the slices are enlarged through projection so that the size of the pieces fits with the scale I’m working with – in this case to sit on a small chair I bought I needed the bottom to be 30 cm off the floor.


The outlines are traced onto large cardboard sheets (6mm thick). The double ply corrugated card was bought from this packaging company


These are cut out by hand – for this model about 200 parts.


And glued together using PVA adhasive. To get the pieces to match accurately I mark them on each side with alignment lines as can be seen well on the foot.


The work here is like building a huge puzzle.


All of the processes above are liable to inaccuracy as they are dependent on variations in cardboard thickness and warp. Also the process I use is fairly quick – a day for this whole process, so the finished model will not be as objective as I initially planned – but given the abstraction in the voxelisation method (discussed previously) I think spending too long here to maintain accuracy would be inappropriate. The papier-mache outer skin, to come, will also increase the abstraction by a huge step.