Why must art students learn coding?

I’m not opposed to it. I’m actively organising it for my particular barrel of monkeys. But the opinion seems to be much stronger than the reasoning and I would be glad to hear a well formed argument as to why Mary has to put down the paintbrush and start to type…

… what? That’s the other thing. This expert wants Processing. That one is all for Max. Is Max coding? There’s Python and Objective C and snapping blocks together Scratch style. Sometimes I hear that such and such is only scripting which isn’t coding and well that just won’t do!

843858-trs80_i

Look, when I was a teen I bought one of the very first home computers (the Trash 80) and sat down and learned how to code. I exhibited my nasty machine code hacking of a C64 in public way back in the early 80’s and have tried very hard to keep up with developments since. So I’m not swayed by platitudes like ‘coding is just like sketching and artists need to sketch ideas’. Excuse me, it’s nothing like sketching and anyone who says that should write their own paint software from scratch as punishment (I did that once, it sucked).

I am grateful for any considered opinion from people who have actually coded. Please no philosophers. Why is coding something that art/design students should learn?

Also: http://workfunc.com/differences-between-programmers-and-coders/

Operation “Big Iron”

Over the years I’ve been lucky to have many artistic opportunities – but I don’t need to tell you that opportunity rarely equals reality; good ideas often fall apart in the planning stages. When I was young and even more stupid, I would tell everyone wonderful things were going to happen, then eat socks in penance when nothing came of it. But I still get very excited & so I only announce project code names – if they die I can always pop them in a memory hole. There’s mystery in project naming as well as making merry with corporate culture. But at risk of sock eating I’d like to break protocol and talk about Big Iron because I think it’s on the verge of coming together and it relates to the last post.

2013 and the new broom.

I work at an art college, which sometimes feels like being a waiter on the Titanic. Of all the things that are waiting to be swept away, the art college is the one with KICK ME pinned to its backside. In consequence our executive are dragging the place over to be a research laboratory of some sort. We have a robotics lab now, which says, ‘do not shut us down we make potential weapons,‘ I guess.

My area is the sound and image coursework. That’s been about production – making movies, recording music. Given that plenty of places do that, there’s a need to be unique and not second fiddle to the competition. I have formed an idea – and it relates to the old band.

synthetics

First you should know that Stephen R Jones wrote a history of the synthetic image in Australia. The book stops in 1975, but the study goes on – he has collected the original masters of important works going back through the complete history of the subject. The collection is private but some of it may be seen online through the Scanlines website which was put together by a team at the college including Stephen, Ross Harley and John Gillies.

Stephen wants to find a home for some of the hardware he’s built. Part of the old studio is on display at the Powerhouse Museum – but in a glass case where you can’t touch it. We both think that a museum should be a living place. So the idea comes to build a space on campus where the history of the synthetic image can continue to be made.

Experimental Television Workshop?

I want to build what used to be called an Experimental Television Workshop. ‘Television’ is no longer the right word, and there’s a few problems that need discussion.

A workplace that pools production equipment for artistic access has been tried all over the world many times. Perhaps the best known is the Experimental Television Centre. In Australia we’ve had Bush Video, Heuristic, Metro Screen, and more. They provided people with access to new equipment that was too expensive for their alternative ideas. One reason why the workshops have declined is that you can now buy a HD camera, a copy of VDMX and a laptop and have more power than the pioneers could even conceive. Access is no longer the problem.

Rather, this ETW is planned to disrupt the historical lineage. ‘New’ and ‘old’ are worthless ideas and the value is only in the outcome. If you use a tissue and comb and the result is beautiful, then all is good. The only reason to collect historical devices is that they encapsulate ways of thinking otherwise unavailable and therefore expand the creative potential.

I can illustrate this with tape recorders – I find no importance in recording to analogue tape compared to a digital system that emulates tape. But I do find value in analogue tape as a way to grab and bend and scrub sound recordings.

Big Iron 2 copy

Some of the ‘Fridge’. Needs some love.

The heart of the system would be the Stephen Jones ‘Fridge’ video synthesiser from the mid 1980’s. There were models before and models after, but this one has a story that Stephen and I share, and for this reason alone I wish to fund its reassembly. I think the colour that this version makes is nicer than the models afterwards, due in part to the included Fairlight Paintbox.

The college owns equipment which is suitable as well. One favourite of mine is the Panasonic MX-30 mixer which I use to do things like this:

These old things will need to be tied to new things in such a way as it doesn’t matter whether you’re using The Fridge or VDMX, just that the outcome is what you wanted. I see a lot of Blackmagic Design in my future.

Synthetics.

The workshop will be part of clearly structured coursework that covers the history and meaning of synthetic video. It must never be allowed to degenerate into a meaningless VJ fetish, and that means carefully chosen artists in residence and plenty of background research before people get to twiddle.

It’s fair to ask why synthetic visuals should be the focus. Why not high definition or interactivity? Why not documentary, after all that’s one of the courses I teach?

I think that linear documentary and narrative are not dependent on video, they are film. Sure, video solved issues of community access and cost and there’s live broadcast, but these are not things unique to an art college and the Film & Television school is a better venue for this. An art college should first consider the relationship between painting and video.

Interactivity is the business of iCinema. The ETW should cover performance, which is a very different thing.

High Definition is nice to have but hasn’t prevented great work that inspires this project, and at worst aspires to be filmic. You can think I’m being bigoted and I welcome the guidance, but in the long run somebody has to put their personality into a creative environment, just as much as an artwork.

What happens next.

I have to make sure everybody at the college is in agreement. There is much to build and repair, it will probably be a year before the facility could be working. In America all the bits and pieces I need are all over eBay, here they are rare and I will have to meet people who have collected the parts I need and see if they have unwanted things they would like to contribute.

So if you happen to have a Video Cox Box sitting in storage, do let me know!

bloody Education bloody Technology

Hey! It’s the inter-sessional break! You know, that period of about 5 weeks which looks like you are going to get so much done while you’re not teaching, only to find that administration will fill every waking moment! People outside of academia always think those big gaps in the contact weeks mean a blissful slumber for half the year – try it some time bubba, just try it.

general-motors-crash-test-dummies

I’ve already mentioned we’re switching to new degree – the first lot of test subjects have now been through the grinder. You ever seen one of those shows where they strap test dummies into planes and then crash them into the desert? Yeah, like that. The results are not public information, but I can tell you that blissful slumber is not part of it. I’m happy that some of my intuitions have turned out to be valid, although I’m still going to tweak damn near everything now I have seen it in action.

Anyway, as I’ve already moaned, the powers that be want us to move a lot of skills teaching off the agenda. Just make up some links to YouTube, yada yada. I keep saying that most of the teaching is really bad and we need to get some kind of structure up. You say things like that and you get the job of doing it. Because I have nothing to do all day right?

OK so where do you put all this learning? The university has a division called TELT which handles the tech stuff in teaching. Problem is that TELT spends most of its time trying to get a handle on the problem.

The TELT Evaluation Framework, developed in 2009 through to 2011, is designed to undergo iterative cyclical refinement and ongoing development, based on the results of the sub-layer evaluations themselves and an ever-changing staff, student and application landscape in which it is applied.

Therefore, readers are reminded that the nature, validity and applicability of the reviewed literature, the proposed processes, the suggested composition of the survey instruments, and the construction of the sub-layers are all likely to change in the future and undergo refinement and improvement in order to adapt to the evolving social, technological and institutional milieu.

You got that? Good. Build a house on that. I have built several, all of which have collapsed. But you gotta undergo iterative cyclical refinement and so this year I am starting up a Wiki. These have been around long enough that they probably are going be around for at least a few more years. The best thing is that if I write something in there some other staff member is bound to disagree and join up just to edit it. Which means they might write some other article that somebody else hates and they join too.

As well as articles I need to develop some kind of tablet kind of thing. Now I keep hearing that every single student in the universe has a tablet. That my own experience is the opposite is probably something about the application landscape sub-layers, so go ahead. Problem here is that lots of tools make excellent teaching modules, but in Flash. Flash is perfect for what I want to do but doesn’t work on one brand of tablet. The tools for that one brand of tablet are locked out from use on any other kind.

Then there’s HTML5. Since 2010 we’ve been waiting for some kind of standard. It doesn’t exist. Promises get made, conferences are held, people write books, no standard that runs across platforms. HTML5 has done more to sell magazines and blogs than it has created any viable media. It’s been coming so long that it’s just breathing heavy. Just something that got all the dweebs excited before they ran off and bought Googly Glasses.

html5-logo-348x196

…that promised so much, and in the end gave so little.

In the tools I’m testing I keep finding long lists of things not supported in HTML5 – video, sound, words longer than five letters, more than one kind of ugly button with a drop shadow. Bottom line is HTML5 remains a very unattractive format for anyone that wants to get solid work done. I would rather use Flash, which in reality works perfectly fine on the laptops my students actually carry.

Not saying I’ve closed my mind, but I’d like to get started. After all, there’s now one less week of this ‘break’ left.

Ralph Balson – paint musician.

When I was working on The Shape Of A Note I was assisted by the Penrith Regional Gallery in trying to find works that could be described as musical. Obviously it’s easiest to do that in the era when painters themselves used music as a guide – Kandinsky and Mondrian are the obvious references but the students around the Penrith region weren’t going to see these in person. But, said the Gallery, perhaps you could use Ralph Balson?

Ralph Balson? Damn! Here was a painter that (and OK painting isn’t my big thing) I knew nothing about and yet it was immediately obvious that this was exactly the mind I was seeking. It’s a bridge over to the theosophists and their colour music, the video synthesists of the late 20th Century, maybe even The New Aesthetic if I’m really lucky.

Here’s someone that lived in the same place as I did and overlapped with the people I learned from. He died 2 years after I was born otherwise I’d be around to his place with a case of VB and a lot of questions.

Socially, Balson was shy and reticent. Between 1949 and 1959 he taught part time at East Sydney Technical College. Students respected this near-sighted, suburban painter, with his tradesman’s clothes, who made no display of ego. – Aus Dict. of Biography

(East Sydney Tech College is now the National Art School, it’s where I did the Barbara Island show, which I hope Balson would have liked.) I’m not sure what I’d ask him. Probably, “Oh adopted Wise Master can you see what’s burning a hole in my head trying to figure out what this MUSIC thing is?” “Oh ascendant house painter, why am I concerned with shit that was last important in 1915?” The answer would vary on the amount of VB.

Maybe you’re looking at this stuff and thinking you saw a rug at the local shopping centre that looks a bit like this. It’s true that Balson and his crew inspired more design than fine arts. That’s OK, film is still an artform despite BATTLESHIP. Also it must be said that he moved on to other more complicated work that I am still coming to terms with, and I may be a clifford. For reasons of research I am tweaked on this constructed art at the moment and probably the little things are overly big in my mind. Still, it’s a part of the painterly arts that needs connection to those that are trending at the moment.

I am glad to hear he had a friend. I don’t know why I am less religiously transformed by Grace Crowley’s work – I like it but for some reason Balson is doing some trick with my brain. Perhaps she is less ‘musical’.

At home with Ralph and Grace

She certainly deserved more respect. “It was not until the 1950s, when Crowley was in her sixties, that a public gallery exhibited her abstract works.” And you complain.

Roy de Maistre is worth a mention, but then he never really dedicated himself to the ideal the way this pair did. In quickly and out the door fast. I’ll stick with Ralph.

An Essay on ye Olde Aesthetik

PART ONE.

I just went off for a quick toilet break and by the time I got back some nong had announced a ‘New Aesthetic’. Actually the first inkling was some whining from the Hauntology crew that somebody had dared to be excited about something other than 1970’s English shopping centres and Thunderbirds. Which of course is NOT ABOUT MY CHILDHOOD OH DEAR NO it’s a legitimate philosophical stance with Derrida shoved into the middle of it like a spoon in a tub of yoghurt. They’ve identified the ‘New Aesthetic’ as a 80’s obsession because they see everything measured in decades. But it’s not, it’s something far less.

Derrida

All this howling of English dorks led me to a tragically bad essay by Bruce Sterling which is yet another low point for Wired Magazine, proof that minus infinity can be breached. In a sloppy porridge of words the phrase ‘the New Aesthetic’ repeats in dreary multiples. It’s one paragraph time stretched so I jumped to the blog cited which didn’t seem that more interesting than the usual wacky picture compilation – yet another jump got me to the original brain fart. As a purveyor of such farts myself I’m pretty sure we’ve got a rockin’ case of intellectual comb over.

It goes like this: think of the modernist viewpoint that existed in the ‘space age’. It led to ‘a way of seeing’, a zeitgeist, inspiration, an aesthetic. But modernity was shallow and collapsed under the critique of the post modern, which has in turn been parasitic, ineffectual and implausible. Now there exists a new aesthetic that is built upon a new positive viewpoint, the computer eye, the web, the online society and so on. This positive is needed at this time and should be followed.

Like any good story, it requires that you ignore elements that don’t fit the flow; ignorance or ‘operational definitions’ depending on who’s talking. And it’s NOT ABOUT MY CHILDHOOD OH DEAR NO. Get to the heart: if you think animated GIFs are the genesis of a new way of seeing then step right up…

…there’s a website that you should see called You’re The Man Now Dog. It’s just deluged in The New Aesthetic. But if you’re too smart to fall for that trap let’s have a look at what’s really going on here.

…we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder is a fine idea. It renounces cynicism and that’s good. Just today I was carting groceries home and tried to see the familiar streets as if I was a tourist. But that principle works for anything, and very quickly the instruction became we need to see the technologies we actually have as if they posses some artistic worth beyond the everyday. By the time Wired got its dentures into it; you should repair your ignorance about something that looks more or less like a weltanschauung.

What do they mean by ‘see’? The actual physical evidence presented is the current version of a Front 242 record cover; with the pixels, the colours, the timecode in the corner, the gun/camera sight. This kind of thing was really cool in 1988. Now it’s really cool in 2012. New Media is back, having had a bottle of milk and a midday nap, ready to smear brightly coloured pixels on walls. I already denounced this in 2008.

Never tired of CyberPaint

This is just a style. So let’s have the real stories that go with this style, not the unicorn horn that Wired wants to manufacture.

PART TWO

Jack Tramiel died recently; Jack that ran Commodore and then Atari. The style begins with the limits of the machines that Jack built. The look is entwined with the tools; we saw a new wonder in the technology we actually had. With every new version of Deluxe Paint the community would push it as hard as they could to reach the limits of their imaginations. What the New Aesthetic proposes was there, and still there when the tools are transparent.

I’ve revisited the tools I used around the time that New Media was being born. I’ve used 3D Studio since 1994 and the software always seems a vast landscape that I will never be able to encompass. I went back and installed the oldest copy of 3D Studio I could find:

What at the time seemed impossibly complex and futuristic now seems clunky and limited. The 256 colour renders look hand carved from soap and the interface feels like I’m snow blind. It was a shock to hit the limits of this tool in a couple of hours. Compare to the 3D Studio Max I use now:

which will seem just as clunky and toy like in 2030.

But each is equal in its own time, part siren and part antagonist in a drama of creativity. You are granted a vision, you move towards it, you never reach it. That’s what I mean by the tools being transparent – the intention and the vision is the same and the limitations are the LEAST INTERESTING thing about the art. Not worth the name ‘aesthetic’.

To fetishise pixels and bright colours and animated GIFs and all that misses the artistic vision that was being followed, one that these tools could not / may not ever satisfy. Those are the exact things that we did NOT SEE, and only through a retrospective viewing do they become a kind of arty version of  ‘Magnets, How Do They Work?’

I can vaguely recall what I saw in my head when I was looking at


and I sure wasn’t thinking about the modern aesthetics of 64 colour dithering. I was trying to make as best a picture as I could.

Actually, the hauntology guys are closer to the truth. These old tools recall ghosts of people and places that flesh out my own personal history. It’s about they way my hand reached up and typed F10 to make the picture full screen without my concious recall. It’s ALL ABOUT MY CHILDHOOD.

{If you too want a seance with your motor memory: I found all of these oldies online without too much trouble, but if you want help and directions just ask.}

P.S. Stephen M Jones wants me to post this

spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can

which I think just puts the cherry on top.

Software! Feck! Arse!

(In which your host is summoned by Apple to answer for insubordination, and learns how little he knows about Ableton Live.)

So the various imps and demons of Kunst Kamp finally got together and debated what to do about this Final Cut Pro business. No one was particularly interested in ‘upgrading’ to the new version, instead voting by raised claws and chain rattling to keep the older version 7 going as long as possible. We have a few more years of a service contract – I don’t know how that will work given that any service would be ‘here, use this new one instead’. But we paid for it, so by Jove we’ll get served!

The Grand Master of Evil Imps got up and made a speech on behalf of Lightworks, which led to a zesty pounding of skull drums and fireballs from the chorus until it was pointed out that it didn’t run on Macs (“story of my fucking life”, I said) and the Dungeon Keeper got that look he gets when he thinks someone is talking about PCs in his dungeon! I hid under the table for a while.

The eldest Ghoul made a point about Media Composer, and that the children would all likely get jobs if that was taught. This was my time to stand on all three legs and take a contrary view. In my time in the Kamp, be it so short in comparison to the esteemed gentlemen I addressed, I had never heard any student evince any interest in Media Composer and what is more, I wished to point out that it was in fact an AVID product (and what howls were raised at that word) which meant DONGLES (more howls) and the DAE! (laments, and howls at crescendo). Nay, I said, pressing the advantage, we have already collected most of the runes – PS, AI, AE, ID, DW etc. etc. and what seemed best to me was that we just go ahead and add PR to that, particularly as that was what they used in China. And then sat down with a knowing air.

There was grumbling. I knew that grumbling was going to result. The Ghoul was still sure that AVID was how jobs were to be had. I agreed, and suggested that we install it and then HE could be the person that answered all the questions. That put an end to that and the vote was to just get Première and maybe a few Media Composer seats as punishment for postgrads.

Strangely enough just after the vote we were sent an invitation by Apple to come see their new version again. Perhaps we had not understood the worth of joining the New Order? It would be a pity to be wrong and besides there would be lunch. The Local Genius would himself do the mousing. Lunch. Very exclusive, only people from the Death Star to be invited. I don’t have time for lunch (I actually work, amazingly enough) but I thought we should give them one more go. Maybe the Genius will reveal the hidden switch that allows the user to save files where they want them, or just save files at all. Myself and the Dungeon Master will go, the Imps just bared their rears at the idea as they are wont to do.

Today I was invited to the local Live School. The topic was Max For Live and perhaps they thought I knew something about it because of my gnome. Everybody agreed that Max For Live was a wonderful thing that would be wonderful to know about. Wonderful, but rather tricky. While we fumbled about, one fellow taught MaxMSP to a much younger participant with a disturbing ability to learn things like other people eat peanuts – he had a working synthesiser in a few minutes and live video in about 15 minutes. God knows what he’ll be like when he reaches Year 10.

I asked some foolish noob questions about Live, but damn I didn’t know that you could name scenes with the BPM. Or how you can merge multiple sets into one by using groups. RTFM – I thought I had. I’m just getting to the point where I get Live and I think this is going to be it from now on. Particularly when we played with some of the stuff people have been recently making in M4L – I was shown a tool that morphs between mixer scenes with regions designated on an X-Y surface. So you can do a live cross morph between the full set up of two or more songs. This solves the question of how I was going to have multiple tracks segued in the upcoming show without needing to load anything.

So long as I don’t have to actually author this stuff…

LikLik Retpela Hat

Here it is. My contribution to the Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras. Or as the mouth breathing scum that rejoice in the title ‘common people’ call it: “The Mardi Gras” with all that pervert stuff taken out. Oh they will be there – the radio has been pumping ‘I Will Survive” all week. Every straight guy within a km of Oxford Street is lisping and mincing but will be back to bashing pooftas and Muslims next week. Woo! Woo!

If I had a float, it would have Superintendent Mike Thomas on it. I don’t know what he looked like but he’d be the main attraction. I reckon. I think he was the Phantom.

Or Condoman, who as a near brother of the Phantom did all he could to save the indigenous population from AIDS. Back when we had Labor government. Don’t get me started, I can usually hold my inner Bolshie in check but the mouth breathers have been particularly bad recently.

Perhaps why Pauline Pantsdown is doing a show this weekend. Whenever I feel a bit queasy about going out and doing more shows I thank god that unlike Simon at least I don’t have to put back on the greasepaint. But it’s started to slide again and somebody has to …

INTERMISSION – Some drunk English dolly bird has fallen out of the Cricketers Arms into in my doorway babbling glottal stops on her smart phone like a parody of every UK Washed Up Raver Moved To The Colonies – “nah mate, it’s called Dub Side Of The Moon, Geddit? Drum And Bass! Wicked! Australians GO OFF this Mardi Gras mate not like back home of course what time is it there yeah got a job here cold calling gonna go to Thailand next” etc. etc.

If we are going to put people “on the boats and send them back” like the mouth breathers want can we start with this lot thanks. At least get out of my fucking doorway thank you. There, peace again.

Anyway. Simon teaches sound production at KUNST KAMP and is rightly known as one of the few locals to raise a ruckus over the evil racist shit that was going on at the time. He was rewarded with some popularity which didn’t save him from a bollocking at the same Homebake festival at which we performed in 1998. Of course the kids think something is hilarious, but even more hilarious is to beat up the person who did it. Then forget.

(sips his Victory Gin). No hope in the Proles.

This is getting maudlin. We need a joke. So the young bohemians are in need of a model again. Seems that Olde Darlinghurst is back in style, and they have discovered Madeleine Preston’s photo archive from the 1980’s. I enjoy this because I was there, but I can’t imagine why anyone else would. For example, my old drum machine:

Will the youth of today set fire to theirs so it looks chic toasted? Anyway the joke is a fashion glossy is going to be covering that extremely chic band Severed Heads and wondered if I had a bigger copy of:

Such style! Such Poise! And some minimal synth! He looks like he just realised he needs to go to the toilet and the synthesiser is too heavy to lift. The reality is it’s 1984 and I think we’re doing something for City Slab Horror. The scary thing is half the people I recognise in this photo archive are already dead.

I quite like this one:

The party is really swinging! On the floor is Bradbury and Cornaga probably arguing about something. On the bed please admire my taste in red socks and cheap trousers. Only the best from the local opportunity shop! Obviously rapt in conversation and cheap cask wine is the divine Chlorine Presley Smith who was the woman who tolerated me at the time. This is what people did before the Internet folks! Glower at each other.

(sips his Victory Gin.)

Death Star remains Supreme

Universities are odd. They are filled with students; at the larger campuses you might have 40,000 – 50,000 of them rolling up and down the aisles. A Sensible Person would look at the place and decide that teaching was the main business. But a university is kind of like an Evil Genius Island – the surface is covered in hotels while underneath are secret labs where the doomsday device is being constructed.

In general an academic has three roles – to teach, to research and to administrate. You’re supposed to devote about equal time to each, but everybody tends to fall into one role more than the others. When I first became a full time academic I concentrated on improving the teaching (it needed it), then got more admin happening (needed it) but began to notice that working on the Death Ray Project earned more respect. If you’re research active, you’re Pulling Your Weight, Making A Difference, Part Of The Team Moving Forward.

Research in the Arts is also odd. It just means doing what you would normally do – paint, or record or whatever – but then applying documentation and economics to it.

For example:

‘Going Off’. WRONG.
‘Demonstrating an emotional context in live performance’. BETTER.

‘Documenting an emotive human response to a specific pattern of tones in a social context’. BETTER AGAIN.

‘Applying a metric to emotive responses such that Australian media exports are provided with a cost effective means to compete on world markets’.
ORGASM.

Like my work supervisor says – it’s just about describing what you do in the right language. That word ‘metric’ is the gorilla – it mean some thing that you can measure, document and apply in a governmental context. Slowly I am learning how to say what I do in the language that keeps the bean counters happy.

We have some staff that do this as their main role. Whereas I might submit about 2 things I have done each year they pull out a tower of paper and slam it on the desk. But in general we Digital Media guys are more about gigging than paperwork, so the results are kind of impressive:

Click to make big.

I warned you about metrics. What you’re seeing is how the Federal Government thinks about universities. This is their Santa List – who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. It’s not ‘gee I like your stuff’, it’s who gets the Cash next year. Let me help: this is the chart for 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media, which is a category of research. The quality of research can be 1 to 5, where 5 means ‘as good as those people overseas’ (and no that’s not a joke they really think that way.) Only one Australian institution got a 5 and let me just say THE WINE WILL FLOW FREELY AT KUNST KAMP.

Actually the Death Star kicked arse across all of category 19. Which means the Vice Chancellor will allow us our lives for time being (‘but do not fail me, or I will eat your still beating heart’).

My supervisor's supervisor's supervisor.

Given that we just took on a couple of new research projects at the Kamp (which I’ll have to talk about later) the arse is going remain kicked.

So please, if you hear me talking about my artistic projects this year in a strange quasi-English that seems to be accounting talk – be kind, it’s just me trying to do my job. And when you’re trying to explain the metrics of a track called Walrus Guitars, it’s kind of difficult.

Three Generations of Three Dimensions

Grandma Ellard’s Stereographoscope. According to ‘the internet’ there were many of these made, most are French and ‘of poor quality’. This one doesn’t seem to take the oldest kind of stereo card, but is quite happy with cards made in the 1960’s – I would think it was made around 1920.

Click for Big

The cards I have were included in cereal packets in the 60s – despite three boys eating through Rice Bubbles as fast as possible I don’t have a full set, but lots of duplicates.

Pa Ellard’s Viewmaster Model G made in Belgium and I suspect bought in Switzerland in 1968. Continuing the tradition of buying the cheap and cheerful. But it brought a lot of pleasure to my growing years.

Although the reel says ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’ it’s actually scenes from the TV series UFO – episode 13 Close Up. Mainly effects shots but I recall that there were some actors on the other discs, so they must have shot at least some of the show as 3D stills. American disc made 1969.

Tom Ellard’s FinePix Real3D W3 bought in a discount bin in January 2011. The salesboy remarked how fast they were selling, which wasn’t the brightest pitch seeing as I’d been watching the pile of unsold cameras get cheaper for about a month. (The previous version was named The Worst Camera Ever Made and only sold in the hundreds. Cool!)

Main advantage of course is that it records stereoscopic images and video, so you can make your own ‘boring images with depth cues’ (ViewMaster had a still camera as well). The screen at the back is autostereoscopic and quite impressive once your brain slides into synch with the display. What I found more interesting is how after using the camera for a while I had dreams with exaggerated depth, which suggests that the perceptive work the brain was doing was being garbage collected along with all the other data of the day.

Still images are much easier to compose in 3D. Video seems unstable, at least the test shots I’ve done so far.

(Yeah it’s a student information day, I was bored.) This Anaglyph version created with MPO Toolbox. See also Stereo Photo Maker which does many things including making printed versions of images that’ll fit in Grandma Ellard’s Stereographoscope.

And thus nature balances itself.

COFA Annual is up.

Sorry for r e a l l y slow responses – particularly people who ordered CDs and are still waiting for delivery.
I sometimes apologise that “the day job currently requires all my time”. This is an example of the day job in overload mode.

The COFA Annual exhibition is up, this year around 350 exhibits filling up Carriageworks for a week. We survived the two opening nights and for me it was a lot of stringing cables, swearing at computers, getting projectors to power up etc. The usual panic & digital slavery.

In the past I just put together the media for Showcase night, but this year stupidly suggested setting up four user controlled viewing kiosks running off Blu Ray. That means that the kids can dial up their own film when they come visit. With nearly sixty short films filling nearly four hours submitted we’ve really hit a high – but that means authoring four Blu Rays where every little setting has to be checked over sixty times or the discs play wrong. Each fix/rebuild takes about 2 hours, and as of about 4pm yesterday I was screaming death at the burner, running out of time to get the kiosks up for doors open…

They were up for doors open.

Of course there was yet one more tiny error on disc 4 which means I’m back authoring it again around 11pm. A mystery stop after two hours (finally found a stop command attached to a chapter, overriding the end action of the time line. Arse.)

Funny addendum to the post about ‘end of the world’ films: at one point all four screens had one playing. It really is striking how many variations on doom scape we had this year – rapture, virus, atomic war, time collapse and of course zombies. Another thing we’re noticing – music boxes.

Once these are under control it’s time to get the Showcase built and THERE CAN BE NO ERRORS. Been no errors since I started doing this, and it’s not going to start in 2010. The showcase is ticket only but the films are showing all week and entry is free. As soon as the artists start posting their films to YouTube I’ll link them.

Gravity from Brian Zou on Vimeo.

VFX Showreel 2010 from Daniel Ward on Vimeo.