This week I’ve been experimenting with different materials, spacial formations, and projection experiments for my thesis. Below you will find some layout sketches showing the placement of pedestals, leap motion sensors, and sculptural projection surface at the center of the room. The notes on the right are from “Cabinets of Curiosity: What they were, why they disappeared, and why they’re so popular now” a Medium article written by Steven Lubar in 2018. I was particularly fascinated with the description of classification systems for wunderkammers (or rather lack their of). Although the history is limited, it seems as though the arrangement of objects depended on the prerogative of the wunderkammer’s curator. A happy and reassuring finding as I struggle with defining a classification system for my objects.
Sketches & NOTES
Materiality & Production design
This week I was fortunate enough to visit the Oakland Museum Women Board’s White Elephant Sale! Upon entering I encountered a magical-looking shell chandelier that would serve as a great prototype for projection. I also found a bunch of shells, bowls, glass, and wire that I’ll be using for my wunderkammer sculpture.
I also managed to squeeze in some crystallization experiments with some of the shells I collected on my last trip to Florida.
Below are photos of the prototype that I presented at my latest critique, which integrated the work I showed at our fall open studios and my previous critique. I’m embarrassed to say the mounting the projectors to do floor projection took longer than I expected (because they were so heavy and I needed to recruit M to lift them), but it was great to finally add some instructions and my great-grandfather’s poetry. I need to spend some more time cleaning up the projection, and reimagining the media and interaction design.
Below are a draft of the instructions I placed on each of the pedestals (disregard spelling mistakes and missing accents):
CONECTA CON AQUELLOS ENFRENTE DE TI // CONNECT WITH OTHERS ACROSS FROM YOU.
ESCRIBELE UNA CARTA AL FUTURO Y DOBLALO // WRITE A LOVE LETTER TO THE FUTURE & FOLD IT UNIQUELY.
REFLEJA EN LO QUE HAN ESCRITO // REFLECT ON WHAT’S BEEN WRITTEN BY OTHERS.
SUMERGE TU CARTA EN EL AGUA.// SUBMERGE YOUR LETTER IN THE WATER.
Initially in installation played sounds from a rainforest, “recorded in the Henry Pittier National Park located central coast of Venezuela” by the freesound artist missteik. Then the sounds transitioned to something more lively when the participants unlocked the second portion of the installation (where there was warm light and colorful images). It’s a song sung by Reymar Perdomo while navigating the Venezuelan diaspora in Peru.
I plan on getting rid of the paper prototype going forward. I want to transition toward a hanging sculptural wunderkammer. I need to raise the sculpture so that it does not block the vision between participants who are at the pedestals with the sensors.
Folks were engaged with the floor projection, but the instructions were not effective for everyone. Some read them, while others spent time walking around to read the poetry. They acknowledged that Spanish was the primary language of the installation.
LIGHTING & SOUND
The changes from cool to warm, quiet to lively where intense and visceral. I plan on making this more gradual than sharp. The focus on the center helped support a shared and communal experience. However, folks did not know whether or not they could walk on the projection.
There was some conversation about the tension between the private and social, the personal and the communal, and the prompt given to the participants: write a love letter to the future. I need to spend more time considering this prompt, and what I want it to mean about Venezuela. During the critique, I acknowledged that this installation and my thesis as a whole is a love letter to the Venezuelan diaspora, to it’s past and future.
There was also a fair amount of conversation about whether or not it was necessary to submerge objects in the water to be crystallized. This was because folks did not know what to do with their love letter once they were done with it. This could be changed my moving the pedestals closer OR I could have participants add their love letters to the sculpture without being crystallized ala Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree series.
A much more communal experience due largely to Reymar’s song. Folks thought that there was a lot of “care & attention" to detail” to the organization of the objects, projection, etc. There was however a mystical and magical quality associated with the texts and objects in the space. This caused a mix of confusion and awe.
Working System Diagram
Below is a system diagram I drafted for my installation, though I think I will be downsizing the number of speakers and leap motion sensors from 4 to 2 each. In the prototype that I demoed I was missing the video distributer, so I only routed 4 projectors from my server and MacBook. I honestly feel relieved that I won’t have this much tech.
I’ll have an updated system diagram soon…