Umbrella Monster

May 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

We had our class performance debut this weekend as part of the CATDIG Festival – – held on Catherine St. in Limerick.

We had two fifteen minute street performances – One on Saturday at four and one today at two.

The main idea was to have little umbrella domes that would merge into one big umbrella monster split apart and then come together again. We added a Mexican umbrella wave and a moment where we were completely still to see the audiences reaction. The finale saw us running frantically together forming a giant dome roaring and shouting to a frantic and crazy beat from our drummers.

The Music Tech. Guys provided the beat using water bottles and drumsticks. Lette led the pack with her big conga drum or is it called a djembe…. not sure which one it is!?? The sound was fantastic even though we had to battle a band on Saturday that was playing down the road in Bourke’s pub.

We had been trying to choreograph our performance for the past few weeks but things only seemed to come together this week with everybody’s hard work and great ideas. We came up with the idea of the masks to add a dramatic effect to the piece.

Saturday saw lots of people on the street with a great buzz around the place. This really helped us with our performance and the energy we put into it. Of course the beautiful weather also helped to lift our spirits! We were very lucky. The umbrellas proved very ironic under the circumstances!
Today was quieter and had a more relaxed atmosphere. The timing was a lot better and I think we really perfected the performance. The spectators gave us a big round of applause even though they had some confused and puzzled expressions! A nearby dog particularly liked the drumming and barked along to the whole thing. It was quite funny!
I really enjoyed the two performances because they were something I had never done before. I am by no means a dancer or performer but I found myself getting into the showmanship of it and feeding off the kinetic energy that was built up.

Here are some individual poses from our ninjas!!


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Projection Show – Plassey House 14th April

April 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

On the 14th April at Plassey House in UL our masters class, along with music technology, held a fifteen-minute projection show. Over 150 people attended the show including the president of the university. The whole night was a great success and the feedback we received was incredible and unexpected!
Each group choose a particular element from:

· Earth
· Wind
· Fire
· Water
· Spirit

We choose to project fire. The first step was deciding what type of story we wanted to tell with our projection. We sketched out a storyboard to illustrate our story step by step.

The following were the steps involoved……
1. A phoenix would fly across the screen.
2. Lightning would appear from the phoenix setting each part of the building on fire.
3. The flames would get bigger and bigger.
4. Rooms would then start appearing from within the flames.
5. The bathroom would appear first revealing someone running from the bathroom in a towel with the corridor on fire. Then fade out.
6. The kitchen would appear next with somebody trying to put out a chip-pan fire. Then fade out.
7. Sitting room would appear next showing a girl on the couch with the room on fire around her and she is completely unaware of it. Then fade out.
8. Fire blazes for a few seconds.
9. Phoenix rises from the left and lightning appears and enlarges the flames.
10. The last lightning bolt extinguishes the fire.
11. The last scene is the phoenix flying off to the right.

Special thanks to the actors in the videos, namely Lette and my mum!

The soundtrack then needed to be added. Here’s where the Music Technology Masters students applied their expertise to make the show come alive. One general soundtrack was created for the entire show and then each group would edit this to suit their projection. Sound effects were added at certain points to add an extra dimension to each element.

There were some unexpected technical difficulties but only at the very end. Most of the show had been displayed already so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment.

The people that attended seemed to really enjoy it and get pleasure from something we had worked so laboriously on. I had never done anything like this before so it gave me a real sense of pride and achievement I loved seeing the fruits of our labour on such a big stage and in front of such a big crowd. There is discussion of maybe showing it again for some events such as the Special Olympics held on campus in June. It would be wonderful to be able to have another show and it would give us the opportunity to perfect our videos and make the show even more enjoyable.

More vid links….
More will follow shortly!

Next up is the umbrella monster….coming soon!

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Art Installation 26/03/10

March 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm (Contemporary Art in the Public Realm)

Yesterday we had our art installation in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in UL. There were five groups from our interactive media class with each group using archive material and presenting it in an interesting and interactive way.
We choose to build musical chairs to add a fun element to our work.

The idea was that when somebody sat on one chair, the audio would be activated and the video would be projected in front of the chairs. Then if another person sat on the chairs more video and audio would join and so forth for the other two chairs. We wanted people to feel like they had control of what they were seeing and let them create their own vision. The nature of the video we created was very hypnotic and immersive and we felt had the ability to draw people in and really experience the archive material in a new way.

Technical Stuff….
To start we choose material both audio and video from the archives. We then manipulated the videos in Logic Pro to give them a kaleidoscopic feel. Here are a few examples….

We choose a flute, piano, harp and some vocals for our audio and blended them to interact with the video. The software used to do this was Max Msp. The next step was to build the Arduino, which would communicate between our chairs and the computer. Here’s Brian trying to attach the wires for the Arduino…

We had four chairs so four input/outputs on the Arduino. Each of the four wires on the Arduino went to each chair. We concealed cabling with duck tape and decorated it with piano keys.

Each chair had a concealed micro switch, which activated when pressure was applied. We used a spring loaded hole punch to ensure that the switch would activate but not be damaged when somebody sat on a chair.

These switches and hole punches were concealed using padding and decorated upholstery. The legs of the chairs were decorated with stencilled musical notes, white on black. We choose to place a UV light in front of the chairs to make the notes and piano keys standout.

The video was displayed using two projectors mounted on the wall behind. The use of two projectors really gave an extra dimension to our display as it spanned nearly the entire wall.

Some Thoughts….
The feedback we received from people was really positive. Children in particular loved the seats and kept bouncing from one to the other. They seemed enthralled by the video and kept trying to touch it.
Micheal O’Suilleabhain came to visit our exhibition and was very impressed by our installations. He enjoyed our audio so much he even started singing along with it, which we managed to capture on video! Link coming soon…
He suggested getting a piper to play along with our tracks or a contemporary dancer to add something extra to the experience. It was fantastic to see somebody of his calibre enjoying and getting involved with something we had created.
Overall we felt people really took delight in the whole experience with some people returning a few times to experience our installation again and again. This was great reinforcement that we had created something interactive, fun and interesting for people to see. The only downside was we could only keep it there for one day and taking down after that short time was kind of a let down. There is some consolation in the fact that we will get to display it again in a few months at the buildings official opening, so that’s something to look forward to…J

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