Archive for category Drawing Machines
In the past few weeks, I have taken a whirlwind tour through the worlds of 3D scanning & position/orientation sensing. The product of this study is still a work in progress.
Here is my project concept statement:
If Photorealism is only one of many possible styles of painting, then the “realism” of our natural vision must similarly be one of many possible modes of realism. There is no reason to suspect that our natural vision presents the world as it really is. We are abstractly aware of this and yet are limited in our ability to experience other modes. It is the goal of this project to enable the user to experience a physical environment in a visual style which differs from his or her natural mode of vision. This is achieved through the use of a 3D scanner, which images a physical space and provides a software system with a cloud of three-dimensional coordinates. The software uses geometric analysis to interpret these points into an alternate view of the space – a view which may be described as a blocky, Lego-like version of the physical environment. This alternate view is then sent to the user’s head-mounted display. A 3D positioning and orientation sensor is used to locate the user within the depicted space. This system is intended for use in an interactive cinema experience, entitled “Parallax Digitalis,” which will use prerecorded and interactive sequences to convey the story of a young man entrapped by the false notion that he is a deity. The current implementation of this project serves as a proof-of-concept for my longtime theoretical exploration of the possible uses of descriptive geometry in the telling of cinematic narratives.
Here are the results so far:
And the steps taken to reach these results… (continue on next page)
“A pantograph is a mechanical linkage connected in a special manner based on parallelograms so that the movement of one specified point is an amplified version of the movement of another point. If a line drawing is traced by the first point, an enlarged (or miniaturized) copy will be drawn by a pen fixed to the other.” – from Wikipedia
I built a physical pantograph out of cardboard and an accompanying software emulator of the device. By using an angle sensor (or potentiometer) at any of the four joints of the parallelogram, it is possible to use the physical pantograph to control the software version. In its current implementation, the software version is controlled by mouse.
Here is a screenshot of the Pantograph Software Emulator. The green line has been drawn by the stylus (mouse) point and the red line has been drawn by the pen point. This pantograph does 2X enlarging:
Here is a drawing made with my physical pantograph:
Here is a drawing made with the software emulator:
Making a gestural drawing is about implying a form. This takes a kind of resolve – a willingness to let yourself be misunderstood, to come across as simple-minded or incapable of a greater degree of articulation. But to imply something rather than to state it explicitly has a power of its own, which should not be overlooked. This power is clear in the political realm – take Lee Atwater’s polling methods, for example. A partisan “pollster” would ask an undecided voter for his or her opinion of a candidate. After their response, the pollster would say something like, “Would you still see that candidate favorably if you learned he was a child molester?” In this usage, the lack of explicitness is precisely the mechanism by which the statement’s purpose is achieved. It leaves something to the imagination. If the implication is well-crafted, its effect will not be random, but will tend to point the perceiver in a particular direction. In art, the use of implication serves a loftier purpose. It guides the imagination to a set of possible forms or meanings, a mindset or feel, without demanding a fixed interpretation or static notion. In this respect, the implication or gestural drawing is – to my way of seeing the world – quite truthful to the nature of phenomena. That is, even if we believe that an object holds a fixed nature within itself, we may never experience it as such. An object must always experienced in a particular circumstance of observation – from a certain angle, etc. So the relationship between the component manifestations of an object to the object itself is at best additive. But since the complete picture would be an infinite sum, no particular manifestation is resolutely indicative of the whole. In this sense, all representation must be a form of implication – an illusion to the universal through a selection of the particular. There is a distinct pleasure in viewing a gestural drawing that the most finely-polished painting cannot entirely evoke. Having the gaps filled for you can be quite disappointing. In a narrative such as The Da Vinci Code, the promise of a mind-blowing conspiracy is far more interesting than the conspiracy itself. Before the answer is revealed, the viewer imagines a great revelation that is too great to really imagine. Perhaps the goal of drawing should be to leave the viewer in that suspended state before the final revelation can cause its inevitable disappointment. With this in mind, I present my digital piece for this week…
Drawing Gesture Decomposition software:
The artist should select a drawing duration (in seconds) and playback interval (in frames) before running the sketch. The artist must draw continuously for the entire duration. After the drawing period, the playback loop will begin. In the first iteration of the loop, the ends of each successive line segment will be formed by recorded positions that are one playback interval apart. In each iteration of the playback loop, the interval is decremented by one. In the final iteration, the playback will exactly reproduce the original drawing. As the playback interval decreases, the drawing gains definition and (in the case of the sample drawing provided above) looks increasingly like a wine glass.
The Draw String: In an earlier version of this text, I had planned to discuss the notion of how the drawing utensil shapes the representation. I went in a different direction, but below I’ve decided to include my drawings for that project anyway.
In the construction of a drawing, a line may be thought of as a record of both spatial and temporal contour. The spatial contour is ultimately that of the approximated object. But having been formed linearly – that is, by a process commencing with the pencil’s first contact and concluding with its final separation – the spatial contour emerges as a temporally flattened record of whatever path was taken in this duration. In the consideration of a photograph, the temporal contour of the image’s formation is almost entirely self-evident. We know that the lines and shaded areas in a photograph were formed simultaneously, or nearly so over a duration of about a second. So much as it is relevant for short distances, we may say that the rays cast from distant objects reached the photographic emulsion some time after the rays directed by nearer objects. In photography, there is a clear record of drawing order. But this is not the case for drawing. It may easily be that some portion of a distant star was rendered before the artist turned his or her attention to a nearby tree and then back to that distant star. While the temporal contour of a drawing is not fixed to the property of distance between point and observer, it is evident from the work of da Vinci, Matisse, de Kooning and so forth that despite its eventual flattening, the temporal contour of a drawing as it is viscerally evident in an image is very much a part of the work’s expressive properties. More boldly, it is precisely that flattening – the drawing’s eventual static quality – which makes potent the temporal contour of its formation. In the work of de Kooning, the final drawing stands as a record of what seems to be an ecstatic fury of creation. For da Vinci’s perspective sketches, there is, in one sense, a temporal record of something much like a lengthened version of the photographic process. Yet, in these sketches, unlike the photograph, there is also a temporal record of the mental activity that went into the structuring of such a precise image. Since a static image seems to suggest – but does not necessarily make explicit – the process of its creation, let us consider an image’s inception as a sort of Big Bang event. Before this event, there was nothing – the blank page serves as a void, which lacks any spatial or temporal dimension. Dimensionality is applied in the act of creation. As with astrophysics, there are a variety of forensic procedures that allow us to glimpse into the moment of an artwork’s inception. But the forensic measures of an art authenticator do not fully address that visceral sense in which the temporal contour of an image’s inception determines the spatial nature of the final image. Below I have included the source code for and a sample image from a program that marks the temporality of a line’s creation. A line’s width increases as it is drawn and the line’s color alternates at regular temporal intervals so we may see the pace at which a particular segment of the line was drawn. This software offers one manner of showing the temporal contour of the work’s creation. But, there is an unfortunate trade-off for this property: the spatial contour of the image is dominated by the temporal premise. Does this negate the image? Perhaps the faint trace, the visceral sense of time in a static image is more powerful than ham-fisted self-documentation. How can we be mindful to leave a breadcrumb trail without becoming a baker?