Summer 2018: Animation Project

My aim for the summer break was to create work that challenged my technical skill and engaged my perception of artistic style and media. This post is all about an animation concept I have created, and the ideas of nature and technology that inspired it. Upon completion, I intend this piece to be a 3-dimensional, immersive animation experience. Using a portable projector and a rotating display stand, I will create the effect of three twinkling, blue points of light moving around a darkened room.

How does this relate to my previous work?

I have used projections before with cast-iron, however for that artwork the projection was static. This piece will go a step further by allowing me to add motion to the projector, using a rotating display stand. The piece is inspired in part by the art movements of surrealism and abstract expressionism, and as a result it explores the more unconscious side of the artistic process. As opposed to communicating a clear, overt idea, the movements of the light and the overall aesthetic are inspired very much by…

Nature

Nature is the central idea in this piece – I came up with the beginnings of the idea at a nature reserve, when I was watching swallows flying. They are such adept fliers, and the way they swoop so fast and low is oddly mesmerising to watch. I wanted to try and explore in detail the feeling of awe I got when watching the birds, and the dynamism of their flight. To help me decide how best to re-create the effect, I sought some existing artwork for inspiration.

Artist Inspiration

One of the key inspirations for this project was Studio Drift. What I really appreciate about their work is how they create work that conveys a sense of nature without trying to represent it directly. The feeling of awe I experienced when watching the drifter was akin to the awe I get when watching birds, so Studio Drift were a very important source of inspiration to this project.

Creative Process

I wanted to convey the feeling of watching swallows rather than the swallows themselves; that was crucial to me. I considered how the studio space would affect my work, and initially wrestled with trying to create the impression of birds flying through it – not making much progress, this is where artist inspiration came in. Studio Drift’s work enabled me to look past the need for realistic detail, because although their work is inspired by nature, it does not necessarily look like it at all. This enabled me to focus on the bare elements of swallow flight – the swooping, dynamic motion.

Motion

Motion is a very interesting subject to explore, however with limited access to technology and materials, it is a difficult thing to incorporate into an artwork. I decided to research how modern kinetic art works and immediately found footage of a kinetic sculpture called “Liquid Shard” by Poetic Kinetics.

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“Liquid Shard” is an enormous installation made of millions of shiny, silver ribbons bound together on an enormous net. Powered by wind, it sails and streams through the sky like a silvery snake – like Studio Drift, it manages to evoke the sense of awe we have when experiencing nature without attempting to copy nature. The simplicity of how the piece achieves its kinetic effect is hugely inspiring, however it seems to work only because of its enormous size, which is greater than our art studio allows.

Animation

I began to consider animation as a way to create motion. I had the idea to project points of light into a darkened room, and animate them in a similar way to the movements of swallows. This would be a simple way to create dynamism in an art piece and create a ghostly, futuristic feel – as the points of light would be intangible projections rather than objects.

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The above picture depicts the animation process. It involved drawing out a path for each separate point of light – this became very complex!

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The above screenshot shows how I created the points of light. Using several shapes with glow effects all grouped together, I created what looks like a star.

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This shows what the animation paths all looked like. The paths all swoop and climb around, much like the flight of a group of swallows.

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