The final

The opening night was a little overwhelming for me. I had to stay in my space talking to people. But it’s very interesting to see their reactions to my work. With the wall painting, some people knew the topic was serious. For others, just looking and interacting with the projections, they enjoyed the “fun”. And for children, they loved to running around in the area with light “tracking” them. Since I couldn’t get the Mac mini to work for the projection, I had to use my laptop during the opening. With the overheating issue, the graphics was running laggy. To my surprise, it didn’t bother people at all. I had the propaganda translated into English. When people were about to leave, they saw the translation which helped them understand the piece more and complete the experience.

I had some very interesting conversations at the opening. There were people wondering what the work was, some people wanted to know how I feel about the freedom was in China and how Chinese people react to it. Most people thought the technology was cool and they enjoyed the work. I thought it was a success, at least everything was working that night.

I was so grateful that my mom’s here with me during the opening. She was the main reason I wanted to make this piece.

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The Process_2

After figuring out the floor projection, the next step is the wall. I made some rough sketches. I wanted to created the wall between space representing the separation between me and my invisible sibling. Standing on one side of the wall, people would see the silhouettes of people on the other side. The wall needs to be semi-transparent. With the propaganda, I wanted the wall to have a brick texture which was gonna be a big challenge for me.

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I’m also working on the code trying to figure out how to use the Kinect to capture silhouettes of people. I could use Kinect to display everything with different color according to their distance from the device. But I needed to separate people from the background. With some more searching and tweaking on the code, I found a library in Processing called SimpleOpenNi which used the Kinect to detect human figure and display their shapes.

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The next phase is to figure out how the graphics shown on the wall, other than the silhouettes. Again, I did some brainstorming, thumbnail sketches and narrow down some ideas. IMG_7277.jpg

Having two projections going at the same time, I figured it would be good if  I could have separate systems. For testing, I was using my desktop to run the floor projection and laptop with the wall projection.

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Finally, it works!

The process_1

I bought 2 books for Processing over the winter break, and started to read. It helped me so much to understand programming, learning the language and reading codes.

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Combining Kinect and Processing I was able to tweaking the examples that came with the program. I was amazed by how much potential they had and how much more I could do with them. As for my project, I was looking at some examples on the internet. There’s one tutorial that I found interesting. Instead of having the geometric shapes, I was going to have the words of One Child Policy to drop from the top. Then I realized that it might be too messy. So I started thinking other options.

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At the same time, I was also looking at artists like Krzysztof Wodiczko and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer as my inspirations. I did some research on their works and decided what I waned to do for the floor projection.

To realize the projeciton, I found Daniel Shiffman’s video tutorial on color tracking as my starting point. With depth image from Kinect, if I could combine them together, I would have the floor projection showing connection and disconnection.

color tracking           KinectOne-Depth.jpg

After tons of tweaking and testing, I finally had something that’s working!

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Projections, Connections

I’m not a programmer, I have to learn about coding for this project and starting from scratch. Luckily, I was able to find some source code. With some struggling and tweaking, I finally had something working!

In this project, there will be 3 parts. Propaganda on the wall in red Chinese Characters, projection on the floor for people to interact and projection on a translucent wall with people silhouette projected on it. The propaganda on the wall, it will be in red paint. I want my audiences to feel the intensity and pressure with the enlarged sentences. I was suggested put translations so people can understand the meaning. Initially I was against the idea, I thought it would lose its authenticity that I was trying to establish. Then I decided to have the translation at the end of each sentence in small chunks so people won’t get distracted. If they get closer to the wall, they will able to read the translation. This will help people to move around within the space and engage with the piece more.

The floor projection was one of the main component of this piece. I was able to get it to work in color mode and have people interact with it, but not to make it black and white. After tons of research, it finally worked the way I wanted to. Black background, with white circles. Each circle representing a person, when people get closer to each other, they become a larger white circle. This is the connection I’m trying to create. People interact with each other in the gallery space, engaging with the projection.

The last part of the project will the translucent wall with projection. It’s going to project people silhouette. With multiple people standing in front of the wall, It will only show one silhouette. This is the separation I’m creating. For me, growing up as a single child, I didn’t have siblings to interact with. It’s always just me. When I heard the story from my mom about the non existing sibling, the feeling of separation and loneliness became more evident.

These 3 parts will complete my project. I hope it delivers the message that I’m trying to say.

One Child

“In 1979, One-Child Policy was introduced in China by the government.”

“At the end of 2015, the Chinese government eliminated the policy.”

“By 2015, there were over 176 million ‘single child’ were born since the beginning of the One-Child Policy.”

 

“I was born in 1985, I was a single child.”

“I thought I grew up as a single child.”

“My mom told me she had an abortion after I was born.”

” ‘You could’ve had a brother or sister.’ “

” ‘But we were too poor, we couldn’t afford it.’ “

” ‘We would lose our jobs, and there would be a huge fine and other punishment on our family.’ “

” ‘It’s against the POLICY! It’s against the LAW!’ “

“I wish I had a brother or sister when I grew up so I wouldn’t feel as lonely.”

 

“Do you have siblings?” “No, I’m a single child.”

“If you had a second chance, would you be happy to have a sibling?” “Having a sibling would be nice, they could share my responsibilities for the family. I might have more chances to do what I like not what my parents want.”

“I don’t want to share the love from my parents with anyone.”

 

These are some information I’m planing to put in my projection. They are facts / thoughts / interviews I found in my research. I’m also consider putting slogans as visual element in the projections. The slogans could be fount almost everywhere in China when I grew up.

“One couple should only have one child.”
“Practicing family planning constitutes China’s fundamental state policy.”

The slogans were usually seen on the wall. I want to create a virtual wall as a separation from the “invisible sibling”, but co-existing in a same space. I would like to have the words dropping from the top of the screen on to the audience silhouette, so that the audience can interact with the projection while reading the sentences. I’m planning to use only 3 colors: black white and red.

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Before it begins…

I’ve been making 3D animations about life experiences and cultural differences since I learned how to use Maya. But there’s part of me always wants make art that are interactive and gets people involved.

I saw Daniel Rozin’s wooden mirror piece years ago. It was so amazing and inspiring. I told myself it would be great if I could make a piece like this.

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

Daniel Rozin, “PomPom Mirror,” 2015 from bitforms gallery on Vimeo.

For my thesis project, I’m going to make an interactive projection using Processing and Kinect or webcam.

I have two ideas. One is to have people take a portrait photo using webcam and have the computer making a digital portrait for them. It could be something like this:

https://www.openprocessing.org/sketch/486307

The other idea is to make something like this:

Puppet Parade – Interactive Kinect Puppets from Design I/O on Vimeo.

 

I’m going to give the piece a deeper meaning from my own experiences. But as for now I’m still struggling with how should I approach the idea and learning coding in Processing is a big challenge for me as well.

Where am I going?

In my proposal, my project was going to have projections on both sides of a protruding wall with different video footages of my experience of being in America and China. I wanted to express my struggle of finding the definition of home. I have lived in America since 2007, but I grew up in China. I’m used to and feeling comfortable living in America, but I’m not from here. When I go back to China, everything seems familiar, but it’s not the place I knew any more. I’ve had the struggle for a long time. I made me start asking myself, where is home, and where am I going?

As I am working on the project,  instead of showing video footages, I’d like to make a short narrative animation to present the idea. The animation is  about a paper plane starting on a desk flying out of a window. It flies through buildings in China, over the sea, and in America. As it flies by these places, it experiences the change of weather, different landscapes. The color of the paper changes, it has wears and tears. Every time when it wants to go one place to another, the wind is blowing against where it’s going. As the plane is constantly struggling in between places. paper plane_1

I had my first critique last week, I received great suggestions and ideas from my colleagues and professor. There was one idea I’m going to try out next involving 2 projections. I want to have the projections on two opposite screens as the viewers can only see one screen at a time. When they are watching one video, they will miss what’s happening on the other. This is like me being in America and missed all changes happening in China or the other way round.

Artboard 1

Prepare for the battle

The idea came from my summer trip to Whitewater rafting. My friend got really bad sun burnt during the trip. I was thinking about the sun burnt and maybe I could make it an animated story.

The story began  with a warrior in a desert. He was thirsty and ran out of water. There was a dragon living in the desert flying by. All the creatures living in the desert were running away. The dragon saw the warrior and the battle began. The warrior used his sword and shield to fight the dragon. The dragon was blowing fire towards him. He blocked the fire with his shield. They fought and fought. The warrior used his all his strength to fight the dragon. Finally when he was blocking the fire with his shield. The shield cracked and broken. Everything became a blur. After a while, when it cleared up, the warrior opened his eyes. It turned out he was only a boy laying on his inflatable dragon in the pool, holding his toy sword and shield. All the fire, the desert, the dragon were just a dream. Only the heat from the sun was real. He got sun burnt. Finally, he got up and walk away in pain.

Story Borad _vertical

 

Making the animation is a long process, now I’m just focusing on completing the test shots. I do have some of the assets modeled.

The inflatable dragon toy:

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Pool chair:

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“sunburnt boy”

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This is the look and style I was going for: