Created: November 28th, 2016
We intend to create a "forest" in the Hunt Library stairwell. We plan to use translucent paper, opaque paper, projectors, shadows, etc. to create an ambient forest that people can walk through on their way in the stairwell. This idea plays off of the original forest set up in the Hunt stairwell and it also incorporates ideas from the paper installation in the studio.
We want to use translucent paper to create the greenery and leaves of trees and bushes (translucent paper in particular because it allows light to travel through and will cast a green hue on the wall). The opaque paper will not allow light to be shown through so we will use this for branches, vines, and other silhouettes. Also, if all goes according to plan, the shadow of the viewer will be cast onto the wall as if they are a part of the scene.
The setup of this installation will be in such a way that the paper scene will be attached on the railing side of the stairs. Then, the projector will shine onto it and cast the scene onto the wall side of the stairs.
Although we originally intended to make a forest in the stairwell of Hunt Library, we have since then explored and brainstormed new ideas. Ultimately, considering the materials we were using, we thought to create a heart hidden somewhere in the library. We want to use paper for the heart and string to suspend it in a web of even more string. We will then project an animation to seem as though the heart is beating and feeding "blood" to the walls/books surrounding it.
The heart will be hidden between two sheets of poster-board or foam material to conceal it. There will be a small hole cut out of one of the sheets so that a dot of light can been seen on another bookshelf. We intend the viewer to be curious and peer through the hole to find our mystical beating heart hidden among the shelves.
We sought to personify the spirit of this university while utilizing the time slot and space allotted in a meaningful way; we created a surreal, pseudo-hidden experience meant to attract the viewers organically in small groups or individually by appealing to their curiosity. We presented the audience with a literal and surreal metaphor, pertaining to their feelings during finals week, in the sense that it's an unexpected time to ask students to consider that their space is working as hard as they are and that Hunt library, and CMU in general, embodies the sentiment: Our hearts are in the work.
4:The work Night Bright by Design I/O is a great example of what our group is trying to incorporate into. The work, as I previously reviewed, has the viewer interact with a projection of a dark forest by having his or her body light up the section they are standing in front of. While we are not using any real user interaction in ours, we are trying to bring the user into the work by casting his or her shadow onto the forest. We want the viewer to feel like they are a part of the work just like what Design I/O has achieved with Night Bright.
5: The work Rain Room by Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass is also an inspiration for our work because the viewer experiences the event of rain while not actually getting wet. They walk through a room that senses the position of the viewer, and turns off the water where they are. While our group is not using real water in our work, we are hoping to simulate rain with shadows of paper so our viewers will experience the event of rain without actually getting wet.
6: The work Sunset Over Manhattan by Tim Noble and Sue Webster is another work that drew inspiration for our project. In this work, Tim and Sue use empty cans with holes in them to project an illusion of a city onto a wall using the cans’ shadows. This work directly fits with our idea of how we are going to project a forest onto a wall. We are going to use some object that makes shadows that appear to be shadows of trees, just like Sunset Over Manhattan’s attempt of making a shadow of Manhattan.
And yet 3 more inspirations:1
1.James Turrell's Projection Pieces (2015)
2. Chiharu Shiota's string sculptures and installations (2016)
3.Anna Kostreva's experimental Dance Party space (2012)
Originally, we intended to create a forest in the Hunt library to build off of the first forest project in Module 3. However, much has evolved from that idea. With our prototype of the screen we planned on using for the forest, we began testing the projection of different scenes to catch an idea of the effect we could create. Once the string was added to our little prototype, we found that moving lined patterns created a really interesting effect on the string, making it seem as though little dots of light were moving in mid air. From there, something happened very quickly amongst our excited chatter and we cam upon the idea of the heart. It seemed morbid and creepy, but despite that it was a great idea that was also feasible (we assumed from our prototype).
Once we settled upon the heart idea, we began building it in one of the bookshelves on the second floor. But, the projection was not anywhere near as brilliant as it was in our prototype and it seemed all too small for the heart of Hunt library. We ultimately enlarged our prototype and made a big, dark box to experience the heart.
We created a living, beating heart within Hunt library. We used paper for the heart, string to suspend the heart and create all the veins webbing to the shelves, and garbage bags to darken our work space. First, the animation was chosen because it offered enough space between iterations for it to seem like the blood was traveling outward. Once we had the animation, we needed to give it some audio. To create the perpetual heartbeat, we used Audacity to slow down the heartbeat to the same BPM as the circles the moment they appeared in the center. We used iMovie to merge the two together into one video that could be looped so that we didn't have to physically restart the video each time.
As for the construction of this piece, problem-solving was a must. Initially, garbage bags were not in the plan for our piece, however the space we chose was too brightly lit from the natural light. Also, the garbage bags further emphasized the idea that we could persevere regardless of the dingy materials we had. Plenty of tape and string was needed, as well as a careful and cautious hand so as not to tear down any of the delicately positioned string. One challenge we faced (which was not anticipated earlier) was that the projector could not be pointed straight at the heart at the same level which the viewer would look at our work. Yet, any major stray from the direct path destroyed the circle projections we wanted. We arrived at a solution by using a mounting clam to lift the projector a foot or so higher than the viewer, only angled slightly downward onto the heart. The finishing touch was to hide our laptop and speaker (which played the rhythmic heartbeat) and to create a paper trail of old notes leading to the heart.
The initial idea of the hunt forest was brought up by Joanna, who then invited Brandon and Jonathan to collaborate on this idea, since it seemed especially difficult for one person to accomplish the desired effect. Once we all had a prototype, Jonathan introduced the string into the cardboard box "projection" space. This string was supposed to be like vines from the ceiling of the forest, however it was this that led to the idea of the heart (although I'm not quite sure who is due credit for it since we all were very excited and hyped over the idea and all our input was blended into the one idea). Once the heart was up in the bookshelves for its first test run, Brandon discovered that the projection was not possible given such a small work space and suggested we expand and suspend the heart in an aisle of the library. Overall, this project was very much a collaboration between the three of us and we all contributed a good deal of thought and effort into it.
Our project was a play on the most common phrase on campus: "My heart is in the work."
This is why we incorporated materials from the library to create our piece. We also scattered discarded notes all around the floor, making a path to the hidden heart. These notes are the symbol of students' work and they ultimately lead to the heart. This is very appropriate given the university we are a part of and the fact that we have set this piece up in the library. We played on the audience's curiosity and desire for knowledge (which is the purpose of providing a library and to offer that knowledge).
If we were to do this project yet another more time, we would have made a bigger heart and perhaps made it easier for people to determine how to approach our piece. Many people tended to seem nervous or confused about how to interact with and view our project. We attempted to let them discover the piece on their own, however most of them would recognize us as the creators and ask how to experience it. This was a surprise to us. Another change we might make would be to allow the user to come closer to the heart and have an impact on the performance of it. For example, the user could potentially change the rhythm of the beating and the flow of "blood" down the string veins.
I think your idea is great and your sketch is clear. I would like to see how you incorporate this beautiful forest scene into the hunt library. I think you probably want to explore on the meaning and implementation of your project. Is it built to provide the students with a soothing environment? Where is the best site for the installation? Also, you may also consider using sounds like bird singing in your project.