Experiment 3: PRISM

Finally we have a studio near to Goldsmiths and an opportunity to exhibit as part of the Nowhere exhibition in mid September 2012.

The space is long and thin; blackout box about 600mm x 120mm but fairly high and the viewer enters in the middle affording us an opportunity to immerse the viewer in the Diasynchronoscope.

This was our opportunity to do our first experiment using depth with objects coming from the back of the corridor and jumping towards the viewer. We started to mock-up a bounce animation in 3DSMax.

There is room for two projectors at ceiling height so this should be possible. We can build a mock-up of the two halves in the studio side-by-side as if the space is folded in half across the middle. We start with some discussion of wheels (following the Gestalt Circle) and optical illusions involving wheels – would they translate to the Diasynchronoscope? Would adding 3D add to the illusion? We started to look at fade-off along a series of overlapping cones to recreate the spinning wheel illusion seen here:

(illusion graphic to be added)

In the end we abandoned this concept feeling that it was interesting but that it was not appropiate to the space. Also we were keen to get objects close to the viewer and try and work on the occlusion problems we were having. We decided to use cones and triangles as Platonic elements and to exploit having two sides to the artwork with the viewer acting as a prism.

The idea being that as the artwork travelled through the viewer there would be a transformation. We had been looking at Goethes interpretations of colour through a prism and how his ideas differed from Newtons and felt it might be a good time to explore colour in the Diasynchronoscope.




In the final event we built an art object with triangles moving in equally spaced straight lines (as laser particles) on one side - and the more 3 dimensional cones bouncing in an organic manner (ie with arcs and squash and stretch) on the other side.





We intended that this side would also include colour. A major change occurred in transition to the exhibition space when we decided to start with the triangles and then travel to the organic – rather than our first thoughts which were to do the reverse. This reconceptualisation changed the artworks message to being more positive but also was a practical help in creating the movement.



Once more we needed a blackout space with every object being painted black – quite a laborious process…







Holistically the whole artwork resembled a Victorian gothic Heath Robinson contraption but of course no one would ever see this version when the artwork was shown. The two wheels of cones were added so that we could create a narrative – starting with one wheel to be lit mechanically and the second to be lit to blossom like a flower with radiating colour.

We used a wheel as a promotional still for the artwork:

(One of our challenges with the diasynchronic technique is how we can convey its magic using stills because the artwork is so dependent on somatic experience in time.)




In practical terms we had started to use foam tubing and hosepipe to support the objects for lighting. The objects can then be attached using wooden skewers. This speeded up our ability to position things correctly but we had to use other techniques for objects hung close to the viewer as the solid props would cause further occlusion difficulties.


Even here in our studio space that was blacked-out we were finding a lot of ambient light spill occurring from the projector and we had to hang a velvet drape on the back wall to absorb some of this spill. The black velvet works very well for this and we found it necessary again in the final artwork.

Despite building a mock-up of the artwork near to the site in our studio there were a number of practical problems at installation (although we had 3 days). The two main problems were positioning and aligning the two projectors and creating a sufficiently dark arena for the artwork. The light spill from two projectors in an enclosed space with walls that were not as matt as they might be led to unlit objects having an undesirable level of visibility. We should perhaps investigate using gobos to minimise this effect. A third challenge was the discovery of how important integrating the animation trope of squash and stretch was to creating organic and mimicking continuous movement. Without using it on the bounces there was a tendency for the the objects to be viewed as a series of separate images rather than as movement particularly when the objects were near but careful sculptural additions on the bounces really changed the whole way of viewing to being consistent with that of a moving object.

In the final event these problems left us with very little time for sound or timing or exploration of colour. The sound was supplied through two speakers so was positioned either side of the viewer but we both felt that there was much more room for integrating sound positioning with the visuals. Because we were projecting onto black objects the colour was also less saturated than we might have hoped for. It is doubtful that we could change this without either lighting the objects internally or using phosphorescent paints.

The final artwork ran on a two minute loop.

(video to be inserted here soon)

Feedback from viewers was varied. Some loved the sound (even though it was rather rushed) some the colour most enjoyed the experience although young children found the dark space disturbing and some felt the piece lacked poetry. The general feedback was very positive and of the Wow thats cool variety. Although as it was a small exhibition the artwork was only viewed by about 200 people.

In reflection we felt we had learned much about the technique (and its current limitations) and found things we wanted to explore more. In particular we are very interested in another animation trope: creating a sound track then animating to it. There is a long history of this in animation and as we are both adept with sound it makes sense to explore this more. It would certainly help any artwork feel more complete. We felt that we were beginning to find boundaries to the technique as it stands and found ourselves wanting to look at other ways of handling the visuals to make the blackout either redundant or work better. To make good art using the medium we need to be in command of it.