ReflectiveINK is an exhibition of patterns, exploring the potential of remediation to transform hand drawn illustrations into a new media installation. It brings together a convergence of different formats through an interdisciplinary approach to media production; combining an interactive installation, series of digital prints, hand drawn illustrations and animated light projections into a spatially augmented reality. The simple expression of mark-making becomes enhanced by new media technology to make it flexible to suit a variety of contexts,exploring the interplay between analogue and digital, the hand made and the computer generated.
As I created these illustrations I started to tell stories of memories in my mind as I drew them, and patterns started to emerge, morph and change as the narrations continued to unfold in the images. Rather than being a single design that I repeated and redrew across the page, the patterns became a communication system in which stories became told about personal reflections and processing of experiences. These stories are not intended to be decoded by the viewer but more and exploration on ways that we can share memories with one another. The memories I present do not always exist in the past but are also living memories of experience in the present.
The process of creating these illustrations follows some of the key ideas of outlined by Lev Manovich is his writings on “What is New Media”. Manovich identifies several elements in the creation of a new media work; numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability. The illustrations do not stay in their original hand drawn form but have undergone several alterations as they evolved into a new media art installation. In this way Marshall McLuhan’s statement “the medium is the message” holds relevance to this work. The process of making the patterns is bound by the digital medium that created them and an inseparable part of how we read them.
The illustrations, originally drawn in biro pen on paper, have been converted from their analog form. They become numerically represented by the use of a scanner, changing the compositions into a new media object that allows algorithmic manipulation inside software (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects in this instance). This scanning process was done at a very high resolution, digitizing the image by sampling and quantization – thereby assigning a numeric value to each part that was scanned in the digitization process.
The fragments of pattern become modular objects and assets used inside a kinect installation. They combine to make a larger art object but still retain their separate identities, pulled together by the visual programming software vvvv.
In the process of creating these visual modular assets the illustrations underwent a layer of automation. After scanning them I used the autotrace feature in the adobe software package Illustrator to render the image as vector graphics. They underwent this process to be able to convert them into a format that allows for the opportunity to display the images at infinite scale, small or large, to suit a variety of outcomes. Elements of the drawings are presented large scale across the wall using decals which are generated from the vector graphics.
Having the illustrations in this format that allows reproduction at an infinite scale allows for rapid versioning. Rather than making identical copies in each reproduction I make different versions that are customised to suit a specific space / location / context each time. The drawings themselves become developed into a series of versions – be they prints, projections on a surface, interactive elements in a kinect installation, decals covering a wall and floor. In each display the work will hold essential linking elements but vary and take new shape at each exhibition or space they are shown.
Variability can be further extended in this work to cover notions of open interactivity. A prototype interface of interactivity has been coded in VVVV however every player gets his own specific experience of the projections in the installation as their motion and movement is tracked in realtime. The motion tracking is done via a depth sensor camera (kinect) that sends information which is converted into forces that affect the motion and movement of the images.
The prototypes exist as a core, however different versions are derived in every interaction by a person moving in the space in a unique way. The player / viewer / audience becomes the co-author of the work from this method. The stories that are started in the patterns by me are unfinished until the player weaves their own version of the ending. Memories become a living concept as they weave into stories of the present rather than of the past.
With each piece of media the illustrations transition through they become refashion; commenting on, reproducing, appropriating and replacing each other by the medium they are displayed with.
As Marshall McLuhan said on the topic of remediation: “The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium”