Monday, August 17, 2009

It's done

Here it is!

Now I am just doing a final revision of my paper. Should be done tomorrow. Then resource compilation and disk burning (and testing) to go!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quick update

I just had to share-- a weird error I kept getting with the vimeo player in my Flash site used to not ruin things, it was just annoying. But then it decided it would make one video not close if you clicked it, or any other video, again.

So it was preventing one of the videos from loading at all and then would end up crashing the others. But, today I worked around it, and in the meantime ended up fixing the error problem as well!!! No more annoying, questionable errors!

No one (or very very few people) gets that this is WICKED exciting! So I thought I'd tell everyone. ;o)

The website will be up in either tonight or in a few days, just trying to figure out how to get PDF downloads going (for the full-text dissertation and resources).

Now if we could just get the whole not-knowing-if-my-fiance-will-be-allowed-to-enter-the-country-for-our-wedding thing settled. ROAR.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Interim Presentation

Here were are. 3 weeks to go.

This is the website thus far.

Also did my rough draft. It's pretty rough.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've been writing.

I did eventually get multiple tags to work, so we're in the clear on that, hopefully. One thing I notice on it though, is they look shakier in this one. I'll post everything later so you can see it and try it out. I managed to embed the AR .swf in my website, and it's pretty cool.

Here is my to do list. Currently I'm trying to get done all I can before presentations on Thursday, hopefully will have something that resembles a rough draft of the written portion by then.

- finish writing
- complete hi-poly animations
- figure out embed streaming video in flash (as in, from youtube). I found how to do it on vimeo, but all my videos are on youtube, so I'd rather do it that way.
- make mobile
- make Obama

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

var blue skies = new clown

I have good news and bad news. Actually, there isn't really any bad news other than it took me too long to come to this discovery.


We have animation in a papervision file!!!!! Check it out!


I have to re-do all of the models I posted weeks ago because md2 files (forget those damn colladas!) need to be low-poly.


It forces me to learn low-poly modelling!


Really Papervision, you didn't think it would be courteous to warn that my models were too hi-poly and therein lied the problem. Really. And it didn't occur to you, Blender, that you shouldn't have an animation option on your Collada exporter when in actuality, it does nothing of the sort. Really. And Autdoesk FBX Converter UI, you thought it would be "fun" to string me along, converting all these exports with no errors when all this time you've been in cahoots with Blender and Papervision, ruining the entire fun of my summer by making me lose sleep at night, tune-out my fiance, and neglect the floor which hadn't been vaccuumed in almost 2 weeks?! I mean REALLY, there were crumbs everywhere.

We have animation in a papervision file!!!!! Check it out!
I was able to create the above animation in a single morning.


I can't think of anymore!

I can still save the models and animations I did as examples of half-decent models.
It works!!!!!
And did I mention we have animation in a papervision file?!?!?!?! Did you check it out yet?

mmmm successs....

Friday, July 3, 2009


Here is what I've done this week (aside from trying to figure out the collada shiz).

It's a work in progress, but there's the general idea.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Clowning Colladas!

The title of this post is WAY more fun than the post itself.

Basically, after a wasted day yesterday of about a million random ways of exporting failed clown collada files, I decided to get organized and log the results. Here's what I have so far, in between forum post reading and such.

Here is a log of what I've tried so far, mainly for my own use, but I figured I'd put it on here just so I remember where in time I went through this craptastic series of events.

- exported from blender as collada 1.4 with following settings:
only export selection (clown.001 (mesh) and clown (lattice))
sample animation
disable physics
use relative paths
use uv image mats
- STILL image works in pv3d with the following 'output':
INFO: Papervision3D Public Beta 2.0 - Great White (December 3rd, 2008)

INFO: DisplayObject3D: clown_001
INFO: BitmapFileMaterial: Loading bitmap from 3d/littleclown_uv.jpg
INFO: DisplayObject3D: clown

-exported from blender as FBX with following settings:
selected objects (clown.001 (mesh) and clown (lattice))
scale 10
empty, camera, lamp, armature, mesh, modifiers
enable animation, optimize keyframes, all actions
- converted in Autodesk FBX Converter. Fbx to DAE
- does not work in pv3d. gives the following output instead:

INFO: Papervision3D Public Beta 2.0 - Great White (December 3rd, 2008)

INFO: DisplayObject3D: blend_root
INFO: DisplayObject3D: clown_001
TypeError: Error #1009: Cannot access a property or method of a null object reference.
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/buildObject()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseGeometry()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseNode()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseNode()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseScene()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/buildCollada()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/onComplete()

- exported from blender same as CLOWN01 but selected "bake matriices" as well.
- loads weird in pv3d- pink outlines, still image floating. gives output:
INFO: Papervision3D Public Beta 2.0 - Great White (December 3rd, 2008)

INFO: DisplayObject3D: clown_001
INFO: BitmapFileMaterial: Loading bitmap from 3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg
INFO: DisplayObject3D: clown
*** Security Sandbox Violation ***
Connection to file:///Macintosh%20HD/Users/leanne/Desktop/pv3d/3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg halted - not permitted from file:///Macintosh%20HD/Users/leanne/Desktop/pv3d/pv3d.swf
ERROR: BitmapFileMaterial: Unable to load file 3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg
ERROR: Collada failed to load material

_NOTICED: lattice had unlinked from clown in clown03-- trying again with them linked this time.

Viewed video on Vertex Cache/ "baking" animation to mesh:

- Used above video to bake animation onto mesh (as a matter of speaking).
-exported as DAE 1.4 with
only export selection (clownex)
bake matrices
sample animation
disable physics
use relative paths
use uv image mats
- exported as a pink, tiny clown... couldn't tell if it was animated or not because it was too small. here is the flash output:
INFO: Papervision3D Public Beta 2.0 - Great White (December 3rd, 2008)

INFO: DisplayObject3D: clownex
INFO: BitmapFileMaterial: Loading bitmap from 3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg
*** Security Sandbox Violation ***
Connection to file:///Macintosh%20HD/Users/leanne/Desktop/pv3d/3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg halted - not permitted from file:///Macintosh%20HD/Users/leanne/Desktop/pv3d/pv3d.swf
ERROR: BitmapFileMaterial: Unable to load file 3d/../littleclown_uv.jpg
ERROR: Collada failed to load material

-noticed that baking matrices results in a pink clown that is unable to use the UV image. attempted DAE 1.4 with same as above but turned bake matrices off.
-also resized the clown in blender.
-didn't make much of a difference. still pink outlines... i think i needed to "texture face" and turn that on.

-back to attempt fbx conversion.
-converted quads to triangles
- settings: selected objects, mesh and modifiers selected, enable animation, all actions.

Same freaking problem as before:
INFO: Papervision3D Public Beta 2.0 - Great White (December 3rd, 2008)

INFO: DisplayObject3D: blend_root
INFO: DisplayObject3D: clownex
TypeError: Error #1009: Cannot access a property or method of a null object reference.
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/buildObject()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseGeometry()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseNode()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseNode()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/parseScene()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/buildCollada()
at org.papervision3d.objects.parsers::Collada/onComplete()

made a new scene, deleted everything but the clown.
-exported current animation, same exact error output as clown07.

So what now? I also attempted exporting a series of obj files to import into Maya, but it crashed the computer... I think it made 160 OBJs, 1 per frame. That wouldn't have really worked I don't think...

I need to vent a little: This is day 3 of the same old problem. I am pretty stuck, and starting to get worried. It was my plan to have all of this completed by July 8, and at this rate... it is really not looking as if that will happen. I really don't want to give up on this, because there HAS to be a way to get an animation out of blender and into Papervision, but there is too much information on the internet that skirts the issue of what I need. Or if I read something I don't think will be helpful at all, and then realize it might be, it takes forever to find it again. Furthermore, if so many people on the internet are having this problem, why aren't developers working on it? And if they solved it, nice of them to tell anyone about it. I really want to do another search on this, but I can't stomach reading all the other posts I've read a hundred times over again.

Well venting's really not doing me a lot of good at the moment and I am a little angry to be writing an academic paper. I guess it's onto the fun part. I need a fun, rewarding task for the time being... Interface design?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blender Fail.

To catch y'all up: Currently working on exporting animation from Blender in the format (.dae) that Papervision3D (the flash file that scripts the AR) supports. Here is a video of what that animation should look like:

So far, I've gotten Little Clown to export, as a still frame, from Blender in Collada 1.4 (.dae) format, but Collada does not support animation of modifiers. I thought I could get away with exporting him, animated, as a .fbx file and then converting in AutoDesk Converter to .dae. No such luck as of yet, though.

I think what I need to do is apply a "shape key" animation for each shape change, which is so frustrating, but luckily not excrutiatingly difficult or tedious-- I already did it for the lattice (the modifier that makes the balloon move).

Incertitude is the crux of digital media, and the aspect of it that most tests whether or not one really wants to be doing it. Once I make it though this, it'll reaffirm my capacity to continue in this field.

But until then, I want to throw Blender out a window. I would say throw myself out, but I have other things to live for. Blender does not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

But... what is it?

So I've been writing all these posts with all these ideas for what I'm putting into the project. But what the heck, exactly, is my project overall?

The Digital Calder Project has gone through various stages and versions-- from performance art to installation, but the one I have settled on is an interactive exhibit in conjunction with a Flash website, with emphasis on 3-D modeling/animation and Augmented Reality.

Here is a sketch of the project layout (imagine the center of the Atrium):

Red: All of the items used in the Augmented Reality Calder's Circus
Yellow: Computer screens.
Blue: Multimedia, non-digital.

Here is some background on what all these pieces are and why I have chosen to do them.

Background: For many years, particularly in the late 20's and early 30's, Calder put on performances of his circus for other artists, friends, and family members. There were several acts, from 12 to 30 per show-- resulting in a length varying from 15 minutes to up to 2 hours.
Motivation: An article depicting the troubles of preserving these pieces gave me a problem to solve. My goal here, by using AR, is to imbue a similar sense of unpredictability that came with watching a presentation of the circus. Users will experience both viewing and performing the circus, without the use of literal fabrications or imitations of the original items or performer.
What I've done: 3-D models of 3 acts, working toward 5 acts. These are animated and linked to AR tags to allow user interaction with and guidance of the performance. Users will follow instructions to act as Calder, and see their actions result in an unpredictable performance.

Background: Calder is well-known for his sculptures made of found objects. One such item, Chock, is made of Chock-Full-O'-Beans coffee cans.
Motivation: Where there's computers, there's coffee. And it's usually in a paper cup. My goal is to use Calder's design sensibilities, but place them in the digital age. Most people no longer make their coffee at home, but they do go through loads of Starbucks cups. Starbucks is very much an emblem of the computer age, gaining its popularity in the same years of PCs and laptops. I think if Calder lived today, he would have created Buck, instead of Chock.
What I've done/will do: Use Starbucks paraphernalia to create Chock's grandson, Buck. They have a striking resemblance in stature.

Background: Perhaps his greatest contribution to the art world, and unmistakably Calder's, is the mobile. He often used primary colors of painted, cut aluminum sheets. However, when metal was hard to come by, he used found objects for his mobiles. These were often named by what they contained, or what they represented to Calder. Several of them were called 'Universes.'
Motivation: With the idea of the digital universe close in mind, along with the obvious homonym of mobile phone, what better a found object piece than a mobile of mobiles? Just thinking about explaining the levels of this makes my head explode every time. Essentially, it mirrors his use of found objects. It mirrors his signature piece, the mobile. It reflects an idea of the digital universe as interconnected yet mobile, non-static, and always in precarious balance.
What I've done/will do: In the style of one of Calder's mobile Universes, use mobile phones as the weights, connected by wires.

Background: Calder once said, "I think best in wire." He was truly gifted in creating likenesses of faces of friends, as well as prominent figures, in wire. He could work it into a shape as fast as some people can sketch. Some of these pieces include Josephine Baker, a jazz star of his time; Romulus and Remus, a mythological tale; and Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States during Calder's most prolific wire-sculpture years.
Motivation: I am not much in wire, but the more I work on my skills in 3D modeling, the more adept I become at forming curves into recognizable shapes. What I liked most about seeing Calder's wire sculptures in person was the way they look at different angles, and postulating how they might have been shaped. 3D software and animation allows the finished piece to show a sort of construction/deconstruction...
What I've done/will do: Create President Obama's head in Blender. Animate it so that the path of the curve starts in a blank space, then traces along itself to reveal the finished piece.

Calder did not live to see the internet. He didn't make a website or think about how to share his work mobile-y.
Motivation: All of this hard work, why not share it with the world? Really though, here is my overall goal for the finished project: put forth a projection of how thinking about art in a digital sense can renew it, and help preserve it, without imitating, faking, or mocking it. It can give viewers a new appreciation of it, see it from a different angle. It does not try to bring the dead to life, but brings the living to a separate level of thinking about art. The Digital Calder Project would not be the end-all for this sort of endeavor, but a new beginning to unlock old doors of artists gone by.
What I've done/will do: Create an interface that matches Calder's style: early-mid 20th Century modern, primary-colors, found-objects, and surrealist tendencies. Upload images and videos of Barack, Buck, and Mobile, along with their (final draft!) background/motivations. Create separate interface for Calder's Circus-- upload AR script/webcam interaction and instructions. Link to videos of the originals on Whitney museum website. Provide printouts of the AR tags, and let the user play from miles away.

I hope this helps anyone who has undertaken reading all this understand what I'm working on and why I'm doing it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Little Clown

Aw look at him with his balloon nose. The balloon has a lattice around it to deflate/inflate, caused by Calder blowing into the horn at the bottom of the foot.

Will post animation shortly, I hope!

UPDATE: I have apparently forgotten how to animate using lattices. Expect animation tomorrow while I try to figure this out in the meantime!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fanni has a face!

Watching the Calder videos with Mike today, I had a revelation: Fanni has a face. And a bellybutton. I have now constructed her front view, complete with texturing.

I had another revelation, too. Augmented Reality. Woop woop. While I continue texturing and creating animation loops for these guys, Mike's going to look into FLAR-- Flash Augmented Reality Toolkit.

For a minute there I was convinced the abbreviation was FART because of the T in toolkit. I corrected my thoughts but still felt the need to share that, in non-augmented reality, it is the true abbreviation.

More tomorrow. Sleep now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This is elephant.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Hey hey. As Martin pointed out, there has been a dearth of posts the past couple weeks, but this is not to say I haven't been working. Believe it or not, amongst the week of hardcore wedding planning and then sitting across from "Madmouth Mez," my new BFF, on the train to London, I did get some stuff done.

I have been reading Calder's autobiography, which is an enjoyable book. He is so amusing with his recollections of runny eggs and his sister's tendency to be weepy. Most of the useful quotations, though, I find I have already read in other books. Nonetheless, I am glad to be hearing it [reading it?] straight from the horse's mouth.

I created two [very] rough Blender models so far of Fanni the Belly Dancer and Elephant. They need some cleaning up and texturing before I animate them, but here they are in all their angular, gray glory. Actually, the elephant's not looking that bad!

I also created the first page of the Circus interface, which I am actually very proud of. The lettering of "Calder's Circus" is modeled after this image, a wire sculpture made by Calder. I created it using the pen tool, and animated by shape tweening each letter. The animation can be seen here, and below is a screen shot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm Leanne Joyce. I Solve Problems.

In my most recent read, a chapter entitled “Calder’s Once and Future Circus: A Conservator’s Perspective” by Eleanora Nagy in Calder: The Paris Years, I found purpose. The chapter grapples with the issues of preserving an artist's work, along with his intent, in this case, Calder's Circus. The art of it was a performance, and it is not really possible to bring him back to life... but there has to be a better way of capturing the spirit of his highly mobile figures than displaying them in glass cases. Carol Mancusi Ungaro, curator at the Whitney Museum, where The Circus is kept, writes in the introduction to this chapter:

In every sense, the engine (the artist himself) of the machines (the figures) has died. Yet, without energy, without movement, the machines settle for a subdued presence and elicit at best a static curiosity. Over the years, the Whitney Museum of American Art has chosen to exhibit Calder’s Circus in this stationary state, accompanied by filmed images of Calder “performing his circus by manipulating the figures. As spectators, we must provide the leap of faith that connects and energizes the two disparate site of the Circus—the actual (but still) figures and the moving images. Is it successful? It may be the best we can do within the boundaries set by responsible museum practice, but is it enough? As a seasoned, conservator, I think not. I wish I could provide a ready solution but I cannot—yet. Rather, I can muse about the production of a stop-motion animated film that demonstrates an celebrates the sophistication of Calder’s handmade mechanisms. I cannot endorse a refabrication of the figures from brightly colored new materials that may or may not resemble the original fabrics, because I accept that works of art age gracefully. Consider what a Rembrandt painting would be without its cracks. In short, a fake. What I can support, however, is an in-depth study of the physical phenomenon of the Circus with an eye toward Calder’s impressive engineering of his figures, his selective accumulation of multidimensional accoutrements, and his various demonstrations of how it all works.

Evidently, there is a very real issue to solve here. This brings my project in a slightly new direction, but it is one with a finish line and a purpose. I should strive to bring The Circus alive, at least as much as possible without its creator nor an imitation of him. Initially, I thought about performing a version of the circus to "digitize" it... but somehow this didn't feel right, and the more I read about Calder's art, and those who have attempted to mimic it, the more I doubted that would be going about this the right way. Turns out, I was right to feel unsettled about what would have been, in essence, creating replicas of his works for a replica performance. It wasn't really moving, and it wasn't really "me."

So what's the big idea?? Ideally, if there was a way to get access to the collection, I would take 3D photos of it (that is, take images of it from all sides) and then, using photo manipulation, combine these images (for example, Little Clown with a deflated balloon) with new images (a 3D model of little clown and the inflated baloon). The crystal-clear animation of figure's motion would play adjacent to grainy footage of Calder himself manipulating it, which would be next to the antique figure itself, safely preserved in a case.

This way, the objects would be reanimated but remain untouched and preserved. Granted, the authentic objects won't move, so visitors would still need to take a different [but smaller!] "leap of faith." But, the great thing is it shows how digital resources can be used to create, in turn, a new work of art-- one that won’t die, but bring the dead to life, until the technology is surpassed by a better one.

Truth be told, I won't have access to the collection at this point. So some figures will need to be made, but here lies yet another opportunity for hands-on education: I will, like Calder, make figures from found objects (modern ones) to illustrate how he used things readily available to anyone to make art. These found-object figures will each be tagged for the webcam. Users can pick up figures, place them on a shelf in front of the webcam, and when the tag is read, the animation/video will play.

There are a variety of issues that my solution does not solve, but to be quite frank, I do not see them as any reason not to try it out. For instance, one of the problems Nagy points out in the chapter is that there is only video footage for limited number of the figures. Fair enough, but do we really need to wait until all of them are discovered before we try to solve this?? Sometimes you just need to connect the dots, and if you get them wrong, you go back and fix them. Like in Archaeology-- they don't always get it right! And sometimes when the source of a work is gone, you just have to make due, and that should be part of the adventure of it all.

I don't mean to sound insensitive-- I am surely not taking on this project because I disrespect Calder. I just think that he'd be more amused by someone working towards something useful for his work than hemming and hawwing about it. Don't get me wrong, hemming and hawwing is very necessary. I am thankful for reading all the hems and haws I have, as it saves me from doing all of it. But like I said, I'm Leanne Joyce. I solve problems. I think I'll get working on that now.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I <3 my Library Card

Just to update you, as I am sure everyone is waiting with bated breath for these updates, I've been in the library this week. My schedule said I should be done with this part, but as it turns out, I'm going to need more reading time than I thought-- keep finding out something new or getting lost in an idea about a picture of his work.

That's not to say I haven't been planning and scheming, which I have (read the last 3 posts). It just reaffirms everything I think about project schedules: each step always takes longer than you think it will. At any rate, the project is still moving. Things should pick up as I start making the designs.

I will be making some real-world designs to try and move away from the computer screen, which I'll explain later as I need to get going!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Back At It

I have been OOC the past few days due to the whale tonsils that took over my life and ruined the break I was going to take with two best friends, but thanks to Fleming's moldy bread accident, I am getting better and am back to work. Joy! But seriously, I am happy to be doing this instead of just sweating all over the place.

Now that I have shared too much about myself, I must also share this resource with you right away because it is just too cool. The Whitney Museum, NYC, has Learning@Whitney, a portal for teachers, kids and teens, but don't let the labels dissuade you from exploring (they all lead to the same gallery). It has a wealth of information on, and high-res views of, pieces of the museum's collection, including 10 of Calder's.

There is also a write-up about each piece, including its context and artist. These write-ups site sources-- books in English (yay!)-- that I fully intend to check out as soon as possible.

The image of Rigoulot, the Strong Man, Weight Lifter, 1926-31 takes you to this page, on which you can view (and download) excerpts of video from Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927 (Jean Painlevé, 1955) of Calder performing his circus. Good gravy, that's a find. The 6 other circus pieces in the gallery will take you to a page to view those videos, as well.

Another gem in this gallery:

Chock, 1972

Wowwie zowwie. The obvious choice, for me, will be to take on this design and make it a grandchild, Buck.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fun Facts

The reading's been going well. Getting to the point where I need to skim over things I already know, but every once in awhile, a Calder fact jumps out at me as "fun." Here are a few of these such fun facts:

  • Calder knew what parts of work were fun and which were serious. Despite the fun and lighthearted nature of his pieces, Calder had a strong desire to be properly acknowledged/represented, as well as compensated, for his work (Ambitious).
  • He took his inspiration more from paintings and architecture than from sculpture for his stabiles (Stabiles).
  • He was featured in a Hans Richter Film, Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) (Sperling 17).
  • At the time of creating his Circus, it was prime time for Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth, as well as a popular toy called "Humpty Dumpty Circus." His version "only truly came to life when it was performed" by Calder (Sperling 16, 17).
  • All of the texts indicate he avoided signing onto any manifesto/movement, except for Abstraction-Creation with the likes of Hans Arp, Piet Mondrian, Robert Delauney, Antoine Pevsner, and Jean Helion (Sperling 21). Nonetheless, his work is non often associated with Surrealism (which Calder liked to call "sewer-realism").
  • Marcel Duchamp is the one who gave Calder's mobiles their name (Sperling 21).
  • "Calder actively abhorred the slickly crafted art object. He used unorthodox materials in unorthodox ways, both in process and in final product" (Sperling 24).

I'm not feeling good so I'm going to stop for now. More later.

Friday, May 8, 2009

No, seriously. Calder is it.

So I lied about having second thoughts! I reasoned through what would actually be needed to do the Body of Doom idea, and it's just not in my realm. I'd need a lot of science and anatomy knowledge, aside from a veteran expert in 3D design. One of the program advisers, Mike Greer, did tell me about MakeHuman, which would have been a cool, open-source aid for the muscle-tone modeling.

Onto Calder things! I went to the library and picked up 3 books, as well. Unfortunately, 2 are in French. I tried reading one of them, but I am only on Rosetta Stone Level 1 Unit 2. Ce n'est pas assez bon. Un chat francais lit mieux que moi. In fact, I had to translate part of that online just now to say it.

The books are useful so far in terms of having a look at some of his work. I've found some of his drawings that would be cool to animate on a loop, including these (photos courtesy of ArtNet):

Star and Moon, 1974

Composition with Black Spirals and Circle with Red, 1970

There is another entitled "Black and White," but unfortunately I cannot find a photograph online. I will upload a copy from the book later.

Another thing I need to decide is whether the big piece, Jubile Joyce, is going to be about the circus, as Calder's was, or if I should use a parallel event in my own life. Something like the Nutcracker, which I went to several times as a child, or perhaps the zoo. If I did Nutcracker, obviously I would need the music. I looked on and found one, which is under a non-derivative license, so I might not be able to go there. I beleive it is also midi, which usually sucks, but I actually don't mind it because it adds to the comedy.

More later...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reading List

I am not the first to recognize the Virtual Model inaccuracies-- didn't think I was! With the internet, you are always the last to know (think about it-- it's true, at that moment you read it, you are the last until someone else comes along).

This paper, written by engineering students, is all about making the body images more accurate. The abstract reads:

"Computer generated models of the human body generally do not adequately model the complex human morphology. These models therefore do not reflect the anthropometric realities and are not specific enough for commercial use. This paper presents an approach to adjust virtual models through the use of body measurements as obtained from an anthropometric data set. In this approach, the measurements are used to group three-dimensional body scans, obtained using precise opto-electronic measurement devices, into clusters. The virtual mannequins are then adjusted by using the measurements of nearest cluster member. In this way, realistic, accurate virtual mannequins are created."

So this gives me an idea of how complex this could be-- yowza. Using circumference measurements and body types will still be approximate, but at least closer than MVM, to the shape of a person. Plus, my aim is to create more of an assessment of what the future holds for one's health and well-being than the present image. That should be made really clear.

One thing I'd like to do is, once the model has been generated, also generate 5 similar bodies and have the user select what they perceive themselves to look like, to show they might still be wrong. This is similar to what they do on How to Look Good Naked, and I think it sends a powerful message about how wrong people can be.

Another thing I would like to do is somehow show what the body would look like airbrushed on magazine cover-- or at least address that the covers are nothing to compare one to, even the people in the pictures don't look like themselves. Still haven't written my list of tasks... I will though. Parmise.

On Second Thought...

After further mulling it over, I am reconsidering my Body of Doom idea. This would allow for one cohesive piece, rather than an assortment of pieces. While I still think the Calder idea is a thoughtful one with some great artistic/academic points, I think this one is more about getting into the nitty-gritty of digital design and could be a launching pad for what I want to do in the future (primarily 3D animation and web design-- so I need to get better at them). The Calder project would be so cool and fun, but I think it wouldn't be as much of a design challenge so much as a brain exercise for how to emulate a sculpture/toy artist in a digital format.

First, let me give a better explanation for Body of Doom. I gotta come up with a better title for that.

The idea came from frustrations of my fiance and I upon seeing our Wii-Fit doubles. Mine has a chubby tummy, and while I might, like anyone, have qualms about my body, having a tub is not my primary concern. Fraser's is super fat-- and anyone who has seen Fraser knows he is anything but. The Wii also told us, based on our BMIs, we needed to lose 2 stone (28 pounds) or more each. Is this tough love or just bad measuring? Seeing as the Wii is a machine, I'm guessing it's bad measuring. Of course, these are cartoons with skinny legs, so of course they are not designed to be accurate. But I noticed in online catalogs, such as My Virtual Model, the results are simply designed to be your height and weight, but more perfect. I did a little test (shown below), and noticed that no matter how much your model weighs, it always has slim arms, toned legs, a lifted bum, and a flat stomach.

Here is a 5'4" woman at 106 pounds:

Here she is again, 50 pounds heavier:

The settings I selected are shown below, indicating that you can adjust your shape as more or less evenly proportioned, and frame bigger or smaller, but unless users know what that means or how to assess themselves, they might select (on a bad day) the larger looking figure.

Bottom line, I can't use these models to see how I look because I don't know how I look, and I am guessing there are people out there with more-- or for that matter, less--distorted body image who wouldn't know themselves, either. Documentary programs, such as Supersize vs. Superskinny or How to Lood Good Naked, prove this further. People don't seem to know what healthy is because all we know is what we see, through our moods, in the mirror or the scale, which are terrible indicators of how we really look.

So in this age of body obsession, and given my experience being an American and living in Los Angeles, there needs to be something to show people how they really are shaped, or at least give them a better sense of it, and how to best take care of themselves. There are certain things about your body that cannot be changed, such as your body type: ectomorph, endomorph, or mesomorph-- and muscle fiber types: fast-twitch, slow-twitch-- and your genetic propensity for "problem areas" or things like cellulite and stretch marks (even models have those!). So, to give a basic walkthough of how I see this happening, a user would take their measurements first (a measuring tape would be provided). They would enter these, then be guided through the rest of the process, selecting their age, body type, estimated fitness level, perceived problem area, and estimated eating/drinking/other habits.

The application would then take this info to generate their body-double, a reasonable likeness of the person, as well as an assessment of their lifestyle (health/fitness). From there, they could have the assessment/recommendations e-mailed to them, but then they could also see a projection of themselves at age 70, to see what would happen if they continued their habits, got rid of/took on bad ones, or got rid of/took on good ones.

I have no idea how difficult this will be, and I'd like to figure that out before I decide to do it for the next 586 hours (I've put in some time already trying to figure out what I want to do). Fraser can point me to the right health and fitness studies to read in terms of the scientific knowledge... but in terms of building a program that can work with these permutations might be a challenge. I might get to work on some combinations to start. I am guessing I could make the interface in Flash-- if not, then Processing. The way I see it at the moment, I would need a model made for each of the hip/waist/chest ratio, height, sex, and body type combinations. Then I would need to make a sort of formula for the health advice, aging... I better write it out. I'll be back.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Calder it is

After mulling it over, I have decided, at least until I hit a wall, that I'd like to go with the Calder idea I mentioned in the last post's vlog.

Why Calder? Why not some other artist? Well, I am running half on a hunch, half on inspiration, half on knowledge, and a third on the exciting feeling one gets from starting something new that has potential for goodness (for those of you who don't do math, that's 183.333%).

First thing I'm doing is reading up on his work. Well, actually, the first thing I did was view his exhibit at the Pompidou a month ago. It made quite an impression. Seeing his work, so modern-looking, and then reading on a plaque that the artist created his first sculptures 100 years ago, made me respect him immediately. His sense of humor, aligned with his treatment of the materials and subject matter in his pieces (see here and here) comes through as nothing less than brilliant. It is a delight to see someone who wasn't afraid to let his enjoyment of his craft show through.

So, really the second thing I am doing is reading up on him-- check this out, found on, regarding Cirque Calder:

"The assemblage included diminutive performers, animals, and props he had observed at the Ringling Brothers Circus. Fashioned from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials, Cirque Calder was designed to be manipulated manually by Calder. Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere. Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success. Calder's renderings of his circus often lasted about two hours and were quite elaborate. Indeed, the Cirque Calder predated performance art by forty years."
Forty years ahead of the times! You see-- I knew we had a kinship, Calder and I. At first I was thinking, perhaps it's the connection between us, he the inventor of the mobile, and I, the inventor of sweet F.A., that makes me like him. More likely, however, is this desire to be ahead of the curve. And Cirque Calder is an impressive display, indeed. See here:

So you see my inspiration. Now what to do with it. I have a name! I do. I came up with it last week-- Jubilé Joyce. Hence, the underlying glue would be a digital jubilee of visual artistry and physical formations. I want to pull Calder's pieces into the digital age, and in doing so, I hope to go beyond performance art into a new form. Let's push those boundaries. Now, moving onto how. Stay tuned, faithful reader-- I might be down to one fan; I luv you, one fan.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


This is my blob. I have neglected it, and for that I am sorry. I am (really) planning on writing in it more, as my two fans have demanded I do so. That is why, for the next 16 weeks, this will also be my launchpad for all things dissertation. "What might that be?", you may ask. Answer: a form of digital media genius that requires roughly 600 hours to complete. More specific answer: See video below (I go on for 3 minutes):

So, it's not that I lack ideas. I am a venerable fount of ideas, let me tell you. Well, that's all I got for now. As a final note, people on the street (Blarthikath, this is for you): Please don't tell me to "smile" as I walk by, as I might not have any teeth-- you don't know me. And children, don't run up to dogs and start "petting" flapping at them with your small hands-- they don't enjoy it.