About jen@smartnoise

artist.researcher.lecturer

Final exhibition: Interactive Artwork 2

Forest Reflections 2 is an analogue iteration of Forest Reflections 1.

Forest Reflections 2 consititutes a physical installation of the children’s Forest Creatures. The creatures are framed and laid out in a swarm formation. Like their virtual counterpart (Forest Reflections 1) they, too, live in darkness until illuminated with a candle “interface”. Once again, participation is essential for the work to “come alive”. Until then it remains in shadow.

The framed works are reminiscent of the insect collections common to museums. When the Old Museum on Gregory Terrace was still Brisbane’s premiere historical museum, masses of pinned butterflies, moths and other insects would educate us on the subtle differences as well as similarities of their species. Today, this type of display resonates with our studies on the Bechers, Typologies and Gestalt theory. For me, Forest Reflections 2 is both a poignant reminder of the past and, simultaneously, an insight into the imagined forest of a child.

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Forest Reflections 2 is very much a collaboratively created interactive artwork where students and teachers (Jackie & Katrina) were fully involved with me in both the creation of the parts (the Forest Creatures) and the creation of the whole’, Gestalt swarm

Interestingly enough (from an artists point of view) this real world, physical swarm came AFTER the virtual swarm. I love this journey and the tightness of the conceptual structure. As a researcher in interactive art, I feel the symmetry between the 2 works raises all sorts of questions (the nature of the interface in the physical world, the contrast between interacting in the physical or the virtual or the horizontal plane and the vertical plane…)

Final exhibition: Interactive Artwork 1

Forest Reflections 1 is a computer based interactive artwork that uses a candle as an interface. This richly afforded interface device is immediately intuitive in the movements and behaviours it facilitates. The overall interaction is similar to Spotlighting for animals in the bush, an analogy that highly suitable to our project. The experience is slow and explorative, and dreamy or “mesmerising” at times.

At the exhibition our children would use the candle to explore and light up  their winged Forest Creatures for their parents. These Forest Creatures are the Assemblages they created throughout the artist residency project and which were later stop-motion animated before being combined into a virtual “swarm”, or gestalt as the interactive artwork Forest Reflections 1.

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“Liquid Interactive” at Southbank: a great family outing!

Dear collaborators and families

As part of the Brisbane Festival (3-23 September) there is a free, public installation of an interactive artwork at Southbank. It is called “Liquid Interactive Light Scope” and I would suggest it to anyone looking for an enjoyable outing that will extend the children’s learning beyond our Forest Reflections project: as you move through the tunnel you can occasionally see yourself within the continually changing imagery and in this way your presence, your interaction is contributing to and changing the visual form of the image.

My family went on Wednesday evening last week and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and spring night air – I would recommend the same to anyone, and particularly to enjoy the culture of our growing annual arts festival, the Brisbane Festival.

PS I challenge children and parents to find the sensors when you’re inside the artwork! And what is it? (Here’s a clue – its the same as what we used in Forest Reflections 🙂

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Teacher reflections on Open Studio

Teacher and collaborator Katrina Mills described our open studio in the Montessori class newsletter, as follows:

“Last Friday, our community invited parents and friends to visit our classroom studio to view our much anticipated “Forest Creatures” animations and the interactive artwork made using these.  The results were mesmerising.

Our visitors were treated to a stunning display, a combination of the creativity of our children and the amazing and skilful techniques of our Artist in Residence, Miss Jen. The artwork is interactive and the creation of it has provided our children with a wonderfully unique experience.”

Katrina Mills

Forest Reflections open studio

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We had our open studio today. The Forest Creatures were set out on the tables and the children showed these, as well as their visual diaries, to their parents. About a dozen parents came, and we had about a dozen come in at any one time to the Ellipse studio where Forest Reflections1 was set up. I discussed the interactive art system with them. As you can see from the photos, this work uses a candle as an interface. Moving the candle would reveal parts of the screen image, interactively. Most of the image appears to be in shadow and in doing this ”revealing”, stop motion animations of the Forest Creatures (created by the children) would be ”lit up”. Moving the light also disturbs ‘leaves’ in the ‘water’, and a fluid, dynamic movement accompanies the interaction.

INTERFACE Two children would move the candle at any one time. This candle holder was kindly loaned by teacher Jackie Semple. It is normally part of the Montessori birthday ceremonies. It is a heavy glass and metal construction – perfect for the behaviour I wanted to encourage and the corresponding interactive experience. That is, being heavy and fragile, it necessitates slow, careful movement. This works better in ‘revealing’ the image. It is also consistent with the reflective experience I wanted to engender. Using interface materials that correspond to the concept behind the interactive artwork is consistent with a Constructivist aesthetic (as in the Constructivist Art movement). It also draws on the concept of Affordance, a tenet in Gibson’s theory of perception as something which is interactively constructed between the individual and their environment; i.e. the glass material has a meaning to us that is based on our lived experience of it as something heavy and fragile; thus we see frame our view of it, and our understanding of it, in these terms.

Of course my investigation of alternative interfaces is key to the way that I work. That is, I reject the paradigm of an interface as a typewriter or television – at least for the artwork I’ve done so far:)  Using a candle as an interface is also consistent with the idea of spotlighting. This is walking at night with a torch to ‘spot’ nocturnal animals for viewing. Things are changing – only one girl in the class said that she’s been spotlighting 😦

CONCEPT & METHODS OF CONSTRUCTION The reference to spotlighting was an early starting point in defining this interactive artwork and the Forest Reflections project as a whole. I had it in mind right from the start. It did, however, develop and absorb some of our collaborative encounters: reflections and looking into the water as we did on our first excursion is the most particular example. Other concepts, strategies and techniques brought into the project include concepts relating to the Gestalt – where many parts combine to create a whole that is more than simply the sum of those parts; and ideas relating to perception and having a reflective experience. Techniques include the children’s use of assemblage techniques to create the Forest Creatures and stop-motion animation techniques to animate them. These animated creatures contributed to my pallette as I wove them together into the interactive artwork composition; the ‘parts’ that I combined into a ‘whole’.

During the course of making this interactive artwork I have also been investigating concepts relating to the texture of the gum trees, which children have photographed during the Perspective maps exercises; and the habitats of animals of the forest, as discussed at the educational session at Walkabout Creek yesterday. These ideas may still inform the Forest Reflections interactive artworks for our final installation on Saturday September 10.

Images shown above are from the installation of Forest Reflections during our Open Studio today.

Second excursion to Brisbane Forest Park

During our second excursion to Brisbane Forest Park and the Walkabout Creek Visitor Centre, the students did more rubbings of leaves and found objects and I took them for another photography/Perspective Map exercise. They were also directly engaged with the parks rangers in a number of different activities, which they subsequently reflected on in their diaries. The activities are described by teacher Katrina Mills below:

“Again it was a wonderful day with lots of discussion, exploring and laughter.  The students were kept busy with activities organised by the park rangers.

One activity included playing two outdoor games.  In the first game, each child was given an animal; which they then had to try and match with the habitat it would live in.  A great game and the children certainly had lots of fun.

The second game was based on a familiar school game “Clumps,” but rather than using random numbers the rangers had placed mats around the area symbolising trees in a forest.  The children were then told that they were possums and had to find a ‘tree’ to live in but only two possums per tree.  As ‘trees’ were removed (for development, to build homes, etc) the possums were struggling to find enough places to live.  The children quickly began to realise how difficult it was for the possums to find suitable homes.  This game was an innovative way of demonstrating to the children that human activity can have long term effects on wildlife and highlights that we are all responsible for looking after our environment and the animals we share it with.

Another activity was a ranger talk and an introduction to three animals – a turtle, a lizard and a possum. The final activity was a fantastic puppet show which again emphasised the importance of caring for our parks. A great success!”

Katrina Mills

PHOTOS from the artworks and excursion are forthcoming!!!

Open studio this Friday

dear parents, carers & staff,
Please join us this coming Friday afternoon 26.8.11 at 2pm in the Ellipse room at Grovely primary for an open studio. I will have the interactive artwork Forest Reflections installed for informal viewing and discussion about the process of making it – as well as all the beautiful forest creatures and animations your children have been working on so very hard!!
This open studio is in preparation for our final installation at Walkabout Creek visitor centre on Saturday September 10 (which I DO hope you already have in your diaries! 🙂
Hope to see you on the 26th and again on the 10th!
Jen Seevinck

NEC M260XG purchased

I bought the video (data) projector on Monday. It is a vital part of the project as it is used to present the Forest Reflections artwork and enables us to explore aspects of interface design, i.e. it helps us to get away from the “typewriter” and “television” metaphors of interaction design and instead explore alternative interfaces and alternative interaction experiences.

Thanks again to Arts Queensland (Qld Govt) and the Australia Council for the Arts – as well as contributing to the Forest Reflections collaboration, this projector will remain with Grovely State Primary School to continue to serve the school community after our project has finished.