Collaboration with Sharon Kelly

For the last year, on and off, I’ve been collaborating with the visual artist Sharon Kelly. Sharon has a keen interest in running and she draws on this in her art. The collaboration fell out of a chance conversation we had about the possibility of fitting her up with some accelerometers while she was running and doing something visual with the data that generated afterwards.

The process we settled on was me giving Sharon a wii-mote and a netbook, when Sharon went out for a run she would set the netbook up and put it in her backpack and carry the wii-mote like a baton in her hand. The netbook was running Glove Pie which took the wii-mote’s accelerometer data in via bluetooth and output it to a Processing sketch via OSC. The sketch just timestamped and recorded the raw data generated by Sharon’s hands while running. Here is what part of the raw data looks like in Excel

Periodic data plotted

Periodic data plotted

 

I took this raw data and wrote a second Processing sketch that attempted to animate the data in a style that complemented Sharon’s pencil drawing, it takes the accelerometer data, scales it and then animates it in 3D, as the pen width doesn’t vary with depth it gives the impression of a 2D drawing. Here’s a video of it running.

I showed this sketch running on Sharon’s iMac at her February show in the Crescent Arts Centre.

Sharon spent some time in the gallery with the sketch running and as well as finding it quite hypnotic became interested in using it as a source of inspiration for sketching out the forms she saw in it. Exploring this example of pareidolia became the focus of the next stage of the collaboration. We arrived at the idea of exploring the data looking for visually ‘interesting’ sections of the data which could then be used as inspiration for more abstract works.

This led me to rewrite the early Processing sketch in MaxMSP/Jitter and create a standalone visualiser I could hand over to her so she could move through the recorded data, explore it and experiment with different scalings and projections. I tried to give the sketch a stop motion style / pencil drawn effect that was inspired by Sharon’s work. Here is an example of her accelerometer data being visualised by it.

The next stage of the project which will be occurring in PS2 next week as part of the rehearsal rooms project will involve projecting these data visualisations and making stop motion videos with Sharon, inspired by the shapes and motion inherent in original data. I met Sharon last week in her studio to work on the set up, here are some early photos.

Projected visualisation and response sketch

Projected visualisation and response sketch

Stop motion set up

Stop motion set up

Web cam taped to charcoal and bamboo contraption.

Web cam taped to charcoal and bamboo contraption.

The last photo is of an interesting contraption that came out of working together in the same room for the first time, it’s a webcam on a piece of charcoal that led to some interesting animations.

Charcoal cam animation one

Charcoal cam animation two

Charcoal cam animation three

Charcoal cam animation four

Charcoal cam animation five

What I found interesting about the process has been the theme of imitation, of my visualisation attempting to imitate her work and in the next stage that of her drawings imitating mine, each working iteratively towards some middle ground between us. It’s been really great working together, an open ended exploration with lots of back and forth. I’ll post materials from next week’s gallery time as they arise.

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