Creativity Base

Tag: moving image

Art: Pushing pixels from ‘The Dudleys!’ to Dead Pixel Designs

by on Feb.09, 2010, under Great Finds, Our Projects

Our passion for retro lo-fi pixel art has really fired up these last 2 years. It all began with the discovery of the freeware progam IcoFX which allowed us to reconnected us with our c64-generation creative urges. I produced our first pixel art poster for a Supermarket show in Big Star Records’ basement in September 2008 and things have snowballed from there!

Happening around the same time was the erection of a giant public lo-res screen at the end of Adelaide’s busy Rundle Mall- The Rundle Lantern. Astonishing in both scale and low-resolution, it wraps around two sides of a multi-storey carpark at a highly trafficked intersection. Emma Sterling and I leapt at the opportunity to produce original animation for it. Our ‘how to’ guide to producing animation for it is available here at Creativity Base. Merge Magazine also caught wind of what I was up to, and commissioned artwork for a front cover and feature article spread.

Meanwhile, in North America, a man I met through a chiptune email-list was cooking up a grand design. Emerging theatre writer and director Steven Gridley put a call out for chiptune musicians and pixel artists and animators, to help create a world that slips between the ‘real’ and that of a glitchy 1980’s Nintendo game. I was originally eager to animate many projected sequences throughout the play, but in the end the team expanded and the workload was shared nicely. Below is a showreel featuring some of the animated sequences from the play, and a chiptune score also written by Steven Gridley. Mine is the flat-looking Mario-esque sidescroller. You can read more about the show at the blog Brooklynshiner.

Since then, I’ve had enough compliments on my pixel art to decide to open an online store, and make designs for merchandise and apparrel. Dead Pixel Designs launched late last year, and the inventory in the Zazzle shopfront is growing nicely. Recent friend and gun programmer Jay Straw also helped me integrate the store into my website, closing the associative gap between danimations and Dead Pixel Designs.

In March, Emma Sterling and I are running a pixel art and animation workshop as part of the DIY cultural event Format Festival right here in Adelaide. Keep an eye on their website, and come along if you love pixels as much as we do- finished works will be screening on the Rundle Lantern!

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Art: ‘Heartsong’ performance combines music, animation, video mixing, sculpture and text

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Our Projects

Several months back, Emma Sterling and I were invited by Sophie Hyde of Closer Productions in Adelaide to join a project out of Flinders Medical Centre’s Arts in Health program. The project entitled Heartsong was inspired by the experiences and thoughts of patients and their carers on the Cardiac Care Unit. Fittingly, the resulting multimedia performance was to premiere in an adjoining space, and did so last week.

Heartsong poster & performance details

Heartsong poster & performance details

The project’s video design task was almost an open brief when we were first introduced, though other elements of the performance had been roughly hewn. A text had been assembled by the project’s producer, Cheryl Pickering, constructed from patient and staff testimonials. Accomplished musicians Richard Chew (keyboards) and Ian Dixon (flugelhorn) were involved, and successfully plotted an improvised musical course which supported the text with colour and emotion. A large scale sculpture of a human heart (approximately six feet tall) was constructed by Diwani Oak, and then lit by Emma Sterling and myself, using a combination of projected and LED rope lighting. Diwani also produced several screen-printed and hand-crafted hangings which also adorned the space, and provided a canvas for the thematically connected poetry of Ian Gibbins to feature on.

Heartsongs central sculpture by Diwani Oak (as installed at FMC)

Heartsong's central sculpture by Diwani Oak (as installed at FMC)

Emma Sterling’s and my greater commitment though was the production and presentation of video and animated content to harmonize with Heartsong’s other elements. We called upon many of the approaches we used to produce our first documentary film ‘A Shift in Perception‘ back in 2006 and set about crafting stop-motion animations, moving textural sequences, lifting public domain found footage from The Internet Archive, and preparing them all for live delivery.

When audience members enter the Heartsong space, they are first drawn to Diwani’s light sculpture, which sits as the work’s hearth. An animated rendition of it also rotates on video screens, while another projection presents a faithful recording of a medical heart monitor read-out. When the improvised music begins, pre-recorded voices recall the words of patients and nurses alike, and lead the audience through the patient’s journey- from symptoms and hospital admittance through care and recovery. In performance, my task is to react to the text and emotions presented by Richard and Ian with improvised video, which I layer, blend and loop for the duration of the performance using Arkaos GrandVJ and a Korg NanoKontrol MIDI controller. The piece is designed to have a meditative, gentle and nurturing quality about it, and audience responses thus far have suggested we’re striking that chord.

Heartsong is installed and performed at the RiAus

'Heartsong' is installed and performed at the RiAus

The first performances of the work are behind us now, with only one remaining performance of our debut season remaining. On Friday, December 11th at the Royal Institution of Australia from 6-9pm, the installation will be open, with the performance occurring around 7pm. The performance runs for approximately 25 minutes, and will be followed by a panel discussion with the involved artists plus another artist also currently exhibiting at the RiAus, George Poonkin Khut.

Dan Monceaux

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Art: Lateral Movement’s Moving Image ‘New Works’ program revealed

by on Feb.19, 2009, under Our Projects

Well, it’s finally ready to announce… the program for the premiere edition of Lateral Movement: Art & the Moving Image is ready to roll out the door! After consolidating the program earlier today, we have made the cinema screening listings available at the event’s official website, with further news on the foyer installations due for a further announcement between now and Saturday’s launch. What we can say is that the foyer will feature 6 independent screens with looping silent works, and a very special post-modern sculpture contributed to by many of the participating artists.

Lateral Movement: Art & the Moving Image (advertisement)

Lateral Movement: Art & the Moving Image (advertisement)

The cinema program is a juicy two brackets strong (each 45 minutes) and features a diverse range of works (aesthetically and conceptually) from around the world. Countries represented include France, Germany, the UK, Canada, the USA, Netherlands, Lithuania, Sweden and Australia. Every bit as exciting as the plurality of nations involved is the latest renovation of the Mercury Cinema’s projection room: the installation of a brand new 4K digital projector. Works will be presented in their best available resolutions, with the closing film, Lee Citron’s ‘Idiot Box’ (USA) presented in breath-taking high-definition for the first time publicly. Also an international premiere screening, the filmmaker will join the cinema audience via Skype from California for a Q&A session with us.

Emma Sterling and I watched approximately 150-200 films in order to bring you nothing short of the best available examples of the expansion of contemporary cinematic arts for this lovingly curated event. The works are author driven, produced independently, and mostly by artists with tiny teams, modest means and big visions. In short, this is a survey of cinema’s possibilities in the hands of artists- extending the familiar cinema experience well beyond the popular conventions of linear storytelling. Among the works you will experience animation, poetic film, abstract screen dances, found footage mash-ups and analog filmmaking throw-backs. VJ showcase pieces, visual music and even a video recording of a whimsical kinetic sculpture feature. If you yearn for more art in cinema, or more cinema in your art, herein lies the potion!

For those in Adelaide (or willing to travel) the session is $10/$12 to attend, and if you send an email to my partner Emma Sterling (mentioning the name of this blog) we are offering a special ‘2-for-1’ ticket offer. Doors open at 8pm (the installations will all be running in the foyer) and the first cinema set starts at 8.30pm. Drop Em a line now, and phone a friend to share the good news! See you on Monday night…

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