‘Reveal’ Report Part.2 [LUX – Helsinki]


If you haven’t already, please read Part 1 [HERE]

So, after about a year of planning I flew out to join Dan and two of his third year students from Guild Hall School of Drama (London) in Helsinki. The first thing that hit me was the weather; it took your breath away it was that cold. I arrived about 11:30,  after a beer I went straight to bed… but the next day we got up and went straight to the cabin.

THE CABIN

We had a porta-cabin upon which all the computer hardware was kept. (We where lucky as some people had tents!) And this was pretty much my view for the next 6 days…

Lots of coffee cups lying about!

AND IT BEGINS…

The first two days we had to set up, test and check the system. Then LUX was officially open and the public could all the pieces in full glory. Public viewing times where 4:00 PM until 10:00PM

We spent two days fine tuning and making the Isadora patch perfect. The sun went down about 3 so we had a short while to preview the images properly… this was from day one…

Sorry for image quality I was shaking holding my phone!

Day One

We attracted a lot of attention! So much so that people where blocking the pathway and filling up on the stairs in the image above!

People going about their daily business walking or cycling home had to stop and ask people to move out of the way. It was great to see so early on.

It became clear after only a few hours that children understood it straight away and some of the elder people took a little longer to figure out the concept and interaction. We found that a lot of people didn’t want to interact with the piece and just wanted to watch. But the flow of people made it work anyway. As people walked directly up to the cameras they soon realised that they where blocking the cameras and revealing more of the wall. We had a few dogs sniff the cameras and push buggies also looked good interacting with the wall images as they rolled by.

Some interesting observations for me including a guy swinging a white plastic bag around his head for about half an hour, a man and woman dancing like robots and a small child physically touching the wall and projected light thinking that it was somehow physically interactive.

The first night went really quick and some of the patches didn’t look as good as expected. But overall we where happy…. we then went for a beer and didn’t get home until 4 in the morning! The guys at sun effects looked after us and it was all networking (of course!).

TECHNICAL DIAGRAM

This is just a simple technical diagram to show the workflow.

It’s not the best diagram but it gives you an idea of the layout

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Finding the perfect equilibrium…


What am I on about?

Well, I will try and explain; just like a dance or theater piece the amount of technology you use can influence and affect the performance itself. Do you A) create a piece based around the technology or B) make the technology work for you? or C) try and do a bit of both? In my case at the Museum and Art gallery the main focus is predominantly the artifacts and collection themselves. The technology and systems used are to help and assist the members of the public; BUT there is a massive push in our global strategy to use new and emerging technologies which are ‘innovative’ therefore there has to be a degree of a ‘wow’ factor. And here lies the problem for me. The wow factor can not be more powerful than the artifacts but enough to be recognised and appreciated.

You can read more about this idea here:

http://www.digicult.it/digimag/issue-030/the-importance-of-being-interactive/

Museums and galleries are wanting to reach out and engage with more people and technology can help with this through various means. If the technology is too over the top and futuristic then people may feel uncomfortable and walk away from it, they may not know how to use a multitouch screen, they may have never seen a Kinect camera before or perhaps they don’t know what an iPad is! Yet stereo typically younger generations instinctively know and somehow expect a screen to be multitouch or gesture controlled. Where is this equilibrium?

There is a lot to think about.

Isadora ‘Watcher’ (re-open on crash)… a free app you will (hopefully) never use!


Isadora is a very stable program, but as beta tester I do occasionally get sent versions to test that are not quite ready and can have bugs; before you ask I can’t reveal anything about future releases – it’s not my place!

However at my new job as Digital Creator at York Museums Trust I realised very quickly that people are skeptical about putting machines/computers and software into installations because they do not trust them and ‘they crash a lot…’ and to be fair there is nothing worse than walking into a space like a museum and seeing an out-of-order sign. So I have had to think about how I can 100% guarantee that the machine and Isadora will keep running 362 days of the year whilst the museum stays open.

Isadora is a very stable program. I find 99% of the time it crashes because of something I’ve done; something silly like attaching a wave generator to the movie player selector… we’ve all done it as it cycles through 100+ movies in less than 5 seconds…. instant hard drive meltdown (on my 5400rpm drive anyway!). Often its a Quicktime of Finder error. Sometimes its a Quartz file playing around with video inputs or sockets. Its not that often Isadora is actually being naughty.

But, I decided as a fail safe to create a little app which loads on start up and watches Isadora constantly to see if its running or not, if not it re-opens Isadora and starts all over again. I created the app in Automator for Mac and then Mark Conilgio revamped it and made it much better allowing it to open and select a specific version of Isadora and a chosen file. (Is there anything that man doesn’t know?)

So, i’m afraid I can only answer basic questions about this as in the end the final app was mostly done by Mark, however you will figure it out very easily when you open the app in Automator due to Marks annotations within the code. I’m afraid this is a mac only thing but I have heard that you can do similar on Windows. I am going to investigate this at some point.

For Windows users check out this post here:

http://www.blogsolute.com/restart-closed-applications-automatically/21992/

This is how to make an app start when you log in:

http://osxdaily.com/2006/11/29/how-to-launch-application-on-system-start-in-mac-os-x/

I hope this will come in handy for those of you doing insulation works, long VJ sets or any unmanned performance/install.

Here is the thread on the Isadora forum; ask any questions here:

http://troikatronix.com/forum/#/discussion/319/auto-reopen-on-crash

And….

[DOWNLOAD HERE] (link to my Public Dropbox)

Thanks,

Graham