HLP Day Five :: Uni SA anthropometric scanning

Today we worked at the University of South Australia's Health Sciences Department, working with Thomas Bowler, Project Coordinator, using their anthropometric scanner. I really wanted to keep this part of the project as open as possible, because it is hard to know what to expect from this kind of technology in terms of how it intersects with what we are exploring, and because it's the unknown element that makes it interesting. We went into the 'lab' with just a simple plan to try a few of the moments from our current choreography in the scanner, which takes around 10 seconds to complete a 3D scan of the body. The fact that Lisa had to be able to hold a pose for this long provided a limitation for what we could select, and this was welcomed as an interesting challenge to how we worked. The scanner also has a fixed 'footprint' which restricts the 'size' (width, depth, height) of what the subject can do in the scanner - and this provided us with another interesting challenge. At times we did have to modify the pose to fit. Because of the flexibility of how we are working, we resolved that if we do want to link the scanned 3D file to our moving image work, we could easily modify the nuances of the movement to better interact with the 3D scan. Lovely.

Lisa peers out of the scanner to view the resulting image on the monitor You can see from the image here that Lisa needed to wear a swimming cap in the scanner - this was to avoid the complexity of detail in hair that can create artifacts in the image. The glasses were a 'wardrobe' choice - nothing to do with the lasers that allow the image to be captured. The 'traditional' pose of the human subject in the scanner was hugely challenged, with Carol creating poses that Tom, who was operating the scanner and supporting us with our project for the day, had never seen in the scanner before. We used props for many of our images, and they offered another dimension altogether. I think we broke most of the rules about how to create a 'successful' 3D anthropometric image, going rather for an 'interesting' image. I became more and more interested in the opportunities for adding movement to the resulting files by creating scan sequences that we can hopefully edit together in post. 

As I write I am struggling to download a player that will allow me to view the AVI files we created from the scans. DivX installers are not recognised, so I am now trying VLC media player. I am still not sure how these images might be used, if at all, but it was a really interesting day - partly because of the physical and practical restrictions that were placed on how the movement was interpreted, and because of the process of inspecting a position from a variety of angles compositionally and spatially.

The most poignant thing for me as a photographer was the idea of how we assume so much about perspective, and perspective choice. How a particular compositional idea can be so incredible from one position and so completely unexpected from another - even though we live and experience a 3D world in such a dynamic way, and know academically how an object will probably appear from another angle because of the sum of our experience of that object / shape and it's interaction with it's environment. The body shadowing itself was an interesting phenomenon to consider. We usually welcome and embrace shadows for adding dimension to images- in this case the shadows become a source of information denial to such a degree that they are avoided. Needless to say we welcomed the shadows in our 3D images. Probably not technically sophisticated results from a University perspective, but creatively a lot of fun for us to play with.

One of the poses we introduced in our 'freeplay' session retaliation - Carol & Lisa between scansCarol Wellman Kelly - facilitating an interesting scan I have now managed to get the AVI files to play using the VLC player and OOPS - something I didn't consider is the portrait orientation of the file - of course! Hmm, I may need to think about that! We were very excited that one of the view options for the files included a grid (this makes sense - they are data-based images used for measurement and information). This may be the only time a true anthropometric grid is used in this project, so it was embraced.

In closing, I just need to say that the university of South Australia has been amazing in providing this experience and the resulting images for our project as sponsors, and they have been absolutely amazing! Tom was not at all phased about us trying any of our ideas and totally supportive of our quirky and random processes. Grant Thomkinson, who has been our main contact with the Department of Health Sciences at Uni SA, has also been brilliant and very professional. We are so grateful to them for their support!!

Tomorrow :: Hoping to install a 'stage' that Peter Stanley has magically created for us, and LOTS more work with the choreography.




HLP Day Four :: Bowden Creative Space

Lisa Griffiths (L) and Carol Wellman Kelly (R)I just had to show this image - shot as we started working on our fourth 'tableau' idea. I think it captures the lively fun of working together in the space and the playfulness of where the project is heading so far!

Today was half technical preparation for next week's preliminary shooting, and half the development of a new vignette. We started the day with a vist from Pete Hall, from Urban Cine. He had a look at the space and we discussed the cameras for the array (we are aiming for 16 now), as well as the lighting for the space. Given that a) I can't use flash because of the limitations for fast shooting and video, and b) the backlighting from the window being variable due to changing outside conditions - it's a really tricky scenario. We even considered shooting at night and backlighting the backdrop so that the light defines the grid from the back. Basically, Pete Hall is an absolute legend, helping to problem-solve and keeping positive.

Pete Hall from Urban Cine, considering lighting

Peter Stanley, the rig technitian, mapped out the space to see if the 4m curved rod will work well in the rehearsal room given our decision to now shoot in that room rather than the large warehouse. We were thinking about a tighter 3m radium but have decided that the 50mm lenses on the Canon 5D Mark IIs will be quite tight, so we do need to work at least 4m away (preferably further). We may need to use the 5m rod instead. We tested a quick array-style idea using my Nikon in varying positions on the array rig to see what the far positions of the array would see of the space.

Peter Stanley (left) blocking out the space, and Pete Hall (Urban Cine) contemplating light

Peter and I also discussed the 'stage' and are hoping to be able to get something robust and aesthetically consistent made up for the shoots. Tricky with little time and no money though, so although we know what we'd like to do it may just have to wait for the final development if we can secure some funding. In the meantime, here is the rough footage we got this afternoon - Carol got her Tennis Marilyn after all!

Here is the raw stills sequence as we shot it. I plan to edit it as soon as I get a chance..

I really like the low angle against the windows. I think it will be quite playful once I get a chance to edit the work together. More thoughts, comments and reflections after today's shoot (another project)..

OK, back now..

I've roughly cut together the 2 angles - it's a little more interesting but I'm still not sure where it's going. The front shot is too close because I shot on a 50mm focal length to get a feeling for what the array will see in the space using a 50mm lens on a 4m radius rod positioned about 4m from the subject.

Looks like we may need to set the array on a 5m radius rod a bit further back - will try that next week. My flashes burnt out again during the low angle shoot, so we only got a few characters done from that angle. I've never had my lights fizz out on me before, so it's a clear signal that I'm going to have to work with continuous light and move out of my comfort zone. We will trial some lighting with Pete from Urban Cine next Wednesday.

Looking forward to working with the 3D Anthropometric Scanner at the University of South Australia's School of Health Sciences on Monday...!


HLP Day Three :: Bowden Creative Space

Another late night! In trying to stay on top of the documentation and daily relection, I find I am working really late to get through the day's material and then work on this blog. 1am isn't an optimal time to reflect and consider, so I'll just note a few point and then add more later..

Carol & Lisa planning the movement idea for "Horse Hair'After reflecting on the Isadora piece (lots of notes about re-working this to make it more efficient and finesse it - to be tried tomorrow), we launched straight into planning 'Horse Hair'. The ideas that Carol was playing with yesterday (using the watering can as a horse head etc) were extended and a 'metamorphosis' idea started developing. Lisa likes the structural planning of the movement to give her direction, and she worked really well on this piece, at a pace that allowed us to shoot each new development of the 'character' using flash. The background ighting outside does has an impact on a timelapse shoot, with the density changing over time! Carol's flair for fashion and the absurd found a perfect expression in her arrangement of objects and nuances of positioning Lisa for the frame. We tried a straight shoot with a single camera, playing with the progression of the movement for the camera. Here is an edited sequence of the outcomes, followed by an alternative edit using a character metamorphosis in suspension. Why? Why not? (just playing):


And here are some stills from this piece:


Next we worked on 'Toilet Lady', based on a variety of Muybridge's women at various stages of 'toilet' (I guess it means 'ablutions' and in this day & age, 'cleansing'. This was fascinating to watch in terms of how Carol and Lisa work together. We used the stool from the Horse piece and a wash basin Carol lugged over from NSW (little detail). Her styling extended to a hair towel, which gave the tableau a Vermeer quality. The choreographic details were then a matter of improvisation, with Carol responding to the compositions of Lisa's body in the space, and to the possibilities that the props and character offer. We shot a rough sequence, played it back and then fune tuned the details for another run. This is the result.


On reflection: I think the space is developing quite an interesting aesthetic. Still considering extending the black grid up to the next set of windows - but I do like the way they look like bathroom tiles in the Vermeer piece. We shot the Metamorphosis against white which worked well, so it is now starting to lend itself to changing across the various pieces..

Lots more to consider and reflect on. But a good day of play.




HLP Day Two :: Bowden Creative Space

OK, it's 12:30am and I am only just downloading shots from today's development - so hopefully I can make sense! Today was great - more progressive in terms of the movement work that Carol and Lisa are developing, and slightly progressive in terms of what we may see in the frame.

 Carol & Lisa working on 'Isadora'

I was hoping to achieve some clarity around the 'set' - the environment we see the characer/s in and the frame we define. I did manage to get a few black grid elements into the frame but am still really unsure about whether it's going to work. I think if we do go ahead with this idea it will need to be explored beyond the windows and perhaps onto the platform..? The grid's function is the create an environment within which the trajectory or change of the subject's movement over time can be examined - but each block also creates an interesting 'frame' within which the composition of the subject can be considered for use as an artist's tool for 'enlargement' strategies (micro / macro).

Lisa really likes the glass backdrop and the existing structure of the windows - I agree and think it would be great to hang onto the structure of what we have, which is already interesting. But I am really missing an enivironment within which we are clear that an analysis of movement is an objective. Sure, there are lots of ways this can be expressed, and I'm sure we do need to explore those, but I am not yet ready to abandon Muybridge's anthropometric grid. Is there any potential in the idea we are playing with at the moment? Or do I need to go back to the idea of a gridded backdrop (blackboard 'flats') and strip away any location characteristics? Problem is, we don't have the time or budget to really explore too many options and I do need to make a decision - but you can't force that, right?

working with fabric

a few more grid elements..added at the end of the day

Anyway, onto the movement..Carol & Lisa worked on the 'Isadora' piece - referencing Muybridge's 'Fancy Dancing' and an undressing sequence. They worked loosely from the images and were playing with the fabric of the character's 'drapery'. In documenting some of the movement I was just enjoying the playfulness and the compositions - pretty standard images but it's just fun to work with dance as a photographer!

'floor' work with the fabric

I shot a sequence of movement with my Nikon. It has been developed beyond this footage, but this is a quick exploration of the movement in the space using timelapse, and considering the semi-silhouette in that space (given that I may be blocking most of the backlight I'm not sure how useful the lighting consideration is here, but it all trickled down into some sort of decision making)..

The next 'vignette mash-up' to be explored is the Horse in Motion (yes, this is the 'Human' Locomotion Project, but how could we not reference Muybridge's faous horse?). We had quite a few ideas and again, a playful approach seems to be the driving force of the material at the moment.

Quite elegant

Carol was inspired by the watering can I brought in for one of the other characters, and decided it would make a good horse head. She's incredibly creative and full of quirky ideas. I like this, it feels rather Duchampian!

A nod to Duchamp..dada potential



HLP Day One :: Bowden Creative Space

Well, day one in the new studio has been great. I have approached this project with a really open mind and very few preconceptions about how we will generate the movement to be 'filmed' and negotiate the approach as a team, and hopefully that strategy will work out. Carol Wellman Kelly, Lisa Griffiths and I basically hung out in the rehearsal room, talking about contemporary dance in general, and about the first steps for the project. We discussed various capure techniques I am interesting in examining (Bullet Time, Timelapse, Slow Motion..) and considered how the series of screens in the final work might be able to be utilised. We negotiated the project schedule and started to look into strategies for generating movement based on Eadweard Muybridge's images.

Lisa (left) & Carol (right) discussing the projectWe began to look at a series of characters drawn from Muybridge's vignettes - he does appear to work across a range of reasonably defined characters so it was easy to identify the 'water carriers', the 'sporty' characters and the 'fancy dancers'. We discussed what appeals to each of us about the images and overall are drawn to the image sequences that are simple, that have strong compositional qualities, and that offer an interesting progression in the movement.

Looking at Muybridge's image sequencesWe made a list of various props that might be interesting to work with in the studio, and will begin to play with those tomorrow. Carol and I then started to look at ways we could use the space to create a grid to reference Muybridge's anthropometric grid, and avoid the costly exercise of having a set made. As much as I'd like to have a set created, I just don't have the budget in this development. So we talked about how we could use the windows in the rehearsal room, exploring both the strip lighting LED idea (could these delineate the background space without looking cheesy?), and the existing structure within the windows. If we use the windows we'd need to have Lisa working on the tables, which are rock solid and would create an interesting spatial boundary for the choreography. But how will they function overall and will the elevated position work for the overall approach?

Hmm, not really working for the function we'd like it to haveWe thought about creating square blockouts blocks that would allow the window frames and some background light to create the grid. This is something I'd like to explore tomorrow. I also need to consider how an elevated space like this might be able to be seen through the eyes of an array. Does this grid offer anything relevant to the idea of an analytical refence, or is it just an easy solution? We'll have to explore this to find out..

Carol Wellman Kelly

Well, it looked ike this idea has some potential, so I tried it with some foreground lighting to avoid getting a silhouetted figure without enough detail and texture. I was really worried about potential reflections in the painted window frames but these are manageable, I think. Shadows could be an issue. Oh, and the fact that with the array in 'cascade' , and using video capture, I won't be able to use flash anyway..

Exploring the 'site' with foreground flashBy the way, Carol is playing with the idea of the horse, referencing the images Muybridge is most famous for. She is using a ponytial prop and curtain cord - nice improvisation!

A bit of fun at the end of the day :)


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