Architectural Drawing Workshop

This was an afternoon workshop lasting 3 hours. The am of the workshop was to learn some basic architectural drawing techniques and skills. It was held in the Architectural Department and taught by Charlie Bull.

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Charlie would show us the task she wanted us to do taking about 10-15 minutes each time to talk through and demonstrate. We then went and practised that for a time and then gathered around her again as she went through the next technique. There was a hand-out detailing all the things we covered and more. Despite having a bad cold I really enjoyed the workshop and will definitely using the things I learnt in my drawing from now on.

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The equipment we used was from the School of Architecture so it was all professional quality equipment. We used Roting Pens and compasses and good quality papers to work on.

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Photoshop Techniques for Laser Cutting Files

For producing laser cutting and engraving files I would normally use Corel draw or Illustrator. This work shop was looking at ways of using Photoshop’s powerful editing and drawing tools to do specific some general but really more specific tasks which would be harder or unobtainable in Corel Draw. The Photoshop files can then be saved in specific formats or exported to Illustrator from where it can go to the laser cutter. The work shop moved quite quickly and I was feeling pretty awful from my cold but none the less it was a good workshop and I got a lot out of it.

When using image files I normally only use them for raster but the techniques the work shop covered was trying to create vector and raster files from photos or scans, like drawings for example.

First we looked at tracing your photo creating a work path using the pen tool. The work path is then exported in an Illustrator format and then can be opened in Illustrator or Corel Draw for laser cutting.

In Photoshop altering these things in various ways can help with selecting what you want:

  • Contrast – Dramatically changing the contrast can help in most cases where colour exists in lots of gradients, using the levels or curves are the best ways to alter these.
  • Geometry
  • Colour  – Indexed colour – this changes an images colour palette, so changing it to 3 or 4 colours can take away selection difficulties and aid clean selection paths.

Playing with the tolerances on all these things is helpful to achieve your desired effect.

With scans (depending on scan or image quality) the magic wand tool works well and tracing is again generally a good tactic. One technique is to block fill the negative spaces or detail that you don’t want to capture and this can make selections easier and cleaner.

Switching to mask mode shows what is selected and what is not. Its good to toggle in an out of this as you go.


Field – Term 2 Formative Assessment

Today I gave a presentation which was a reflection on my time on the module Virtual and Real Internet of Things and a project proposal. I felt the presentation went well. I spoke about my experiences and ideas for about 10 to 15 minutes, this was then followed by a discussion between Jon Counsel, Alexandros and I about where to start with my idea and what direction to pursue.

We essentially broke the project down into two separate component parts. The Scanning element or part and the actual drawing machine part. They raised the concern (I had already thought about) that the combing of the scanner, scanning software, converting 3-D file to 2-D image, then getting the drawing machine to draw the image. I realise this is going to be a complicated project and so it would be best to break it down into different sections. It will require some steep learning curves with programming languages, the world of 3-D scanning software, data, point-cloud sampling and probably some mathematics in there too.

Alexandros recommended I use the open source coding platform Processing which is base on Java – it works very well with Arduino and RPi. From the Processing welcome page: “Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community. Since 2001, Processing has promoted software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach computer programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing evolved into a development tool for professionals. Today, there are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning, prototyping, and production.”

I will continue to learn how to use Python and JavaScript as I feel these will come in handy (besides I’m am already learning them).

Processing also has libraries for the Xbox Kinect module which I was considering using for my drawing machine . With this scanner I could produce a point map or triangulation map of my subject, this could then be simplified and then used to draw an abstracted image of the subject scanned. Could this move it into a fine art ‘realm’? It was something similar that Jon Counsel brought up. He said something along the lines of that given the nature of what I was trying to do that perhaps an accurate representation might be very difficult to produce in terms of recognisability. Perhaps a better idea (and I think more interesting idea) would be to produce simple point clouds (data point maps) of the scanner subject and then use the data and drawing machine for a more visually artistic process or outcome. The abstracted and modified data may end up being more interesting than direct representation.

Things to look at:

  • danielgm.net
  • Kinect and similar open alternatives
  • Gross abstraction of the collected data – how and why? What is a good/pleasing use of this?
  • Processing Tutorials
  • Point clouds and triangulated data – Pepakura?
  • Application of Blender
  • pointclouds.com – library’s
  • Photosyth.com – A Microsoft programme?
  • Richard Gregory – neuro scientist – mapping neurones and brain – conciousness?
  • 3 ways of seeing
  • Illusion of seeing – could I create some interesting effect with the machine?
  • How does my drawing machine relate to the Internet of Things?
  • Visualising big data?

Dissertation – Pre-Proposal, Tutor and Reading Material

I handed in my dissertation pre-proposal form to Jon Clarkson a couple weeks ago. We spent about ten minutes discussing my subject area of interest. I went in with lots of ideas and topics and no questions in the ‘possible questions’ box and left with quite a vague question after the 10 minutes. It was something along the lines of ‘What is the current/emerging role of technology in art and design today?’. To be honest I’m not really that happy with the question, what does it actually mean? Im interested in the relationship between science, technology, art, craft and design but what am I going to actually going to write about? At the same time I am really interested in materials and I am sure I would love to write on a subject concerning materials or materiality! The problem is I don’t know what it is exactly I would like to talk about. One thing that springs to mind whilst typing this is investigating bronze as a subject. This would come from my evolving relationship with bronze, since working at an artist foundry for 3 weeks last August and doing quite a lot of reading on bronze history and working techniques ever since.

The chat consisted of Mr Clarkson and I brainstorming a few artists to use as starting points, the idea is to see where these take me (along with other reading that I want to do) and to investigate the questions that this research throws up and see where I then stand.

  • Richard Semett – The Craftsman – Book
  • Raphael Lozano-Hemmer
  • Olarfur Eliason
  • Bourriand – Relational Aesthetics

Since my pre-proposal hand in I have now been allocated my dissertation tutor – the tutor who’s subject area is most suited to allowing them to lend help and advice to the student. My dissertation tutor is Prof’ Clive Cazeaux. I have only been taught by Prof’ Cazeaux for one or two lectures in constellation during first year so I don’t really know him at all or what to expect. I look forward to meeting him and seeing what he is like.

I shall follow up this post soon with a look at my research and reading up to date.


Augmented Reality – Enhancing the Physical With the Digital

Week 4 of field, this week in Ingrid’s Tuesday session we looked at AR. We first had a lecture coving the spectrum of AR technology and application out there and how Ingrid Murphy uses it in her ceramics work and then I set up my own Aurasma AR account and did a few simple test ‘auras’.

AR stands for Augmented Reality, it mostly manifests itself through digital content attached to physical objects, when the object is scanned by an app on a mobile device with an internet connection the digital content is retrieved from the apps sever and displayed over the object. Good trackers or tigger images are static images, things that don’t move or the lighting that does not move, places like museums or art galleries.

Gartner Hype Cycle – 2014

AR has left the trough of disillusionment and is firmly on the rise becoming more popular over the last few weeks.
I grids work, AR has let her add online content onto her work, another dimension to its quality, a new engaging virtual content.
The QR codes on her ceramics also let her track her work around the world as it was sold and the QR codes were scanned around the world and Ingrid could see where the object was. Multiple QR codes on one object allow for multiple stories, view points and ideas. People will continue to interact with the object contemplating the extra virtual material and what it’s connotations are.

Objects can have QR or AR content that can be continually modified by the artist, so the content, meaning ideas can change over time.
AR and user interaction with a object that is not strictly physical interaction.

AR content can be photographic, animation, video, sound, text or anything digital….what could I make it? A password? A riddle? A secret? A gif? Treasure hunt? A poem, a message or story? Motion capture objects, convey a sensory experience? Tactile qualities, environment scans, document the time scale of a piece, material process, how is this made? An artist can in-bed AR and let you see processes and stories the artist or maker went through to make the object.

Pravana mistriy – Ted Talks

Modern Polaxis – AR comics by Sutu

Modern Polaxis

Wearables and AR

While Google Glass may find some specialized, even lucrative, uses in the workplace, its prospects of becoming a consumer hit in the near future are slim, many developers say.

Whatever happened to Google Glass?

One potential avenue for AR that jumps to mind is the use of it with Google Glass and similar devices. Google Glass is essentially a smart phone device in the form of an optical-head-mounted-display (OHMD) and so there are no tech issues there. It would be ideally suited for AR as the projection would always be directly in relation to the viewers eye and not on a rectangle a couple of feet away from the eye, perhaps it would work better.
Interesting fact: Google Glass was used by the military for the first time in Nepal. They used it to combat illegal animal and herb poaching in national parks.

There are problems with Glass however, an emerging dark side you might say – ” Michael DiGiovanni created Winky, a program that allows a Google Glass user to take a photo with a wink of an eye, while Marc Rogers, a principal security researcher at Lookout, discovered that Glass can be hijacked if a user could be tricked into taking a picture of a malicious QR code, demonstrating the potential to be used as a weapon in cyberwarfare.[75]” – Wikipedia “Concerns have been raised by cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts who have developed a way to steal smartphone and tablet passwords using Google Glass. The specialists developed a software program that uses google glass to track finger shadows as someone types in their password. Their program then converts the touchpoints into the keys they were touching, allowing them to catch the passcodes.[84]” – Wikipedia

Microsoft has now unveiled HoloLens – “We envisioned a world where technology could become more personal—where it could adapt to the natural ways we communicate, learn, and create. Where our digital lives would seamlessly connect with real life.

The result is the world’s most advanced holographic computing platform, enabled by Windows 10. For the first time ever, Microsoft HoloLens brings high-definition holograms to life in your world, where they integrate with your physical places, spaces, and things.

Holograms will improve the way you do things every day, and enable you to do things you’ve never done before.” – Microsoft. Lets see how this lives up to its claims and how well it does in the aftermath of Google Glass. We may also have to think about the term Holograms….

Look at Unbelievable Bus Shelter. – Project uses a bus shelter to make a normally boring wait entertaining and a social tool, encouraging people to interact, talk and laugh through the shared experience.

YouTube de-augmented reality, sketches on acetate, humorous and light fun – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpum4nK2wOM


Field Week 4 – Soundscapes and Audacity

Last night I recorded a series of sounds on my root into town from my house on my bike. I stopped at various locations and took a couple of sound recordings at each location and then chose the best one to keep after listening back to them. I was supposed to only record 5 but seeing as my partner failed to record their five and gave me the recorder with little work time left I was forced to do 8 rushed ones.

The recorder I used was supplied by the university. It is a Zoom H4 :

Handy Recorder H4Handy Recorder H4

It has a pair of X Y mics on-board, supports several different modes of microphone input with various levels of recording quality from MP3 to high definition sound quality.  I used the build in X Y stereo mic onboard – its fairly directional and so needs to be pointed directly at sound source for a clear level sound. The mic allows for nice panning sound effects if its revolved on the spot. The soundscapes were recorded in wav format.

I quite enjoyed stopping in a place and trying to identify some interesting sound in that environment and them try to capture it with the recorder.  Unfortunately I was a little rushed and did not really configure the settings on the Zoom properly for optimal recording quality. This meant most of my recordings were poor and not really suitable for the project. I would like to sign the recorder out again and take more time to find some more unusual or unique sounds around Cardiff – I had not really given myself enough time to do a great job.

I am also really interested in using the Zoom H4 to record some of my own music and sound experiments. I could see myself purchasing one myself one day, as the Zoom products do fall in the lower range of expensive and affordable if I were determined.

After going through our sounds in this weeks session with Alexandros, he instructed us to download Audacity and use it to clean, trim and resize our wav files that we recorded. By next week I need to have them processed and present them with their location photos and GPS co-ordinates with titles and tags.

After downloading Audacity I looked at the Audacity on-line manual and read over the section concerning the basics of digital audio including digital sampling, quality, sample rates, sample formats and size of audio files and compressed audio. Tonight I shall delve deeper into the manual and get the ins and outs of the Audacity software. I think it would be a really useful tool to add to my software ‘tool-set’.


CNC Machining Workshop Part 2

Today was the second part to my 2 part CNC Wednesday workshops.

We covered double sided CNC machining today. As he did last time Keith provided us with a hand out detailing a basic step by step coverage of the basics to refer to when needed. The process is mostly quite straight forward, and I think I should have little trouble by myself as long as I take my time and am thorough with my set up. More complicated cuts should probably be over seen or checked by Keith the technician. The main things to remember with double sided are to remember the slightly smaller parameters in which you have to work, the importance of dead accurate referencing and when flipping to the other side of the work block flip it on the X axis never the Y axis. Double check everything – good practise is measure twice cut once.

Now that I have covered both elements of the workshop I think it’s time for me to 3D model something and then have a go. I will start with single side small cuts – most probably ideas and prototypes for the medal project.