Monday, February 27, 2012

Caloundra City Private School - Virtual Vegetation

As part of Treeline 2012 I'm working with a selected group of students from Caloundra City Private School over four workshop sessions. Together we are going to create textures for virtual plants that will be the basis for a machinima that will be shown as part of the Treeline exhibition at Caloundra Regional Gallery in May/June.

It's a big learning curve for anyone to get their head around the intricacies of virtual reality, so the first day was both exhausting and exciting. Each student now has a standalone simulator installed on their laptop, courtesy of the school's IT guru Mr Steven Rattey. For the students, their first taste of a virtual world showed them just how much fun it could be, and just how frustrating it could be when your avatar got stuck. In the picture to the right I'm introducing the students to my avatar Juanita Deharo and the world of virtual artworks.

It was a steep learning curve but lots of fun. The students at this school are well supported in their understanding and exploration of technology, and there's a philosophy that encourages enrichment through new experiences. For me as an artist it's a dream school to work with and I'm looking forward to what we can produce together as a collaborative work.

I'm already doing a collaborative project with artist Vic Keegan from the UK who is making textures on his ipad for me to use in creating a fantasy garden. The image above shows the students looking at some of this work. We also looked at the inspirational work of Soror Nishi and hope we can talk via live stream with her at one of our later sessions.
The last part of the day was used to begin creating some drawings that can be used as plant textures.
I've already started playing around with some of these, although it's in the early stages. Here are some very crude beginnings.

These are some plants I made from a drawing by Alex. I played around with the drawing in Photoshop and applied it to 3D object. The texture on the tree leaves is also made from Alex's drawing.

This one also includes Alex's images but also some of the plants and the foliage on the tree are made with an image drawn by Bronte.

Thank you to the students and teachers of Caloundra City School who have made me so welcome. I will be posting more pictures here as I continue to experiment with the students' drawings.
The next session is in a few weeks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Treeline 2012 - Day 2 River School Maleny

We started out Day Two at River School in Maleny admiring our cyanotype work from the previous week. The little swatches of cotton fabric had become a rich and luxurious shade of blue with subtle shading around the natural objects we had used to create them.
During the week Renata had photographed all the swatches. Judy had played with these images, creating patterns that had been printed  on paper for the day's activities. 
We started out with the idea of making shapes out of the cyanotypes- with stencils, or cutting out - and adding drawing and text to make a message that said something about the environment.

It was amazing to see how much thought the children put into this, and there were some great results that will be included in the books that will be exhibited in Caloundra at the Treeline exhibition in May.
The children at the River School spend their days in a very special environment of a beautiful natural landscape and a school culture that embraces caring and conservation values, so they needed very little help to think of ideas and themes that fitted with the Treeline objectives. There was also a bit of humour and fun.
Renata made an exceptional contribution by spending all the hot day in a small space scanning the work as it was produced. Thanks Renata!
After lunch the children were asked to take a few minutes to write something about their involvment in the project. This was a task they took seriously and excerpts from their stories will be included in the books in the exhibition. Part of the process of participating in an art project like this is contemplation of what's been learnt and what might be the implications for the future, so it was rewarding to see  the children take the time to think a little on what we'd done.
 There was also some productive fun to be had with the box of toys Judy had brought. We used the cyanotypes as backdrops in some scenarios, and some of the little tableaux had a serious message.

A very big thanks to The River School, to the students in Year 7, and especially to the two remarkable teachers Josh and Tracy who participated in Treeline along with the students.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Treeline 2012 Kicks Off at River School Maleny

Treeline 2012 is focused on education and working with young people. Artists  will be be working within selected schools on the Sunshine Coast.
Yesterday the first part of the 2012 Treeline programme got underway when  Renata Buziak and I spent a day at the River School in Maleny.
Renata and I are working with the Year Seven students from the River School on a collaborative project that incorporates cyanotypes (which we did yesterday) and a digital component which we'll do next Monday. John Waldron from Sunshine Coast Council did us the honour of coming to officially start the project and tell the children at River School about the objectives of the Treeline project.

To make the cyanotypes Renata had the children collect natural materials from the bushland and gardens surrounding the school. These were arranged on cloth treated with light sensitive chemicals. When exposed to the sun it turned blue in the parts exposed to the UV light.
The children were encouraged to think about their arrangements and to make work that reflected their feelings about the school's wonderful natural setting.

Then the arrangements on the cloth were laid out in the sun and we waited 10 minutes or so for them to develop. It was a really hot, sunny day and it was only the excitement of the process that kept us from wanting to be indoors or swimming in the creek.

Then it was time to take the cloth inside and wash it under running water for quite a long time. A great activity on a hot day. You have to be quite quick about keeping the sun off the cloth after you remove the objects, so we carried it inside in a black bag.
After a long time washing it was time to hang up our masterpieces. What an amazing thing to see how they turned out.
Cyantotype is quite a simple process and was one of the forerunners of modern photography.
Next week we are going to take our creativity one step further and see what we can do with digital manipulation of images of the cyanotypes. Watch this space to see how it turns out.