STOP MOTION VIDEO: Pixel Cubes
With being a double-major, in both Graphic Design and Film/Animation/Video, I am constantly working with the computer as a medium. For this project, I wanted to take something from the screen and make it more three-dimensional.
I decided to focus on the idea of a pixel and attempted to realize/interpret it in a 3D way. My first problem was creating what a 3D pixel would look like. Since a cube is the 3D version of a square, it seemed fit to make cubes. Also, pixels can have different color values, all made up of different RGB or CMYK percentages. This is what sparked the first step of my system!
I decided to make a set of 20 cubes, all with a designated percentage labeled on them. The cubes increase by 5% intervals, ranging from 5% to 100%. The top and bottoms of the cubes are white with the % labeled, while each of the other four sides are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow or Black. The amount of CMYK on each side of each square are determined by the percentage of the cube. For example, the 5% cube has 5% of Cyan on one side, 5% Magenta on another, and so on.
I realized that the 20 cubes I made create a 4×5 grid which can be thought of as a unit. If I mae different patterns within every unit and then combined them, I could created larger images or patterns. I also realized that if I were to re-photograph the same unit over and over with different color patterns, I could create a moving image. This led me to creating a short stop-motion video, animating movement and patterns using my 3d pixels. I later took every still photograph from this animation and tiled them together to create a large poster that would show a pattern of the movements I was creating.
What I did not realize through my process is that while I was searching for my system this whole time, I had actually already created it in the very early stages of this assignment. My system was this box set of 20 cubes and my project became how I could utilize this system differently and have endless amount of outcomes from it – be it a still or moving image.
This relates directly to one of the most important things I’ve learned through this class. A system does not have to be evident or overly complicated to work. They also do not need to dictate the work. What systems can do are hold pieces together and make them stronger. It can make multiple spreads feels apart of the same book or instruct you how you’re supposed and read something. Sometimes it can make the form, like it did with my Occupational Outlook book, or sometimes it can lead you to something completely different, like it did with this assignment.
For my system, I decided to make a cookbook. A cookbook, that is something more than just the average cookbook. In the end, it became a book of recipes that my mother makes, and the significance of those foods to me. I made it into a binder format because I wanted to be able to add more recipes as time went on, and as more stories and foods become important to me through my mother.
Everything is in Korean and in English, Korean in white and English in black. Every food starts off with a spread with a photograph of the dish, and a little anecdote that relates to the food. The page layouts have a grid that I stick to, certain steps that require more information are outdented and have a little illustration next to it. I wanted to create a friendly, homey, asian vibe to the book, so I played up the wooden floor texture and the simple illustrations. The binder also allows for some space next to the pages when fully open, so I made a little notepad that sits on the right so that you could write down little notes, thoughts or ingredients while you read the cookbook.
After the crit we had last week, I did some revisions. I rescanned the illustrations and played around with using white as a pictorial element. And I pushed the notepad idea.
Through this class during spring semester, I think that I am starting to understand slowly what a system is and how it can strengthen a design if used wisely and with a lot of thought. I don’t think I have ever used the word, “system” to describe anything in my work before, after this class, I can’t seem to stop saying that word to basically describe everything. It’s amazing how systems seem to be everywhere!
Packaging has always been interesting for me, and with a project about systems, what’s better than creating a system of packaging for a set of items? Also, with my latest work during the semester heavily influenced by Japan because of my wintersession Japan class, I decided to something related to my own culture.
The Eight Immortals are characters from Chinese Mythology during the time when Daoism was popular. They represented the whole of society and their tales showed that no matter who you are, you could attain immortality, whether you were old or young, female or male, rich or poor. Each character had their own item that symbolized them and gave them supernatural powers from reviving the dead to dispelling evil spirits. The eight items are a flute, gourd, sword, fan, lotus, flower basket, drum and castanets.
Originally, tea was the chosen product for the Eight immortals because of the health aspect, however after careful research, alcohol was more suitable, as it had appeared in most of the tales and the play of word, immortality. Because this product is Chinese liquor import made for the American audience, the design emphasized the exotic Chinese style, but still fused both the old and modern.
The illustrations were to imitate the long tradition of Chinese cut paper and the watercolor illustration of the item on each bottle was to imitate the Chinese style of painting. To allow the viewer to see which of the Eight Immortals on the front corresponded to the item, they were always centered and had their item highlighted in color. Although these characters are from mythology, the text was to give a modern feel and look to give a fresh appeal to the liquor for the American market. English names named after what they represented were also used to help Americans remember and differentiate the bottles as well as hint to the tales of each character.
The system made the work cohesive but still showed enough differences to help differentiate the bottles. Throughout the semester, I have gradually changed my views on systems, as I thought they were only set rules that did not allow much. However, I realized, especially with the final project, that there are many aspects where a system can generate something new and interesting. Without careful analysis of the bottles, I wouldn’t have known that there are possibilities of different systems that can be made besides the usual label on bottles. I was able to discover “edges” of the bottle and the use of dimensions and water distortion.
I really like the interaction between art and design, so I’ve always wanted to do graphic design for various fields of art. I think when they meet together, they create an interesting synergy effect. So, for this final project, I wanted to create a visual system for a festival that happens annually during summers, in Seoul, Korea. This festival I chose among many other festivals, had interesting programs and presented many different type of performing arts. Also, this festival was open to every artist no matter they are famous or not, so many underground artists participate in this festival. As I researched more about this festival, I found out that the ticket prices are really cheap, schedules are tight, and the locations are very scattered. The concept of festival was interesting enough and they had full of contents, but I couldn’t really find a consistent visual element to tie them all together as a festival. So, I spent much time thinking about the possible systems and concepts, and the poster was the main part of it.
I wanted to make re-usable posters that they can keep using throughout the event, so I decided to use cut out windows in my posters so they can print photos and titles of performances without designing anything and easily put them into the poster. Also, for the visual element, I created patterns for each categories of performance inspired by rain since the festival is happening in summer. Each cut out window shape is a module for different rain patterns, and people can recognize from far, what type of performance is happening at the location.
I spent too much time thinking about the system, and creating a visual system that ties all different events together was kind of more work than I thought. So I didn’t have enough time for making catalogs that I planned, but I really enjoyed designing posters, and since I’ve been working on books and small stuffs whole year, this was challenging and fun at the same time.
Last fall semester, the classes I took such as, collage and color, required more instinctive decision on visuals. So I worked mostly with my instinct and inspirations until this semester, and had never set up systems before. Sometimes this class was not easy for me because I was not used to set up systems, but this class helped me to think more logically, and I really liked unexpected results that come out of the systems. I think, by creating visual system, people can understand and enjoy my design more and better.
For my system, I decided to find a different solution for a music score. Instead of having the regular music scores where it only means black and white circles to some people, I wanted to create something more beautiful and visually gratifying for anyone to enjoy and experience the emotional and visceral part of music.
I assigned different colors, sizes, opacity of circles, to different parts of instruments. The circles were arranged according to the grid i created which each “block” was made according to the 16th notes (having 16 of them per major). The bigger the circle, the longer the note. Also the more opaque or intense the color is, the more prominent or close to the leading melody the part is. There is a key on the beginning of the score that indicates different instruments, and there is the guideline for octaves and what kind of notes the instruments are playing towards the end of the the page.
After the crit we had last week, I did some revisions. I worked more on the score and made it so that it can become a cd case. I am planning to push this idea and create an actual motion music score on after effects that shows the growth of circles according to the time. (ex: the size of the circle means how important or loud the part is where as the more it is shown on the screen shows the length of the note. This motion movie will be burned in the cd along with the song to be packaged with the music score.
This class really helped me to think differently when I approach projects. I have learned to find or create a system with materials that may seem out of order, different, chaotic, or not relevant to each other. Either from discovering a system by taking a picture in certain way or by structuring a book so that the content looks coherent, I have learned to enjoy and appreciate visual system.
The inspiration for my final project came out of a collection of wedding magazines that I have been slowly piling in my bedroom over the years. What caught my attention where very dim color pallets and the fine detail that is shown. Within that detail, I began to notice pattern. To me, a pattern is a system. From there I began to notice textures and repetition, all in which i kept stumbling upon in my wedding magazines. Right there, I knew I wanted to work from with paper.
Working with paper seemed like a great idea. I wanted to be able to show pattern and system both through my work in a two-dimensional plane as well as a more tangible experience for the viewer and myself. I began playing with paper, experimenting with paper, I was trying to see what worked and what didn’t. I thought back to how it was that I came to the conclusion that this is what I wanted to do and it suddenly became clear to me. My mind tends to wonder off when flipping through a book. ANY book. I wanted to incorporate that.
Personally, the Canterbury Tales is a long and tedious book to get through. Almost impossible. It seemed like the perfect book to add to the project.
Somewhere in my mind I knew I followed a system. I do so in my routines. It only makes sense that the work we produce follows a kind of system aswel and although I have always done so, this class has really help me visualize this and make more sense out routines within my work.
My final book process is generated from my system of choice, where I created a puzzle from a pattern. The idea there, was that from a pattern / puzzle people get lost inside, and find more interesting things. So the aspect of recreating, reorganizing, or taking that aspect, and making it yours. So for this final, I took a step further in the meaning behind a texture or a pattern. I realized that certain textures and patterns relate more to certain people. Reason being is that it reflects their personality and character, so I created a system that compared and corresponded patterns with people attributes. I choose to do my closest friends because then they wouldn’t be afraid to tell their flaws as well as their good characteristics. Not only that, but I also want this to be somewhat of a personal project and I also believe that it wouldn’t have worked as well.
With the help of the computer program Alchemy I asked people to create a pattern for me. It was very important that I collected their very first pattern because that was the one that just came out of their body through their arm and onto the computer. Afterwards I asked them how that pattern related to them in terms of characteristics, personality traits, feelings, etc… I was surprised by the outcomes. Some of the patterns were quite similar, yet they had a completely different meaning to them, and vise versa. It just showed that everyone is different and unique in their way. No one is the same. Now I have this group of patterns that correlates with my friends, and this group shows how everyone has a part to play, and it comes together to form a family.
My final book process began with a long brainstorming session – I used most of my time cycling through different ideas. My only restriction I gave myself for this project was focusing on tweets and hashtag language, and transplanting that tweet language from the virtual world to the physical world. My idea evolved from a series of beautiful mail-outs with hand-lettered tweets, to an interactive game book based on hashtags, to a series of treats or fortune cookies accompanied by printed out tweets, to a printed map following a hashtag through a string of tweets, to a book that follows a trail of one hashtag to another through strangers’ tweets. I think the most interesting aspect of this system is because the tweets come in a live feed, that at any other moment, on any other day, the results would be completely different. The content of the book is entirely dependent on the live content on Twitter.
When asked to create my own system (for the second to last project), I chose to do something made up entirely of image and no text. I took the idea of using a grid, and instead of working with text, I chose my favorite film photos, distorting each one in the same, systematic way. I divided each photo into a series of vertical bars, and in each section, re-placed the photo, offsetting it by a few units. The product was a series of wall hangings. Each photograph translated very differently into the applied system. Some worked much better than others. The content of the Jacuzzi photo lent itself well to the stuttering effect of the sytem because it heightened the feeling of the photograph, while in others the grid system was not as apparent and the overall look was blurry. Even with its failures, this project was my favorite to do.
I now understand how creating systems can at once restrain and inspire my work – they can be a jumping off point for an idea and also a way of putting limits on projects. I was especially inspired by other classmates’s work, and now know that systems expand past book layout. We use systems to create a pattern, distort a photograph, create a typeface and form an identity for a company. Using consistencies in design at once reigns in an idea and creates unity throughout a project.
My final project was making a system that allows a designer to easily create album artwork. The system is quite complex, so I created a sheet that explains how it works. Basically, the system defines a set of rules for the designer, who can then create a design inspired by the music from that album over, while still following the set rules. The result is a geometric styled series of designs that become a set.
The first step in following the system, is to find the colors. To do this you must take the first three letters of the album artist, and using the given chart find their values. The first value will determine the value of C, the second of M, and the third of Y. K will remain at zero, always. This color will be the set background color for this album artist, and appear on each of his or her albums. The next step is to find the color values for each word in the album title; these will become the colors for all the shapes that appear in the design. These colors will be found the exact same way as the first one – by taking the first three letters, finding each of their values, and entering them into the C, M and Y values, excluding K.
Now that there are colors for the design, the designer may love or hate the colors chosen for them. The only option for the designer at this point is to change the value of K – perhaps by making the color darker or more transparent, the color will become less repulsive. This is only to be done if the color is absolutely horrendous or if the colors clash when put together. The challenge of these predetermined colors is to make the design work no matter what colors you are given, and I won’t lie, sometimes it isn’t easy.
Next you will count the number of colors, including the album artist, and if the number is even, your design must be symmetrical. If it is an odd number, than your design must be asymmetrical. After finding this, the designer must then determine the shape that they will be designing with. To do so, they will take the first and last letter from the album artist’s name, and find the value for each. The value of each letter is determined by the letter’s placement in the alphabet, for example A equals 1 and Z equals 26. The number that results after adding these two values together will determine the shape to be used. Using the results, one of these three shapes will be picked:
If less than 16 = Triangle
If between 16 and 33 = Square
If greater than 33 = Circle
After finding the shape, the designer will need to know the overarching theme to follow when making their design. The themes are as follows: Rock=Curves, Jazz=Simple, Easy Listening=Quiet, Electronic=Pattern, Hip Hop=Bold, Pop=Movement, Alternative=Layers. These themes will need to serve as the nature in which the design is brought to be. These predetermined rules will now be in the designer’s head as he or she sits and listens to the album, designing according to how they are inspired by the music, but also sticking to the rules given to them.
Following my system I made 8 album covers. I was really inspired by the process, because using the system took me completely out of my comfort zone. I am usually really bad at choosing colors and it was far more manageable to have to work with predetermined colors rather than come up with my own. Instead, the challenge was to make an interesting design even if the colors seemed awful. If I revisit this system in the future, I would like to change the step that requires the designer to listen to the music and design based on the rules – I would prefer it to be an automated process, where the computer determines the design based on all the rules and the actual sound wave files of the music. I think this system could also become a system for creating imagery for things that are not easily illustrated – and I would like to explore that idea in the future.
Link to the Video: Balance & Duality by yo-e ryou
This project is a representation of the awareness of duality in my life. It is my confusion/dilemma between two worlds–Korean culture and American culture, Hangul and English, abstract world and concrete world, ideality and reality, mind and body, complexity and simplicity, etc. One might think that these words are binary oppositions, but they always ‘co-exist’ in our life.
System for text, image, and sound
Two circles represents my two worlds and values. They constantly rotate–they come to the one point and go to the other. My vertical world(Korean) and horizontal world(English) continues to travel towards to the center(where I exist), but they also keep on traveling to the opposite side as well. On the center point, everything overlaps and it represents my dilemma in making decisions out of this duality. This duality constantly appears and disappears–all the elements in this video is in flux, just as my life.
My approach to represent this duality in images is to look at my daily life again and to re-discover the simpleness and complexity of everyday life. I looked through my footage from daily experiences– both from Korea and the U.S. I discovered subtle dualities that I didn’t pay attention to at that moment. I realized I am not aware of this duality all the time, but duality always exists within my days and I constantly seek a midpoint/balance. I played one video in two different direction-forward and backward- to represent the duality. They meet in the midpoint and pause for seconds.
I used the sound both in English and Korean to symbolize overlapping two worlds within myself. Use of two languages that have different sounds but same meanings reflects the duality in another way. Overlapping two languages and controlling the sound in two different channels(right and left) also represent my consciousness in duality.
My final system is a string of tweets. I decided early on to focus on tweets and hashtag language, and transplanting that tweet language from the virtual world to the physical world. My system primarily lives in how I extracted the tweets. Starting with my own tweet (a simple hashtag, #haha) I click the hashtag to link me to the most recent tweets with that hashtag. I then find the very first tweet in that list that has two or more hashtags, and I click the neighboring hashtag. I then follow this hashtag to the next tweet. The book alternates between a print out of a tweet, and a physical illustration of that hashtag (done without reference to the tweet) on brown paper. The journey divides into two parts, with two separate perfect-bound books. The most interesting aspect of this system is because tweets are live, at any other moment, the results of this system would be completely different, and the contents of this book would be different.
For the final, I chose to do something I’ve been meaning to do since the beginning of the entire year–create a personal identity system for myself. This was a challenge for me mostly because it’s something most people would (and rightfully so) consider a somewhat “precious” thing in the sense that you wouldn’t want to misrepresent yourself with something that is expected to completely define you. In order to best showcase myself and my work (which is generally good craft but using spectacularly low-fi materials and home production methods) I chose to use letterpress and some recycled materials I had with me to begin with. The transparent ink I printed with was chosen to ensure i could print on any paper–magazine, heavy, thick, colored, etc. and still have my identity appear uniform by simply taking on the color of whatever it is printed on.
I started out by determining what objects would be necessary to complete the identity kit. Most of my work is 3D, vaguely sculptural or at the very least made in excessive multiples so I decided to focus on methods of tagging that would be quick and easy to create many of. I also make things with intention of giving them away to other people as takeaways, so my final repertoire of objects became:
1. mini envelopes as business cards (to hold either small giveaway objects or a mini-resume).
2. a shortened version of my resume printed in absurdly small font
3. stickers reading “open!” to seal each envelope (“open” for professional/job related people, and a “?” sticker for cards to give to friends or casual acquaintances), the purpose being to create an element of mystery that might make someone actually want to open my business card.
4. double-sided memo pad–half blank, half printed with space to leave a “memo to” a person
5. string label tags
6. large clear printed stickers for placing anywhere (telephone poles, my own work, accompanying stationary)
The above deliverables were chosen to ensure I would never be limited by ability to place my identity on absolutely anything, whether it be 3D or very large or very small (small enough to contain within my business card, even) and also to avoid the problem of running out of a certain kind of paper–a sticker or tag can be placed on anything to claim it as my own. To contain the pieces of the kit I constructed a wood frame with customized containers for each tool so it could fit in my desk, as a fully functioning reference box for myself.
This class has entirely reconstructed how I approach projects outside of Visual Systems. I found myself struggling all year in Type III, for instance, and only realised (embarrassingly, after the class ended) that had I only just treated our final publication with the same logical thinking that Visual Systems demanded, my book would not have had the problems I encountered in the last week of class. Although belatedly, I have full confidence that I can apply what I’ve learned with more faculty in upcoming years.
For my final Visual Systems project I created a campaign for increased urban gardening. The campaign is called “Plant A Seed” and it targets middle to lower class families around the Providence area. This hypothetical campaign would be a one-day workshop for families of all ages to come together and create as well as learn. I created rubber stamps that can be used to decorate recycled newspaper or newsprint with the campaign’s logo and another decorative element. The logo is made up of the abstracted formal attributes of the folded pot with a small plant sprouting out from the container.
The newsprint can be folded into a container to plant soil and seeds. A sheet of paper with directions is provided to everyone on how to construct the container. A demonstration is provided, but the hand out allows visitors to recreate more of the pots once they get home.
Newsprint is biodegradable and can be planted in the soil without having any worries of harming the environment. If those participating do not have a lawn or place to plant the seeds, they can keep the potted plants indoors by a window. By growing their own garden, they will learn the possibilities of growing their own produce, saving money and the importance of making the earth a greener place to live. Learning about theses facts and information can be found in a brochure that I created to be taken home with people once the workshop is over. It reiterates the importance of urban gardening while also providing some helpful hints on how to grow vegetables and herbs.
The entire campaign is held together as a system through its branding and identity as well as through its target to have people come together and interact. The importance of the workshop is for people to make and learn while enjoying themselves. The supplementary literature and graphic work is provided to expand on the workshop and provide a deeper level of education. If I had more time I would have liked to make these materials work more cohesively with one another, so that it truly feels like all the work came from the same campaign. Another way to improve it would be to create system where all the supplementary materials could be packed away into one folder/container system, so it would be easier to travel home with it.
Class critique for final project begins at 11:20 in our regular classroom. Complete project and bring any process materials that lead to a rich discussion. Consider how to talk about your project. What systems are at play? What did you learn by undertaking this project? This review is a precursor to your junior year review and your reflective essay.
Complete all of your work from this semester and bring to your junior year review. I encourage you to revisit projects where craft was not at a level that you wanted it to be.
Documentation of the following projects should be uploaded to the class website with the correct categories (below). Failure to upload your work will result in a loss of a letter grade.
In-class generative systems (15 minutes of Litter, 15 minutes of Left-Pointed photographs, 11×17 Poster)
Generative System of Choice
Final Project (with reflective essay in post)