The Studio of Eric Valosin

Friday, September 4, 2015

New Art for the New Art Group

The New Art Group, a NJ based artist collective, was recently asked to curate an exhibition in which each member invited an artist whose work they felt was influential to their practice. I'm truly honored to have invited by Paul Pinkman to exhibit along side him in the 2015 New Art Group Invitational at the Watchung Art Center!

As I will coincidentally be showing a projection negation project at the Arts Center again in January in Obstructions, curated by Caitlin Albright, I wanted to show a different side of my work for this exhibition.

For()Loop Drawings

I have been working on a new series of drawings turning circuit diagrams from a forthcoming installation into cosmological diagrams, and I thought this might be a great opportunity to give the first two in the series a bit of a test run:

For()Loop Meditation 0.1 (Prototype)
Read more about it at this blog post
For()Loop Meditation 0.2 (Prototype)
read more about this one on this blog post


Paul was particularly interested in my projection work and how it dialogues with his work, so I began thinking about how I could put together something that would fit in the context of an exhibition otherwise filled mostly with traditional work, as well as something that would be pretty flexible installation wise.

After Without_Withinmy exhibition up at Andover Newton Theological School last November in which I mapped a dual-projector interactive installation into 8 frosted windows, I had been toying with the idea of excerpting each window as its own piece. I thought this might prove the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

After much deliberation and a few trips to home depot, I was well on my way creating W(ith)indow 2,  based off the second window in the series of 8. Read about its creation at this post

W(ith)indow 2
click here to read more

In Dialogue

Its been fascinating to me to see how my work dialogues with Paul's. We've had fantastic conversations about our work (and artwork in general), but I hadn't really thought much about the overlaps in our practices until he was generous enough to invite me into this show.

He is showing two remarkable paintings from his Truth/Lies series:

Paul XO Pinkman

Paul XO Pinkman
Though perhaps starting and ending in different places, our practices intersect with very similar relational philosophies. In our work I think Paul and I are both wrestling with contemporary notions of the self, especially acknowledging the layers of mediation between perception and reality (especially see his selfie series). We both embrace the ever present “screens” that facilitate our experiences (spiritual, phenomenological, psychological, or otherwise). Paul’s work, too, is not contented with passive viewer interactions, instead urging viewers to move in and out, back and forth, as the images cohere, fall apart, and cohere again in various layers of physical and pictorial depth. In a way, we both strive physically, temporally, and pictorially, to achieve stability while avoiding stasis.

I hope to see you at the opening (disclaimer: I will be a bit late, but I will be there!). Should be a very interesting show, and the New Art Group is always good for great, thought provoking conversations!

Without_Within, W(ith)indows

Last November (2014) I completed an installation called Without_Within (Follow link for video) for a solo show up at Andover Newton Theological School of the same name. It consisted a dual-projector interactive projection mapping project filling 8 frosted windows.

Ever since, I'd been toying with the idea of excerpting each of the 8 windows as their own series of projects. I dubbed them W(ith)indows (riffing on the interiority/exteriority themes of the prior project)

This past month I was invited into the 2015 New Art Group Invitational by Paul Pinkman, and I felt this was a perfect opportunity to give it a try. After looking over my past project, I decided to start out with the second window in the series, which I thought had a nice balance to it and would put up little fight as a stand alone bit of code.

Cracking the Code

The hard part was essentially done - all the coding for the imagery and the interactive hot zones was already in place from Without_Within. All I had to do (ha!) was reformulate all the proportions and coordinates, moving the imagery from it's mapped location in the corner of the first projector screen to centered and filling the whole screen.

My mask for the first four windows. The imagery that filled the top right white square was what I needed to excerpt and give center stage

About 1/4 of my grasping at basic algebra, concocting formulas to convert each of the 130+ coordinates to their new location without messing up their proportions.

Once I got the proportions cooperating, It was time for a site visit to start figuring out what this installation was going to look like when it got off of my computer screen.

Some interesting constraints arose, in that locations for a ceiling mount were limited, and the gallery was a bit particular about what we could/couldn't do to their walls (though not unreasonably so). The rest of the exhibition was, incidentally, mostly traditional work and I felt like mine needed to be in dialogue with that format (which is partially why I chose to try this project out, which I thought might be nice as a sort of picture frame/light box/faux window)

But it became apparent that the piece needed to be roughly 3 ft wide at most, and I had about 6.5 feet of throw distance to work with for my projector mount.

With installation time limited, I wanted to make the project as easily scalable as possible. Just in case physically resizing and keystone correcting the projection wasn't enough, I wanted to be able to digitally resize the imagery without having to rework 130 algebraic equations on the spot.

So back to the sandbox:

With a bit of variable gymnastics and trial and error, I was able to algorithmically link each coordinate to last, so that a change in one number would cascade down change each other number accordingly.

By inputing the desired pixel height of the project, it would automatically rescale all 130+ other coordinates in proportion
 But that left it oriented in the corner, which I thought might leave an ugly projection falloff if the masked off extra bits all fell on one side of the image. So I did a little pushMatrix()/popMatrix() translation magic and coded some black rectangles that would automatically center the image and mask off the exterior falloff.


centered and masked
Done and done! Now to make this thing exist in physical space...


In keeping with the theme of ambiguous interior/exterior relationships from Without_Within, I thought it might be an interesting format to build the "window" to look like a light box, but with the light coming from without rather than within (via projection). So I visited my local art supply store (Home Depot) and picked up some wood and plexiglass.

I also had the presence of mind, having fought with countless pedestals and projector mounts in the past, to finally spring for some right angle clamps and a nail gun. ...I'm not actually sure how I managed to get this far without them, really!

constructing the front lip of the frame that would hold in the plexi

Insert Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt

I don't know why, but I've always found joint compound to be the most satisfying part of a woodworking project!
I frosted the glass and put it on top of a white masonite board in order to get as crisp and bright a projection surface as possible, but wanted to make sure to retain the gloss of the plexi to make it feel distinctly like something between a window and a screen.

Flipping the frame face down, I laid down the plexi and masonite and fixed them in place with some handy glazier points I had left over from framing a drawing, and then reinforced the whole shebang with a wooden crossbar pressing it all down flat.

And finally I primed and painted it, and wired the back for hanging!

A side note - I'm always looking for those interesting accidental properties of a project that can turn into further studio experiments - as I tested out my new light box projection screen, I found this nice double image oddity when projecting through the frosted plexi floated a distance above the white surface behind it:


Back at the gallery, it was go time. Time for me to put all this on-the-fly scalability to the test. The first task was to set up the Kinect sensor in the corner of the room where it could view people's interactions, and get all the wiring neatly in place. With that in place, Paul was nice enough to help build a projector mount that would accommodate the odd ceiling.

suspended by cargo straps from the AC ducts and a makeshift scenery rail, it comfortably holds my projector and Mac Mini, along with al the wiring and some glued wooden shims to get the right downward angle.

Kinect hidden in the right corner, Lightbox frame and drawings ready to be hung 

As it turned out, my scalable projection not only worked perfectly, but was entirely unnecessary! I was able to keystone correct the image to fit it to the frame perfectly without ever having to touch the proportions of the imagery itself! Oh well, at least I now have a strategy for the future!

W(ith)indow 2 in its final form!

The imagery consists of recursive repetitions (as if in a two way glass "infinity mirror") captured from 3 zones of physical space within the gallery. Conceptually, I was interested in the idea of visually de-centering the recursive images, as if pulling the center of the self outside of the self and giving the viewer a perspective (or multiple perspectives) outside of himself. Then the colors of each viewer can commingle in a relational enactment of digital color theory. The self become located within and without, intermixed with the selves of others. The viewer stands both inside and outside the window, both inside the light box and outside depending on wether the inside is demarcated by the frame or by the source of the light.

I hope you'll be able to come experience it in person at the exhibition!