monadologie day 12 & 13

I chose Camera B. The other one, Camera A seemed to be silently petulant around me. Together, they make up the 3-D stereoscopic video camera rig, that much later in the project will be exposed to whatever it is we come up with, so it will exist in trippy, migraine inducing, vertiginous stereoscopic 3-D. Nice.

I was just pointing it at Bonnie and Lina in the murky and dim VR Theatre while they watched different visualisations from the Centre’s recent work. Later I had to delete my entire iTunes to dump the video onto disk. No! 30 gig of music? Gone? Yes! (Lucky I have a backup, no?) So I am planning later in the week on buying a new external drive, I think 1/2 a terabyte would be enough, but as usual, I shall experience … disappointment.

Today we were working with a static rendering of the large scale structure of the universe, which for those of you who don’t hang around people who regularly say things like “weak gravitational lensing due to realistic cosmological distributions of dark matter” (no really, they do, I eavesdrop on the best conversations here) is of a size somewhere between 10kpc and 100Mpc, which in Star Wars terms is much, much, much further than the planet Princess Laea tried to send Grand Moff Tarkin to obliterate instead of Alderaan, which in light years is up to around 350 million light years, which makes our galaxy of 100,000 light years across look unmemorable and likely to make the church issue heretical edicts all over again, which all sounds like bluurrbluurrbluurr to you, so if you look at the photos below, and can see some of the tiny, tiny, blue dots in the black areas, well they’re about ten times the size of our galaxy, which contains around 200 to 400 billion stars. Just for reference, our sun is a star. Oh, and the rendering we were using is only a miniscule part of the universe. Feel insignificant yet? … reaaally tiny …

This is our third day in the Theatre, and it’s mostly going for coffee down the lane at this record shop run, I think by a rather nice French guy who makes tasty Chai Lattes and we sit outside and talk, then later sit on the floor of the Theatre and talk, and occasionally get up, put on some unfashionable 3-D glasses, they remind me of something Michael J. Fox would wear in Back to the Future, turn on the camera, play some Sunn0))) and do things that look mostly unlike dance.

I was watching some of the video tonight, cutting bits to learn tomorrow when we go into the studio, and was surprised by how much Bonnie and Lina’s movement changed in the last three days as I kept making their brains hurt with over-elaborate descriptions of various improvisational operations, and how this was slightly different from this other even though they look the same (making it up as I go along, I suppose).

It perhaps is coalescing into four, I guess to call, parts, or attributes. The first is a series of small phrases that come directly from these sessions in the VR-Lab. The second is a literal and/or incomprehensible reading of various papers, data, texts that either the visualisations we are using came from, or are completely separate. The third has something to do with the equations in the papers, I’m not sure what yet, and the fourth is a human response to each other.

Only the first is really choreographed, kind of like ‘initial conditions’, that will evolve once things get going. Everything else is, through a process of rigorously defining rules and procedures and stuff, … I really don’t like the word improvisation, it unfortunately implies in dance a certain laziness and flailing around without any purpose or method. I might say instead making it up as we go along.

Lots to talk about and read in the next week. I seem to be leaving home at 8 and getting home … at the other 8. Here’s the pictures. The text is there to make it look all sci-fi and futuristic, as if it needs any help.

monadologie day 11

We played in the VR Lab today. The Astrophysics Centre has 3-D Stereoscopic projectors and twin cameras for filming also (yes, we will be playing with those too later), and after almost a month of reading stuff, both here and over the holidays in Adelaide, it seemed like a good place to start. It has that “wow! oh that’s amazing” effect on everyone who sees it, stars and galaxies spinning, millions of years compressed into seconds.

Bonnie and I have been joined by Lina Limosani, whom we’ve known for years, though as usual are actually in the same room and city maybe twice in that time. She was choreographing in Ignition too, so it’s been only a couple of months since we last were in the same place. A lot of talking then, first at the new favourite coffee shop and record store run by the French guy who makes it feel like we’re in Europe, then once I’d grabbed masses of equipment, in the theatre.

“What am I going to do?” has become “I don’t know what I’ll do next, but this is what I’ll do now”. Lina and I spent yesterday at Napier St, again mostly talking, but trying to get familiar with all the improvisation techniques. I seem to be working with it at a level lately where every time I think about it or explain it I realise something new in it, where it can go, how it connects to other things, how it can be better thought in order to be more clear and coherent.

Once I worked out how to operate the system, we watched a bunch of visualisations of the large scale structure of the universe and others of galaxy formation and interaction. I can’t really talk about these too sensibly yet, so rather than pollute your mind with misinformation, I’ll try and explain what we see.

These visualisations are evolutions of systems over time. We particularly liked the one named, “Disrupting Dwarf”, which came from a Hubble Space Telescope picture of a distant galaxy a couple of years ago. Someone noticed a small, dwarf galaxy being consumed by the main galaxy, and so decided to model what might be happening. The visualisation is a small, fast moving globule that gets sucked through the disk of the galaxy, spins out the other side leaving a trail of debris that spirals back in, before it in turn plummets hubward, and bounces in ever decreasing arcs through the core, splattering and ejecting matter on each pass until it is entirely absorbed. Each bright dot that twists in agonisingly complex paths represents clusters of stars within the galaxy and dwarf. We can zoom in, rotate, speed up, slow down, stop and reverse time, all in trippy 3-D.

With our necessary 3-D glasses on, looking like alien hoodlums, a camera to capture it all, and Sunn0))) live in Le Chapelais playing, we spent a few hours trying to map this with all the techniques we’ve been working with. We started mostly with fingers and hands, and simple 9-point mapping and a bunch of point and line methods, keeping it simple is torturous when cascades into infinity almost immediately. Later it got more open, and … this stuff seems to build on itself, the more there is, the more there is.

The first day has been a rather exciting romp in science wonderland. I think it could go quite well from this, and the feeling or sense I’ve had of what it might look like seems to be vaguely accurate. The complexity though… Oh it’s going to be murder. We’re in the VR Lab all this week, with some time in a proper studio to put this into our bodies later in the week, and then…

I have a date with the State Library to slobber over some almost 300 year old texts from Gottfried Leibniz. mmm … rare book porn.

Some photos of what we were looking at and playing with.