By Martin Wong

The Diver

ARTIST BIO

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Martin (Marty) Wong is a Digital Producer & Mixed Media Artist based in Sydney, Australia.

 

Currently studying a Bachelor of Digital Media from UNSW Art and Design, a multidisciplinary approach to his artistry incorporates motion graphics, digital/analogue photography, performance and installation art practices.

 

Prior to 2009 Martin gained experience working on independent short/feature films and music videos with production roles ranging from Director/Producer, 1st Assistant Director, Continuity and Assistant Grip/Gaffer.

 

Since 2009 Martin has produced video content and set up projection installations for Sydney underground gay/queer club events including Bad Dog, Club Kooky and Woofclub. He’s a member of post-rock band Meniscus as their Video Jockey, mixing video live during performances and has successfully toured both nationally and internationally, playing alongside the likes of This Will Destroy You (USA),

Caspian (USA), Rosetta (USA), Dead Letter Circus (Aus) & sleepmakeswaves (Aus).

 

In 2013 he formed Tame the Pixels an artistic collaboration with fellow video artist Tolmie MacRae. Together they’ve been commissioned to produce works for the Sydney Opera House’s 40th Anniversary Concert, newtheatricals - The Addams Family Musical Opening Night Party and exhibit to the public at In the Night Garden festivals and Beams Festival.

 

His work has also been exhibited at Tortuga Studios and Monstrosity Gallery as part of Group Shows and contributed video for a performance by Karen Nielsen at

Pop International Gallery in New York.

 

In 2015 Martin undertook a Fine Arts Residency Program through Brand X.

 

Martin also works under the pseudonym urbanguerilla.

 

I create video projection based artworks using motion graphics and video production techniques combined with various materials I use as projection surfaces, including faille, tulle and lycra fabrics, public walls and the human body. My artistic practice has emerged from my mixed media and film background and also live performances with Sydney band Meniscus.

 

The subject matter and themes of my work have ranged from outer space, animals/sea creatures, and archival home videos to 3D captured point clouds, meditation and self-reflection. These vastly different subject matters and themes come about through my collaborations with visual artists, musicians and performance artists.

 

My work draws influence from contemporary painters Jeremy Geddes, Guy Denning, Kent Williams, video artists Bill Viola, Daniel Crooks and Yannick Jacquet, installation/light artists James Turrell, Jim Campbell and Ryoji Ikeda, as well as author Jack Kerouac.

 

The Diver, my most recent work was developed in response to my experiences traveling through the National Parks of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and the Integratron in California. During these trips I spent time in the wildness, camping, hiking, exploring nature. It also provide an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world and slip into a simpler existence that offered quiet moments of meditation and self-reflection.

 

Through my artistic works I endeavor to connect people through either a physical connection or through the metaphysical concept of the collective conscience. By way of experiencing the artwork, I aim to affect a part of the individual enough to have a resounding impact on the self and in turn the human collective.

 

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

WORK DESCRIPTION

The participant is encouraged to sit on the meditation mat and place the headphones over their ears. Through the action of placing on the headphones they consciously disconnect from the superficial and willingly engage with the artwork. The Diver’s obscured face and body helps the participant focus on the Diver’s physical motion, the slow paced movements coupled with the pulsing and resonating singing bowls facilitate in creating a sense of calm and relaxation.

 

Other than obscuring the actors face the Vintage Diver’s Suit is used to convey the feelings of isolation and empathy. The fabric projection screen gently moves and warps the image of the Diver, creating an additional movement that's both  reminiscent to distortion caused by water and also slowly moves like the Diver's own movements.

 

The Cosmonaut paintings of Jeremy Geddes and time spend in the national parks around Nevada/Utah/Arizona is a major influence of this video installation.

 

THE DIVER

Final Video

Audio Credit: © Copyright 2014 Integratron™ All Rights Reserved.

Installation Documentation

SPECIFICATIONS

  • A blacked out room approx. 6m x 8m
  • Single Channel Video (1024x768. Duration 19 minutes)
  • Synchronized Audio (Stereo)
  • Video Player (Laptop Computer running MadMapper to allow for keystoning)
  • VGA Cable
  • VGA to Thunderbolt Adapter
  • Audio Headphones
  • 3.5mm Stereo Socket Cable (5 metres)
  • Video Projector
  • Matt Faille Screen 1.2m x 2.4m
  • Meditation Mat
  • Spotlight directed at Meditation Mat

TIMELINE

March

Project idea is to shoot an actor in an Astronaut outfit appearing weightless in space. Project video onto transparent screen with 2 walls in background with animated images of landscapes. Reverse side of 2 walls has LED strips to shine light onto gallery wall, colours matching landscape images.

Initial Production Ideas:

 

  • Sony FS700 720p 400fps ($220 a day at Metroscreen)
  • Shoot actor jumping on small trampoline or jumping (limitation with jumping is weightless only at arc of jump due to leg movement, might have longer weightlessness using trampoline)
  • Possibility of dragging out slow motion further in post. Need to test quality of twixtor plugin for After Effects
  • Need to approach trapeze centre in Sydenham as possible location venue to use their safety gear and trampoline
  • Might be possible to set up truss to suspend actor and shoot at Contact Sheet, St Leonards

 

First Presentation Pitch Download

 

Quick Camera Test:

 

  • Got my hands on a Sony FS700 to run a quick test on its slow motion capabilities.
  • Shooting with Sony FS700 requires lots of light to eliminate noise artifacts. Did a test in the studio to see how well it shoots in slow motion.

Thoughts on transparent screen:

 

 

Thoughts on audio:

 

Singing bowls – meditational soothing sounds.

 

April

Melbourne band British India released their new album and the cover art looks like my installation. I’ve decided to change the Astronaut outfit to a vintage Diving Suit. Thematically this doesn’t change the concept and probably makes the visual aspect more interesting.

 

LED Strips arrived:

 

  • The LED strips, Power supply for LED Strips, DMX Controller arrived.
  • Things to remember: IP Address to connect to ArtNet (DMX Controller) is 192.168.1.200 and the netmask is 255.255.255.0
  • I test one strip of LEDs (50cm) and manage to get it working after figuring out the IP address for the DMX Controller.
  • The strips are individually assignable and will be program to match pixels taken from the video footage projected onto the walls.

 

Meeting with Defy:

 

  • Had meeting with Mark Inwood (acrobat/performance artist) regarding how to rig an actor to suspend for video shoot.

 

Requirements for Actor:

 

  • Core body strength to hold positions for extended periods of time.
  • To allow for a more seamless transition between each shot (camera only captures for 8 seconds then takes approx 15-20 seconds to encode video before allowing a new recording) they're required to hold as still as possible between shots.
  • Comfortable being suspended off the ground
  • Comfortable working in front of a camera
  • Bonus: Experience with rigging
  • Affordable

 

Sourced a Diving Suit:

 

“Today I head to Hero Frocks to have a look at the vintage diving suit that I'd like to use for the costume in my artwork. Fortunately the suit is large and would accommodate most people, bearing in mind that a short person might look too baggy. The metal shoes aren't practical for my purpose so I might need to find an alternate (possibly no shoes) or make them from styrofoam or some other material. The diving helmet is amazing! But neither of our heads could fit into it and finding someone who's not to short, has a small head and is fit enough to carry the weight of the suit/helmet and hold poses for long durations isn't likely.

 

Diving helmet dilemma:

 

I think finding someone suitable to wear the helmet is a long shot so one possible solution is the first shoot the actor in the suit then try to emulate their movement while shooting the helmet separately. This would involve roto-scoping out the actor’s head in post production then compositing on the helmet. This would create a lot of extra work on post-production and the resulting video might not look very believable if the lighting isn't matching, nor the movement of the actor and helmet in relation to each other. I think the most efficient solution for both time and visual aesthetic would be to have the person without a helmet and with their eyes closed and the helmet appears to be floating beside them.”

 

 

Twixtor Tests:

 

  • Twixtor is an After Effects plugin that enables you to slow down footage by creating new frames, making the footage play back smoother.
  • Really impressed with the tests I did with twixtor, worked better than I had expected.

 

Conclusion made from test:

 

 • I won't need to hire the Sony FS700 from Metroscreen to shoot at 400fps.

 • Video footage shot at 25fps can be slowed down effectively using the Twixtor plugin for After Effects.

 • Video footage needs to be shot on a green screen because roto-scoping will be very time consuming and may not produce the required quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Projector Tests – Parallax Effect

 

“I marked up the walls in my studio with tape to help visualise the actual size of the walls I'll be building, after projecting some images it became apparent they'll need to be taller. Initially they were going to be 2m but from a distance the corner where the two walls meet appears much shorter (perspective) and once the transparent material is hung in front of them, I'd prefer only the walls be visible through the transparency and not the top of the walls.

 

With 3D video projection mapping being a relatively new medium, I haven't come across to much information with regards to how the content is created. I'm able to keystone/warp video to the shape of physical surfaces but haven't previously explored the technique of creating animations or images that don't simply sit on the surface of the wall but take into account the perspective of the viewer.  I'm trying to manipulate the perspective of the images so the viewer doesn't see the walls and how they skew the image as it gets further from the viewer.”

 

 

 

"For my project I'll be using 2 video projectors to cover the surface of the walls with one projector being used for each wall. I've opt to use two projectors because their native resolution is only 1024x768 each so the pixels are more noticeable if I use only 1 to cover both surfaces. With two the pixels are still noticeable but I'm not sure whether I can borrow 1080p projectors or have the cash to hire them.

 

For this reason the viewer won't be standing where the image is being projected from, so they'll see a skewed image, as demonstrated in the diagrams above and below. This means I'll need to create the images being projected in such as way that the viewers position in the room is taken into account."

May

Greenscreen Tests:

 

Results:

Need brighter lights on the screen, was difficult to key out as it started removing part of the actors clothing and distorting colours. Brighter lights will also allow for a lower ISO. Shooting at 1000 left to many noise artifacts.

Projection Foil Tests:

 

3M sent me 4 samples of their projection foil to test and although their products are to expensive to be an option for this project I wanted to see how the different variations compared with each other.

 

The 4 variations:

 

- Transfilm (Transparent)

- Frost

- Mirror

- Grey

 

These 4 variations appear to be the same options most projection foil manufacturers make.

 

For the purposes of my project transfilm was the only one that was suitable.

When applied to a sheet of glass (I’ll be using perspex for cost and weight) it was the only one that you could clearly see through

and I want the projected image to look like a hologram in front of a larger image.

 

The problem encountered with this type of film was the glass/foil created unwanted reflections.

The first was onto the walls behind it which is where I’ll be projected more imagery and this isn’t acceptable.

The second reflection was where it passed through the glass/foil and onto either the ground/wall/ceiling depending on the placement of the video projector.

 

As a result of these tests I’ll need to reconsider the placement of the short throw video projector being used on the transparent foil.

I feel it needs to on the ground so need may need to cut a hole in the base of the wall large enough for the lens to project the image through.

It can’t be infant of the walls between them and the transparent foil because it’ll obstruct the image being projected on the wall and I wanted it as hidden as possible.

June

Tortuga Studios in St Peters have recently renovated the first floor of their warehouse, creating some artist studios, hot desks and a larger photographic studio (Studio Twenty-Three) they're calling The Aerie.

 

Tortuga Studios backs onto Hutchinson Street where they've held a street event for 3 years running called 'In the Night Garden'.

For the last 2 years I've collaborated with a friend and created some video projections to exhibit on the night. Due to this working relationship with Tortuga Studios they're going to provide Studio Twenty-Three for me to use for the video shoot at mates rates. Using my current studio space in St Peters proved problematic during the test shoot (green screen) because other people were working in the space and I didn't have total control over the lighting in the room.

Colorado River - Nevada/Arizona

 

Integratron - Landers, California

Zion National Park - Utah

Valley of Fire - Nevada

July

Sound Bath 2.0 CD:

 

The organisation who maintain The Integratron have kindly allowed me to use their recording of the singing bowls for my project. This will save me a great deal of effort sourcing singing bowls to record myself. The facility where the recording was made (inside The Integratron) is intrinsically linked to the concepts being presented in my artwork and I believe being able to credit them with providing the recording will help strengthen the work.

 

LED Setup:

 

I’ve soldered and setup the RGB LED Strips and been able to configure them to change colour based on a video feed.

 

It’s possible to assign a section of video to each LED so that the predominant colour within that section is the colour the LED will shine. Within the software interface I’m able to adjust the frequency of the LEDs response to the changes in the video and the overall brightness, this will help smooth out the transition between colours creating a more relaxing feeling.

 

 

I had some problems getting the DMX controller to communicate with my laptop, it took a lot of experimenting to figure out the correct order of how to correctly plug in and power the various pieces of equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio Update:

 

The Integratron CD has arrived (to a friend in the US because they won’t deliver to Australia) and I’ve been able to get a high quality digital copy to use. I’m not completely satisfied with the audio so I’ll be adding extra layers of sound (more singing bowls) to accompany the recording. These extra recordings have been acquired from www.freesound.org and I’ll use either Ableton Live or ProTools to mix them together.

 

 

MDF Panels:

 

MDF panels have been acquired.

 

The intend was to purchase MDF panels from Bunnings at a cost of $24 each ($94 for 4 panels) but I happen to come across a skip full of used MDF panels that were being thrown away. I’ve salvaged some that I can sand, patch & repaint to re-purpose for my project.

 

I’ll need to construct support beams to make them free standing and have latches so they can connect together. These brackets to hold up these MDF panels will most likely made from wood salvaged from pallets to save buying timber.

 

Transparent Foil Update:

 

Still need to source a piece of plexiglass/perspex to apply this transparent foil too. Will also find a professional screen tinting company to apply the foil to the perspex to minimise the amount of dust or air bubbles.

 

Lighting/Camera Test & Actor:

 

Today I heading into the studio to test some lighting configurations. Although these aren’t the lights I’ll be using for the video shoot, I wanted an understanding of how best to set them up to achieve the feel I wanted in the final piece.

 

Initially I was planning to shoot on a green screen to create the transparency around the subject for projecting onto the holographic foil. It’s dawn on me that video projectors don’t project black, so if I shoot the subject on a black background it’ll appear transparent already. This makes things much easier and I feel will help create a better 3 dimensional illusion.

 

For the camera I’ve switched back to using the Sony FS700 due to it’s slow motion feature that allows for 720p resolution 400fps shooting.

 

The lights (65w & 120w) weren’t bright enough but I’ll be using a redhead kit for the shoot that are significantly brighter. I’ll also have more control of the fall off using barn doors and there won’t be as much reflection in the studio (I was shooting in a room with white walls which reflected a lot of light).

 

Vix Brown who performed in these tests will be the actor in the Diving Suit.

August

LED Light Update:

 

The rest of the LED Strips arrived today so I now have all required components for this aspect of the installation.

September

Video Shoot:

 

This evening I shot the video footage of the Diver moving in slow motion.

 

  • SONY FS700, 720p 400fps
  • Tungsten Lighting
  • Arri 650w, 350w and a few LED panels

Preparing Diver footage:

 

  1. Apply Twixtor to slow down footage (After Effects).
  2. Apply DeNoiser to reduce noise artifacts (After Effects)
  3. Colour Correction (Premiere Pro)
  4. Assemble video into sequence (Premiere Pro)
  5. Assemble audio into sequence (Premiere Pro)
  6. Export (Adobe Media Encoder)

 

 

Installation Update:

 

After meeting with Jamil I've decided the 2 walls and LED lights behind the sheet of perspex will be removed from the installation. The video footage of the diver looks fantastic and having these walls and lights will be a distraction.

 

 

October

Projection Foil and Perspex:

 

I initially wanted to hire a professional to apply the projection foil to the perspex sheet but end up getting a few friends to help me do it myself.

Not completely sure whether I was able to get out all the air bubbles because the underside of the perspex still has the brown covering to stop it being scratched.

 

Two holes have been drilled along one edge of the shorter side where a D-Shackle will be attached to allow for either chain (not preferred) or nylon cord will be used to suspend it from the ceiling.

Projection Test on Perspex/Projection Foil:

 

"This evening I setup the video projector to test how well the light was picked up by the projection foil. Unfortunately it's not working as well as expected. The projected image does appear on the perspex sheet but it's not as bright as I had hoped. Due to the subject matter and effect I'm trying to achieve this isn't such a big problem. The light passing through the perspex is being projected onto the wall behind the room and it's difficult to prevent this happening. I tried hanging black theatre drapes behind the perspex that did absorb some of the light, but the image was still noticeable.

 

As a result of these tests I'm considering using a white material as the projection surface and not perusing the perspex sheet and projection foil."

 

 

Test onto cotton sheet:

 

"After the disappointment of the perspex test, I set up a cotton sheet in my bedroom to see how the projections would look. Overall I was happy with the clarity and there was no bleed through the fabric onto the wall behind. The projections also show up on the reverse side of the sheet so rear projection is possible."

Fabricate material screen:

 

"Today after meeting with Jamil I head to Greenfields to look at possible materials to construct a screen with. Jamil suggest knit jersey lining but I opt for Matt Faille because it wasn’t a stretch material and would be easier to sew.

 

I already had pieces of wooden dowel from previous projects so no need to source that."

Link: Final Audio/Video

Link: Final Installation

Setup at Studio Twenty-Three:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to the following for helping shape this project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tolmie MacRae

Tame the Pixels

Integratron

Vix Brown

Amy Croucher

Brian Martinez

Geoff Bracken (ACME Framing)

Daniel Oreskovic

The Aerie (Tortuga Studios)

Jamil Yamani (UNSW Art & Design)

 

The Diver

© Copyright 2015 Martin Wong