Inner Monologue


  • A World of Color and Touch

    Once upon a time, I was sitting in a middle school English classroom, when a classmate of mine asked a peculiar question. "Did we dream in black & white in the past?" This of course was brought on due to a class discussion on black & white television and photography. And almost 15 years later this question still baffles me as I think about how disconnected we are from the humans in the past in understanding just how similar they are were to us. We look at vintage photographs of the early 20th century, and imagine that those people lived in a completely different world from us, that Victorian people were all stuffy and serious. All entirely based on how we perceive the medium available at the time. But the reality of it is that people have always been people, and the past isn’t really as far away as we think it is. Which is something I'd be interested in exploring.

    Now, how does this tie in at all to Roman Villas and tactile digital worlds? Simple. The world has always been full of color, rich, decadent color that we as humans have tried to capture. So isn't it a little weird that we always perceive the height of Greek and Roman art as these colorless marble sculptures? Many reasons are attributed to why many of these sculptures were scrubbed clean of the vibrant colors they once held. But the truth remains, that to fully immerse yourself in a scene of what would have been a home in the height of the Roman Empire, you needed color. 

    I've come to realize just how much color impacts how we relate to media. While my initial interest in this project specifically dealt with the touch aspect of these objects, I'm noticing that mapping color to the models of these sculptures and giving them the vibrancy they would have held in their prime will also be a great gateway into creating an immersive environment. A perfect example I've seen recently was at the Roman Baths in Bath, England. Behind a glass case you can see a full-size, gilt bronze statue of the goddess Sulis Minerva. Near the statue however, there is a cast replica of the same head with a sign reading PLEASE TOUCH, encouraging visitors to engage with model and bringing them closer to the past. There have been various projects to scan and recreate models from these crumbling artifacts that we hold on to, and I think these two concepts can be combines into one.

    While a bit far fetched from where this project might go, I rendered below how I would imagine recreating a scene with a fragmented piece of a statue could be simulated. A base body could hold the 3D printed replica in its correct placement. Once the headset was put on, the rest of the body could be filled around the body form, before then adding the rest of the world and the color of the sculpture itself. I'm still figuring out if this project should be a VR or AR undertaking, but we'll see where it goes. 

  • The Roman Villa

    Having come to graduate school from an exhibit design background, I was thrilled when Professor Karen Mathews approached our Building Virtual Worlds class at the University of Miami for her latest project. I've been interested in seeing what applications VR/AR can have in the real world beyond gaming and the general novelty. So when she came in and proposed enhancing the museum experience with VR I was right on board.

    Her class of Greek and Roman Art is currently in the process of scanning various artifacts at the Lowe Art Museum on campus, with the hopes of creating digital models and then 3D printed replicas of these Roman objects. Her proposal was to find someone who would be interested in working with her class to create a VR experience that would play off these objects and give them historical context within the museum.

    Now, with museums and VR there is one thing they have in common. And that is that they lack the ability to touch. And that is the barrier I hope to cross with my proposal for this project. Having had gone through the Pompeii Exhibit curated by the Soprintendenza di Archaeologica Napoli e Pompei, I distinctly remember just wanting to touch all the frescos on the walls. The exhibit was designed to make you feel as if you were walking through the city of Pompeii itself, but you could not quite reach out. 

    My proposed design for how to showcase all the work is encompassed in creating a small room where the 3D printed objects would be placed. Either on pedestals or tables to mimic where they would be in the 3D scene. The room would then also be adorned with a raining and some columns, everything would have to be extremely secured down to prevent anything from falling if people run into them. This might look a bit strange to someone coming in, until they put on their VR/AR headset and the room suddenly expands into a 20 B.C.E. Roman Villa. Now these headsets would need to be calibrated to match up exactly with the layout of the room, but the idea is that the objects you see in the headset, you would be able to touch in the room. So the sculpture of Eros, or the amphora on the table would no longer be within a glass case, or behind a screen, but right at your fingertips.

    The world of the Villa itself could be expanded upon to any amount, there could be animations of people going about their day out in the peristilio, or going in and out of doors. The possibilities are pretty endless. But the caveat would always be that the headset would need to be reset from the same position each time to ensure the user is always seeing what aligns with their physical location in the room. This is of course assuming that a headset of 6DOF can be readily available and the project moves along enough by the end of the semester that such a thing can happen.

    My back up plan is to remove that rich element of touch, but still keep the expansion of the room element. For that I would use a headset that only has 3DOF, mark a location on the floor that aligns with the camera placement in the scene and invite users into the virtual version of the scene. 

  • Virtual Tarot

    TAROT was a project I began in the Fall of 2018 as a part of Kim Grinfeder's Intro to Prototyping class at the University of Miami. We had received the prompt for a project to create a prototype for a Virtual Reality experience that allowed a user to have a "religious experience". I was really into self divination at the time and wanted to explore experiences that were much more introspective, rather than the grand nature of places like churches or mosques.

    Virtual Reality is a very intimate experience for a user, and I wanted to focus on enhancing a type of experience that was of a similar nature, so I decided to explore tarot card and tarot readings. 

    The first concept was a simple one, and what remained through the first prototype. A user stands in the middle of a room and is surrounded by all 78 cards in a full tarot deck. They then select however many cards they wish, then one by one they become immersed in the world that is depicted in the card. While various artists depict the the imagery on the cards differently, there are always key elements on each card that must be included. For example in The World, a naked woman hovers or dances above the earth holding a staff in each hand, surrounded by a green wreath, being watched by various creatures. So all of these elements would be animated into this world that the user summons by picking the card. They would be then left to interpret what the card was trying to tell them, much like one does when interpreting the card during a normal reading. 

    Mackenzie and Laura Miller joined into the project, and as a team we developed the concept further over the next few weeks. Laura developed what would become our interface and design elemets, while Mackenzie handled our audio. I handled the concept development and world building for the prototype. 

    The final prototype as it stands asks the users a few questions like, how many cards to they want to draw, and what question they have for the cards before loading the first room with the deck. 

    Once a user touches or select the deck, the cards unfurl and surround them in a circle. 

    The users must the select whatever amount they had chosen in the beginning and the cards will glow when selected. Once all the cards are chosen, the reamining will fly away and the selected cards will be reshuffled into a small deck in the order they were chosen. The first card will flip over, this will then prompt the room to fall away reveal the world that is within the card. Our plan here is for a "booming voice of god" to then narrate when the generic meaning of the card is, and then allow the user to internalize the meaning based on whatever question it was they asked. For the prototype we chose the 8 of Cups as our card as it was a very dramatic scene in the card and easy to depict. 

    In the Eight of Cups, we see a cloaked figure taking off to a barren land leaving behind eight golden cups. The world itself was built entirely will low poly assets from the Unity Store, the scene was exported as a 360 photo from the camera view and then the interface of the cards was ovelaied on Sketch. To preview the scenes we loaded them into the GoPro VR Player app and took screengrabs of the environments.

    As part of my next class which is Building Virtual Worlds, I wanted to expand on this project and build it out so it would actually be interactive and we would be able to move from scene to scene. Eventually I would like to create all 72 worlds so the game is fully playable as a tarot game. But for now I'll settle for adding one or two more worlds to the deck. 

  • Guess It's Been Some Time

    In the rush of getting myself through the last semester at college, graduating, entering the real world, and finding a job. Well I guess this blog was just left behind, but that's what happens when life happens. You stop worrying about cataloguing it all, and just focus on living it. Who knows.

    Well it's been five months since I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. There are many who I have not spoken to since I got on a plane out of Pittsburgh on May 19th. I'm working full time as an art director, and have no real responsabilities to spend this income in. So I've thrown everything that I am into making some sweet art. 

    I emptied the garage and turned it into my studio. It's a place for painting, sewing, sculpting, crafting, photographing, and basically the perfect place for someone as all over the place as myself. I've been going very hard on the costume side as of late. A lot of people want them from me, and I've really been improving. So I guess I've got that going for me.

  • First Pieces

    So this is pretty revolutionary (in my own little world anyway).

    Tomorrow (tonight I guess) is the opening night for Dance/Light here at Carnegie Mellon. It's described as an " extravaganza of dance performance with lighting and costume design". There are 24 dance pieces in the show, and I designed the costumes for #9, We Carry On. I say this is revolutionary, because this is the first event of this nature that I've designed costumes for. Sure I 've designed for Greek Sing in the past, and make costumes all the time. But I'm just really excited to have my name in a program coming out of the School of Drama. 


  • Costuming Craze

    It looks like I'll be heading into a costuming frenzy these next few weeks. 

    Not that my life isn't usually a costuming frenzy, but, this will be a bit more extreme

    In January the Carnegie Mellon University Shcool of Drama will be hosting Dance Lights, a collaborative performance between the lighting department, costume department, and student choreographers. I somehow managed to worm myself into costume design classes this year, and was hence allowed to design for one of the performances. I'll be making the costumes for my piece over this holiday break, so that's 5 costumes to make. 

    I also picked up 3 commissions over the fall that I said I would construct over the break as well. 

    One month, 8 costumes? Bring it on. 

    I did go get the swatches today for my commission pieces though. It was a hectic adventure, but my swatch sheets are done. 

  • On A Fresh Start

    I haven't really written a blog entry in years.

    Not like, this is an old blog that's being brough back. But just, I haven't posted long declarations of my inner musings for some time.

    Mayebe this will do me some good. Who knows?

    All I do know is, I have one semester left at Carnegie Mellon University before I'm sent out into the "real world". And it's about time I figure out what my contribution to the world is to be. 

    I started making to-do lists this summer, they'd be taped to the side of my bed so I could keep track of how much work I was accomplishing. I'm not one for usually following a plan, but at least hacking things away with a thick black sharpie was motivation enough for me to continue working. 

    I got out of the habbit when I returned to CMU in August, maybe that's why I wasn't as productive as I had hoped. But being back home again, if only for a bit, made me want to get back into the swing of things. The new 6 pages were added last night, and are what I wish to accomplish before I return to Pittsburgh in January.