BØN541 v3.0

BØN541 v3.0 is the third in my BØN541 series, exploring the form of bonsai trees, using recycled & salvaged materials.

This work was created to be a setpiece for the 2018 staging of Rent, the musical, by Matt Ward Entertainment, at QPAC Brisbane. It is the largest work I’ve produced so far, and is constructed primarily from corrugated plastic water pipe, which is suspended using the truss and chain from my 2012 work Reconfigure.

The work features three major parts:

The play’s designer provided a bunch of old car hubcaps as a material she wanted featured, as well as decorations for the branches, in the form of aluminium cans cut into flower-like shapes, which the cast and crew produced. The designer also provided icicle (fairy) lights, to match the look of the hanging points of light I had included in my VR-based design.

Aside from that, the actual form of the work, the construction solutions and the materials from which it was made, were my responsibility.


Background of the Project:

I was approached by the designer of the play, who had seen my earlier work BØN541 v2.0 and wanted something similar for the Xmas tree that is created by a character in the play. The designer had a goal of involving “real” fine artists on the project, on account of the play being, in aspects, celebration of the 1980s New York art scene.

My initial idea was to build a welded steel armature of triangular cells, almost like 1980s-era computer graphics, into which various junk could be threaded. This was my first option, since welded steel is the only way to get the necessary combination of spannable distance, thinness and (relatively) light weight. Unfortunately, the production lacked the budget to spin up this process.

Bamboo Version

The next idea I proposed, was to use dozens of long stalks of bamboo, in place of a traditional tree trunk. I also developed the base in response to feedback that the specific shape of the base of BØN541 v2.0 was a highly desired part of the project. This would be both cheap, and solve the engineering problem, since bamboo is self-supporting.

However, the response was that it wasn’t “metal” enough, and that the design was being kept very literal to the script, the tree being specifically referred to as made of metal.

From these constraints, came my eventual solution – to use the hanging infrastructure I had already created for 2012’s Reconfigure, to create a vertically-suspended version of 2014’s BØN541 v2.0.

Coincidentally, at this time, I was working on a Virtual Reality project at the Cooroy Library makerspace, and so I was able to use this new VR toolset to actually design the work at life-size:

The choice of materials was dictated by budget – we couldn’t afford the stainless steel braided pipe used for the other BØN541 series works, but I realised there was something I had worked with previously – agricultural water pipe, which I had used when creating my 2011 sculpture This?

Sprayed silver, it would have a metallic appearance (in a Dr. Who sort of way), and the corrugations provide a way to secure the hanging points so that they can’t slip along its length.

So, with a decision on materials, and a clear vision on the form of the work, I was ready to begin production.


Construction:

Building the base.

Strengthening the truss.

truss
Upgraded, strengthened and complete.

Creating the trunk.

Packing everything away for bumpin.


I did this project for free, and loaned some rather expensive equipment to the production, because I wanted to see it succeed.

I wish the show well, and hope that my contribution is acknowledged.

Special thanks to the QPAC people I worked with – a brilliant, professional rigging team who got my work hoisted and in place at the Cremorne Theatre.


2019 – Week 2

Did a bunch of work on the collected edition of Surfing The Deathline this week. It’s been interesting, revisiting macOS’ Automator software to try and build out my process for processing images, and comparing the quality of images.

I had managed to create a practical demonstration of pulling the textboxes out of the images, and putting them on a different layer in the EPUB. It worked, but seems to be really slow in practice, especially on my older iPad Air. The goal was to make the text layer something that can be toggled on and off, with an eventual goal to make the sketch layer something that can be toggled on and off.

I may just go ahead and do it, as a tech demo, to see if I can.

Where I’m at now is that I output each page from InDesign, using a script that outputs separate pages as individual pdfs, then I have an Automator action which has been made into a Finder service. So, I just select all the PDF pages, right click, choose the service workflow, and then the operating system processes every PDF to an image file, resizes it, and then saves it out to a different directory as a PNG file.

It’s completely removed Photoshop from the later process of the file, which was what I previously needed to create the PNG files.

The working week ended with discovering some of my photos from the Drone racing days had ended up in an article on the national broadcaster’s website. Unfortunately I hadn’t been told they were going to be used, and they weren’t credited to me. So, some quick emails to the ABC, and it was all sorted.


2019 – Week 1

A final week of holidaying, before getting into the year proper. I made a pretty significant decision with regards to the next update to my EPUB comics, and how to evolve them.

It’s going to involve significantly reworking all my original Photoshop files, as well as all my InDesign files, but will result in a structural separation of text and art onto separate layers in the EPUB. The result will be that text can be toggled on and off, different versions of artwork can be toggled on and off, independent of text, and background gradients on pages can be specified in HTML, and changed without regenerating the page art.

As with most things, it involves more time spent on setting things up in the first place, but sees greater flexibility and power to make changes down the road .

I’m starting to have some solid ideas about what this year will be. I will hold back on other people’s projects, and devote my time to my own. I’ll try to be as much stuff out of my storage space as possible, so that I can make it a useful working storage space, and I’m going to set up a welding bay in my back yard, to finally get on with making my ethernet sculptures.

2018 was in many ways, a year of sorrow. I’m going to make this year better, if I can.


2018 – Week 52

A week of time off, and enforced doing nothing. Friends around for dinner on the Saturday. The one worklike creative aspect was discovering that I can output layers from InDesign with transparent backgrounds, which might make it easier to process my comic art at higher quality for EPUB output.


2018 – Week 51

Some bad news this week, but it’s embargoed until next year.

I spent some time messing around with data backups, having to replace an existing backup drive because my backup set was larger than its capacity. Time Machine is such a junk solution for anything other than very simple requirements, and so many solutions to its problems involve “wipe your backup and start again from scratch”, which defeats the point of its use as a historical versioning backup system.


2018 – Week 50

A broken and confused week, as construction around the house messed with my sleep pattern. Progress continued on the SDL collected version, and on Thursday I had a meeting with the Library to talk about my next Artist In Residence project.

Friday, the replacement rail for my pano head arrived, and it’s a secondhand-looking part, with clear wear & tear. It’s so disappointing to have spent ~$900 on a pano head, then another $35 on postage to get a $15 upgrade because one of the parts wasn’t correct for the job, and now that $50 exchange exercise turns out to look used.

Anyway, the distributor seems to have been willing to sort it out, they contacted the factory in Hong Kong, and they’re going to send me a new replacement once they get it in stock, and I can keep the current one, which means I can shoot in the meantime. It’s all worked out in the end, thankfully.

Sunday weather.

2018 – Week 49

Continuing work on the collected edition of Surfing The Deathline, I’ve made some progress on adding a couple more pages to the start of part 2, which always had a slightly rough opening, on account of it originally being halfway through a scene in a single-volume book.

I’ve had some progress on the new pano head – of which I had to return a part. It’s costing around $50 extra all up, but I’m going to get it all sorted. The problem was that the top rail wasn’t long enough for my 14-24 lens. So, I had to return the rail, and get them to send me a new part. It’s annoying because the American company that sells it has an option in their purchasing process to specify the longer top rail, but they don’t give information that would lead you to believe you need it for that lens.

I also had some progress on a problem I’ve had with my 14-24 lens since day one – it tends to back-focus. So, you focus on a point, and it ends up being softer than detail a few inches behind it. I did some experiments, dialling in some autofocus fine tuning, and it’s made a pretty dramatic difference.

Focussed in the red square, sharpest each side.

Part of playing around with this, was getting more experience in with my speedlight – I really need to shoot with it more. Though, I’ve also realised the battery for my camera needs replacing.

The tiniest bug in the world.

2018 – Week 48

A week of admin stuff (aren’t they all?), culminating in the launch of the renovated Noosa Library, with its new Makerspace, where I was taking people through the VR station.

My work C45C4D3 is on the wall in the space. Though we still have some gremlins to work out with the way it’s hung.

Work-wise, I’ve spent a bit of this week constructing a complete, collected-edition version of Surfing The Deathline. It’s coming along well, and I think I’ve solved a problem of how to package it, while keeping all the individual covers intact, within the larger document.


2018 – Week 47

A recovery week, not doing much. Picked up tools from the library, and did a bunch of admin emails. Didn’t leave the house for days.

The sound deadening fins went in to the library, they weren’t installed the way I’d been told they were going to be done, so the design I’d prepared didn’t really come off to the same effect I’d hoped to achieve.

I spent some time getting the new pano head calibrated – the device i bought to allow the camera to be remote-driven, and access live-view from an iOS device, has been invaluable. The new pano head is certainly an interesting development over my previous one, and hopefully its greater hardware precision will see it produce more accurate results.


2018 – Week 46

All the drone racing finally came to a head, the majority of the week being spent on getting the race gates built. PVC pipe is a difficult material, insofar as there’s no cross connectors, and the adhesive is so fast that you only get one chance to do anything.

I also had a bit of extra responsibility over at the Noosaville library makerspace – I’ve designed the pattern for the sound-deadening fins that are going onto the ceiling. I was told how many of which colour there was going to be, and then figured out the pattern to place them within the space. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

The week ended with the drone racing itself, documented here.