630 MFA Work Essay

My MFA body of work is focused on the importance of perception and the idea of being correct. To explore this concept, I am going to create a giant screen production about dinosaurs, as well as a project about imagination that I have yet to flesh out. I want to also include the Tree of Light as a demonstration of perception of the world. The statement the Tree of Light will make is that you can perceive the poverty in the world as depressing, or you can look at it and see what people are doing to help, and perceive the hope instead.
I grew up watching 72-foot screen of the Linder theater in Cincinnati Ohio, and ever since I decided to go into making animations I have wanted to see my work on an omnimax dome. I will be attending the Giant Screen Cinema Association Filmmaker’s Symposium in March to learn more about formatting and producing for this format.
My production is going to be about the way we see dinosaurs in our minds is by no means fixed, but the vision is relatively standard. The giant scaly beasts have recently changed to giant feathered beasts, but the texture of their skin is still largely unknown. Anatomical construction is educated guesswork based on bone structures that we have uncovered and how modern animals bones are set up. The scientific community has altered its views of skeletal construction for the Diplodocus as from a supposed iguana-like leg stance to a more upright stance, all based on speculation of weight and the idea that it would have to have a trench to drag its body through. Musculature reconstruction is largely based on guesswork as well, but an area that is often overlooked in general has more to do with the outer structure of anatomy that has no preserved remains: soft tissue.
Without soft tissue and cartilaginous forms, bunny rabbits would have no ears. Elephants would have no trunks. Everyday animals would be largely unrecognizable. To illustrate our lack of knowledge, I want to reconstruct a modern quadruped animal in the way that paleontologists have reconstructed dinosaurs. First, the skeletal structure will be incorrect, and I will put muscles on it and make it move. Modifications will be made to the setup until it is anatomically correct in skeletal structure and musculature, but it will still ignore soft tissues. The creature will have no ear or nose structures and have skin shrink-wrapped onto the moving form as it rears up and swipes with its forelegs among other motions. The animation will then fade into an animation showing that you’ve been watching a kitten play around. The point I want to impart is that we don’t know what dinosaurs looked like, and there is no way to know for certain. It is okay to not know the truth of the matter, but it is imperative that we acknowledge that is the state of our understanding and don’t perceive or impart our reconstructions as fact.
Next semester I will be developing my imagination piece conceptually and beginning production on my Giant Screen animation.

The turnout and participation for December’s First Friday event in Bryan was mind-blowing.  I got food poisoning or something and had to leave really early in the night, but luckily I have amazing friends who took care of the camera for me so I still have a timelapse.

My favorite part of this particular event is that I wasn’t there explaining the project to people, and it had the most interaction of any event yet!  I think that it was mainly the setting and foot traffic through the exhibition that enticed so many people to just read the cards I had out and glue beads and happy thoughts to the tree without prompting by a curator.  I am extremely happy that the sculpture and setup are now self-explanatory enough for people to interact with it by themselves.

My second MSC event was successful too! I’m really happy about how people respond to my message. Unfortunately this is the last Thursday I can afford to be in the MSC. Next week is Thanksgiving, and then it’s finals.  I reached out to the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority because their philanthropy is about helping girls be strong. “Advocates for women, we look to provide young girls with the experiences and resources that build spiritual, mental, and social resiliency in girls in today’s world.” They have yet to respond, but I am holding out hope if not this semester, then next semester.  I want to continue this project after this semester is over.

My first MSC event yesterday was really fun!  Ashley helped me get the camera and everything into the building and set up, and it seemed kind of slow but in reality a lot of people participated. I scheduled a table for next Thursday as well.

Unfortunately due to the foot traffic in front of the table the camera had to be set up behind the tree, but you can still see people adding to it even if you can’t see their beads from this angle.


November’s First Friday event was super fun.  I had a lot of people glue their beads to the tree, and some even wrote on paper and didn’t roll it, which I think looks really cool and adds to the charm of the piece.



I finished the base sculpture this weekend by covering the wires with recycled brown paper, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. On to the events!

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This week I did a LOT of soldering. First I soldered 64-ohm resistors to 23 white LEDs, and then I measured how much wire each would need to reach the end of its respective branch.



I was a dingus and accidentally soldered what I thought was the power pin (anode) on all the LEDs to the resistors, thinking that the power should be regulated more before going into the light itself.  It turns out that the anode was the cathode on the diagrams I didn’t look up before soldering, and the resistor comes after the cathode.  Oops, but two wrongs do make a right! Yay!



I labeled every branch before I sized it for wires. When the wires were cut, I taped them together with the same number label as the corresponding branch so I wouldn’t get confused.  There are three wire colors for input, and three for output.  I alternated blue, yellow, and green in that order for the power lines, so I could tell them apart when I was untangling them.  There are also three wire colors for ground because I had a packet of 6 wire colors of the same length and that’s how math works.  Unfortunately, I ran out of black and white, so the red is also ground- which may be confusing to people who are familiar with the regular color patterns of wiring.  Oh well, that’s what I had.  I did not alternate ground colors so I could tell the chunks apart as well as the individual wires.



I then soldered the lights to the wires, and the wires to a proto-breadboard that adafruit sent me for free for spending so much money with them. Yay free things? I’m glad I could use it for this project, it made things a lot easier.


I put a basic arduino code for fading lights in and out on the system, and they lit up! Yay!





This weekend I began constructing the base of my sculpture.  I started off with the big silver coil of wire depicted below, and a spring-like structure made from a piece of scrap wire.


I cut the coiled wire into long (3-feet-ish) pieces that I then wove into the springy wire to create a cylindrical structure.


I then spread the wires out to create mostly-even tension around the circumference of the cylinder and stuck them into a circular cardboard base.  When I was happy with their placement, I reinforced the cardboard connection with E6000, which is like rubber cement on steroids and will hold pretty much anything secure once it’s dried.  I temporarily bent the tops of the wires down for easier visualization of the final; They will be the branches that support the lights.