Heavy Breath | UCLA Capstone installation

For my capstone project I built a public art installation along a 60 foot wall for the opening of the DMA Senior Show. I chose a facade of the Broad art building that holds four Henri Matisse statues, and re-imagined what the architecture would look like if it could react to the energy of Broad and the temporal nature of the sculpture garden. This wall is the wall that all art and design students pass by everyday during their time at UCLA. The wall is a memory and a symbol of a place where we pulled all nighters, stressed over crit, experimented with new mediums, and often failed all to progress into an art field full of unknowns.

There are over 25 unique loops that last a minute each, totaling to about 25 minutes of animation. I started the animations with plainly lit reinterpretations of the concrete wall. I used the same concrete texture of the original wall yet extruded the facade inward so it appeared as if one could see inside the wall. I strove to maintain the natural vibe of the sculpture garden by displacing the inside of the wall with natural forming noise patterns, yet keeping architectural elements through various brick formations. One of the more popular animations revealed the concrete texture of the wall as billowing concrete liquid swirling in the confinements of the 60 foot long wall.

The second longer portion of the animations reimagined the wall as a reflective surface. I experimented with various paintings and photographs to light the reflective surface which was also undulating and oscillating, distorting the reflection. This part allowed for colorful and vibrant scenes which I relate to the experiments and energy from students work in Broad.

The sound is another important part of this installation. I asked my friend and fellow UCLA Student Luke Mombrea for some stems of ambient sounds similar to his work with movie compositions. I added beautiful field recordings from Richard Devine such as “Hydrophone Recording of Burning Embers Underwater” as well as “Hydrophone Recordings of Dolphins, Shrimp Feeding, and Hypostomus Plecostomus Fish” and “Field Recordings from Teufelsberg Listening Station Berlin, Germany“. I composited and produced the 6minute song in ableton. I’m super proud of it as it was my first time really using ableton and working with sound design.

None of this would have been possible without the support from VT Pro Design, Canon, Panisonic, and Cut Mod studios. I received two 8k lumen Christie projectors from VT Pro Design and one 7k Lumen projector from Canon. I used truss’ sponsored by Cutmod Studios to raise all the projectors above the audience sitting on the grass. A week before the installation I got a fourth 12k lumen laser projector sponsored by Panasonic for a total of 4 projectors.

 

Some of the bigger challenges were dealing with measuring distances for 3 different brands of projectors, projector lenses, and 3 different lumen amounts. Everything was composited, mapped, and blended in Resolume Arena 6 with a license sponsored by friends at Strangeloop Studios. Another challenge was creating content for the wall, each loop was about 1800-2400 frames at 6k resolution (5,500×1200). Loops took anywhere from 50s per frame to 2 mins per frame. I estimate it took a total of 500+ hours of rendering time over 3 computers for the 25 loops I made.

 

This whole project came together crazy fast, starting as late as May 8th and completed June 5th.

 

I had already been working on a project called “Flashlights” which was shown inside the EDA gallery during the opening of the senior show “Pressed for Space.” At first, the goal was to combine both projects and have people interact with the wall through these VR Tracked Flashlights. However, SteamVR couldn’t run with 4 projectors only 3, so I chose to omit the flashlights from the outside projection.

Heavy Breath refers to my own personal shortness of breath but also the life I intended to show through temporarily projecting light onto the facade of Broad.

Thank you so much to everyone who came to the opening and helped with this project.

There was a review in the Daily Bruin which can be read Here.

More documentation coming soon.