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  May.23.13 The Multi-sensory, Data-driven World of Lukasz Furman

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Intermedia: Using or involving several media simultaneously; multimedia. Origin: 1960's (Dictionary.com)

An Intermedia student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Lukasz has been using TouchDesigner for just under a year and in that time has created an intriguing and investigative body of work. Much of this work is based on taking data from almost everything around him (to which Lukasz admits being 'addicted') and then using this data to build experiments using TouchDesigner. Virtuality and reality factor heavily in these experiments as does creating circumstances that actively illicit participation from interactors (vs. viewers).

Lukasz tells us he believes TouchDesigner to be the best tool for Intermedia students where the subject of transforming data is central to the spirit of Intermedia itself. He says "there are many tools you are supposed to know in our program but TouchDesigner puts that all together in one and gives you an extra gate to go outside with your imagination. I can call it 'extra tool'."

Inter Audio Mapo Akcjonizm / Inter Audio Map Act

i.a.m.a is a sensory multimedia installation. It associates multiple virtual areas controlled by tools and behaviors, both real and interactive. It is a mix of the virtual and the real, a quasi-holographic simulation that is mapped, animated and cinematographically rendered in real time. The installation gives you the ability to control but also has its own independent characteristics resulting in a curvature of reality and psychedelic states. The room is completely filled with the image and the projection itself becomes something more than what is actually shown to the audience. Additionally, the area out of sight is also being filled out. The recipient unknowingly introduces interactions in each and every move. This involves the position of the controller (ipad), independent sliders (TouchOSC application) and recipient’s own position in the xyz axes (Kinect). Concept realized by Kuba Garscia was for the purposes of his master degree. Lukasz was responsible for TD programing and interactive elements.

Dinner by Candlelight Logic

What Lukasz likes most about TouchDesigner is the option to "rebuild reality inside a computer and after that to be able to rewrite it again." If this or any of the above statements need clarification we believe the following conversation with Lukasz alongside his TouchDesigner explorations will make clear. Enjoy!

LF: In 2010, I graduated from the Academy of Photography in Krakow. I studied Film and Television Production and Organization at the Academy in Kraków. Since 2011, I have been a student at the Department of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. My activities focus around the activities of intermedia. My works are within the mainstream of contemporary art phenomena such as video art, audio art, interactive installations, mapping space and performance. My interests and related influences are closely related to new media and the creative use of new technologies. In my work I try to integrate a variety of media with a view also to implement a coherent, readable whole. One of the most important features of being a creator of intermedia is my ability to work with a group of people whose outside experience and similar interests combine the passion to create something new.

 

My Personal Space

I believe that the area we could call personal space, has become in many aspects of human thinking, open and sensitive to various external stimuli. I introduced it in the simplest way I could and chose to use a relatively new technology available to us. The space presented here in the form of an installation finds its interactor and then, using the graphical form of a cube, adjusts to our position and determines the perspective from which we look. The interaction takes place on a very thin line between virtual reality and the absolute reality that we can experience based on feelings and intuition through experience. Project realized under 'Archisfera Lab' conducted by prof. ASP Grzegorz Bilinski




Lukasz you have produced a large and diverse body of work in a very short amount of time, much of it using TouchDesigner in combination with other tools. Can you tell us how you were introduced to the software and how you work with it - how it has influenced your work?

I was told about TouchDesigner about a year ago by my good friend Kuba Garscia who is also a motion designer. It was two weeks before the Intermedioland project was about to start in the Cloth Hall in Kraków and to put it briefly, I had two weeks to learn how to use the tool and design an interactive facade. Following Noise Operators I started to deconstruct the facade by putting noise on the surface points. By using a nanoPad integrated into an aesthetic hyperrealistic sculpture, I was able to control the façade. That's when I started thinking in this way. I was then already living in Kraków and it was a year before I joined the Intermedia Department of The Academy of Fine Arts.

Back then I was looking for a motion sensor control device. I did my research and discovered Kinect and started to learn about it. I was using Kinect with many development platforms and every time it was missing something. With TouchDesigner it was much easier to get through the procedural way of thinking, converting data and philosophy. Now I'm using it almost every day.

It is sometimes something like a drug which is taking you to the vortex in the middle of a blank page. And then you find yourself going through it in a kind of a formula. The borders between reality and virtual reality are starting to blend. Working with TouchDesigner gives me a systematic way of doing something creative. I am especially addicted to taking data from almost everything that I am focused on at the moment. Much of my work involves making experiments using virtuality and reality in many ways. In this sense my philosophy also changed – data is everywhere.

 

Ghost Town

Interactive, multi-sensory installation focused on observed relations between people and city. Specific urban structure planned as a new part of city (the revitalized industrial area of Belval-Université) assumed to be full of people, but in reality are empty spaces only occasionally crowd. Correspondence of this correlation and interaction with the installation reflects the situation. As external observers we are able to develop the formula of using interactive mapping in a non-standard way. The focus is on simplicity, economy of expression and primitive form. - Lukasz Furman, Eliasz Styrna - Differdange, Luxembourg 2013


Most of your projects have elements of interactivity and some - like Ghost Town are quite complex. You seem to use interactivity to comment on or to hilight what you've discovered in environments or situations and then present people with tools so that their interaction with a space reflects those observations.

I've produced a lot of projects recently and most of the them have been focused on interactivity. The last project 'Ghost Town' took place in Luxembourg where I went with classmate Eliasz Styrna to participate in an international program called Cross Border Network.

'Ghost Town' was inspired by an interesting thing which we observed in the place where we were living while staying in Luxembourg. One of the new parts of the agglomeration which is called Belval University was completely empty, there was no one in the streets. After doing some research we decided to make a little piece based on the feeling the district had on us. I always try to put some natural interactivity in the space I come into, so we started to think about an interactive table integrated to one of the machines that were there which would be used to control to the environment. I was researching tracking objects, found Open CV to track blobs and after that I saw this in TouchDesigner. The next step was to set up projectors and calibrate the camera which was pointed at the table. After that I simply changed the levels of the image to have good blob tracking of the lighting cubes. So yes, we managed to track the light, I was really excited to see it work!

Ghost Town Network
Ghost Town Blob Tracking
Ghost Town Logic

The next question was how to transform the '0' point from the pixels to the 3D scene and then correctly project it to the table. I started to make a simple particle system and put it on the table. Having done that, I made some metaballs to be able to use force on the cube in reality. I transformed the UV values from blob track to 'tx' 'ty' and calibrated them with the projector.

I was observing positions of the lightning cube and limited the values which would trigger the interaction. After the table was done, I started programming the interactions. We mapped the environment with four projectors and prepared some animations and graphics. After that I combined them with my trigger values and four nanoKontrol knobs. We created sounds for the installation and also combined them with specific values from the interactive table.

The thing I like the most in TouchDesigner is the option to rebuild reality inside a computer and after that to be able to rewrite it again.

 

Dinner by Candlelight: React Table

I used TouchDesigner to make interactive hotspots on the table where I put some graphics and sound. It is a first prototype and there will be future versions. Constructing it from nothing took one day!

I had audio samples from one of my professors and thought ''Why not make a react table - let's try'' so I went looking for the right table (an industrial wire spool as it turned out). With the same method as ''Ghost Town'' I used the Blob Track TOP to track the light position from the candles, using Math CHOP's and logic I transform the position of the pixels from Blob Track to be correspond with the position of the  3D scene. Creating a particle system I was able to export the position from candles to a Sphere SOP, so in this way I had interactive candles with the projection on it. The next step it was to create some hotspots on the table to get information for the audio and video - when to start. To do this I use the Limit CHOP to get the right values from the candles. I mean here that when you put a candle on the right spot the interaction starts. I prepared some media bins for AV and after that I export values from the candles to movie and audio.

I created a design for the table and the mapped space I covered with videos I'd recorded in the past. There are some bugs to eliminate like projecting from the celling and for next prototype I will try back projection from the table and tracking the bottom of the table not top. Project realized under 'Audiosfera Lab' conduct by prof. Marek Cho?oniewski. - Kraków 2013



Dinner by Candlelight Network
Dinner by Candlelight Audio

Powidoki – Light Move Festival in Lódz´

While designing our piece we departed from traditional projection which is a passive spectacle, and enhanced it with live interaction with the facade of the building. We were trying to give up ready-made material and looking to implement workflow to engage the receiver in an active way. Thanks to a specially designed application made with TouchDesigner and with the help of a motion sensor and a touchscreen interface it was possible to control the video mapping to a certain extent. People participated in a performance based on controlling the form of the projection. Additionally we implemented effects of 3D animation to cause the mapped picture to go out of the boundaries of the architectural elements, getting closer to the space in which the performance happens. Thus, the frames dividing reality from the installation and receiver from the creator were broken. Project realized for Light Move Festival in Lodz. With collaboration of Intermedia students and No Art. Curated by Dr Mariusz Front. Lukasz was responsible for interactive part of the project and real time visualizations. - Kraków 2012


 

Intermedioland – Cloth Hall | Experiment/mapping

I cooperated in creating the "Intermedioland" project which was held under the "Science Festival" (Festiwal Nauki) in Kraków. I created a system of real-time rendered animations alongside a controller which was used to control the animations. All this connected with sound and gave the user a chance to interact with the Cloth Hall facade. Project realized for 'Science Festival' in Kraków. With collaboration of Intermedia students and No Art, Micha? Borowski. Curated by Dr Mariusz Front. Lukasz was responsible for interactive part of the project and real time visualizations.- Kraków 2012


 

Grand Opening of Malopolski Ogród Sztuki (MOS)

RAJSKA - The Identity of Place
Malopolski Ogród Sztuk
This multimedia spectacle prepared for the grand opening of the Malopolska Garden of Fine Arts in the form of a metaphorical story about the place, its history, present and future. It combines various fields of artistic activity. In the layers of the image is a collage of video art, video, mapping, play of lights and lasers. In the layers of sound there are electronic music elements, concrete and intuitive elements of performance and DJ Scratching.The initiator of the project was Aleksander Janicki. Lukasz with No Art was responsible for aping and animation elements. - Kraków 2012

 

Multimedia Theatre of Bethlehem models in Kraków

The video mapping show "Multimedialnego Teatru Szopki Krakowskiej" was held on three facades of buildings in Szczepanski square: Palace of Fine Arts, Old Theatre and Municipal Savings Bank Building. The project was part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Krakow Bethlehem models competition and the main organizer is the Historical Museum of Krakow. The creators of artistic setting is a group of people associated with the Department of Intermedia Arts in Krakow, under the guidance of prof. Grzegorz Bilinski. Projections are animated, artistic vision of the tradition of Christmas cribs. The initiator of the project was prof. ASP Grzegorz Bilinski. With collaboration of Intermedia students and No Art. Lukasz with was responsible for mapping and animation elements. - Kraków 2012.


Audio Reactive Objects | Visualization - Kraków 2013

You perform live visuals also don't you?

In my spare time I like to VJ at parties and of course it meant I wanted to use TouchDesigner for this as well. Actually, the very first thing I wanted to use TouchDesigner for were audio-reactive visualizations and I am happy to say that my visuals are now definitely audio reactive! I'm now working on more complicated projects and I am learning ways of using moving objects as a part of the visualization space.

I am also working on a way to program Arduino easily and having lots of fun with it. I like the orchestrated and natural movement of objects and things put on to screens and surfaces. I love to map objects in 3D space using the environment to lose the feeling of reality.





Audio reactive table controlled by Kinect and performance to the dome camera with the use of MaWi applications and system molecules. The table was create in TouchDesigner. All graphics are mapped onto the table and programmed to react to hand movements with the use of Kinect.

The second video is a performance to camera, no public just me, data and the camera. I use the application MaWi to perform in real-time with many audio samples and send those audio samples to TouchDesigner to be analysed, equalized and visualized. It was a particle system but in some ways I described it as a molecules system - to be closer our natural beginning.

 

aniMos – exhibition in Malopolskie Ogrody Sztuki (Malopolska Gardens Art)

"The event name "Animos" is a combination of the word "animate" and the building name abbreviation "MOS". This event was an experiment deviating from the typical presentation in galleries and museums. Known temporary public place such as a corridor, staircase or a place inaccessible to the public as so. "Cave" will become an excuse to turn these areas into a vivid screen with the implementation of video art, interactive works and performance art. This ephemeral event is to have cognitive values which together with the audience discovers the possibilities of place as site-specific." discovers the possibilities of place as site-specific." Concept of the event by mgr Mariusz So?tysik. Attended by students from Intermedia Department and other artists.

I had the opportunity to present my work there. The work consisted of attaching parts of our body to the bamboo pole stuck in the elegant trash. When the body comes into contact with the end of the highlighted pole visitors could see the microscopic image in real-time which was further processed in TouchDesigner.



 

INDEX

People appearing on the monitor are a group of second year Intermedia students. Each person has an individual account on Facebook and the photos we see have been selected personally by each person in the group as their Facebook profile picture.

I imported the images for the project into TouchDesigner and after that I combined them in many different ways to get one random image of the all pictures. From that point I started to analyze the RGB spectrum which give  me some values to have fun with it. The next part involved importing some text I got from the students into TouchDesigner. I made simple network for every student, so 13 at networks altogether. I then did the same thing for the audio. 

I combined the all steps into one  piece by using some simple algorithm to get a never ending random set of values, and I made it interactive by using a Nanokontrol Pad. I trigger some value response for opacity, audio play etc. with the buttons. In the end by using a Window COMP I sent the composition to an external TV and monitor. The result of the experiment is random hyperinformation on each of us. ?ukasz realized it in the studio of PKC(digital creations lab) in connection with the subject of "isolation". Lab conduct by mgr Mariusz So?tysik and dr Bogdan Achimescu.

- Kraków 2013


INDEX Network
INDEX RGB

 

real/unreal

An attempt to observe the differences between reality and virtual reality. - Rzeszów 2013

You do seem to address reality and illusion consistently in your work - creating virtual or hybrid realities.

The moment when we break the rules of "reality thinking" is one of the most 'wow' moments while creating things. After that things become more fun and also more illusionary. Organic Simulation is a good example of this. I always wanted to do a multimedia performance. As I said before, I started with looking for a body-tracking device, so there came the time when I started to work on it in TouchDesigner.

 

Organic Simulation - Kraków 2013

Organic Simulation originates from a collaboration of Artur Lis (No Art), Kuba Garscia and myself. As VJ's we take as subject a natural organic form and we work with it, each of us taking it in a different way so that it motivates us to create new forms. In this case I built one particle system and I calibrated the Kinect and projector to have the correct projection on the screen. Afterwards I had fun with the value of forces which I exported from Kinect to find the one which was most natural.


 

Creating Your Own Tools - Kraków 2013

I also try to develop my own components, maybe not full interfaces, but the networks built in TouchDesigner which are easy to understand and follow for the people who are new and are interested in TouchDesigner.

Currently I'm working on a kind of sculpture tool and it has taken me quite some time to make it ready. But the idea is as much as possible to build a clear network. For example if we want to scan a 3D object and combine it together with the projection and map the scanned object we need to proceed step by step - one step at a time. But I believe it can be done in a faster optimized and automatic way. I'm creating the networks which are optimized to take the data from Kinect and directly put it to a calibrated projector. There are also some descriptions about how to calibrate the Kinect with projector and there will be some examples of what you can do with that. It's not an extra complicated project of this type, but since I've never built interfaces for me it's kind of extra lessons.

It really is impressive the range of projects you've executed with TouchDesigner! I guess you've found your tool?!

I believe that TouchDesigner is the best tool for Intermedia students. The subject of transforming data is really central to the spirit of Intermedia. There is a lot to discuss about Intermedia itself, but I think everybody has something in common with it and can find something to use for themselves.


Real-time Animation - Kraków 2013







You recently gave a workshop Lukasz, more to come?

Yes! I feel that it's a great thing for me to share what I learn and to help people start with their own thinking in that way. For sure there will be more than one workshop edition. Just after coming back to Poland I will start to organize next date for the next workshops. I hope it will be organized at the Intermedia Department in Kraków.

We hope so too and thank-you Lukasz!

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