During my first semester as a graduate student in the College of Design at NC State University I had the opportunity of taking a course that focused on making content for a gallery show called ID:ENTITY, which opened at the end of our semester….
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During my first semester as a graduate student in the College of Design at NC State University I had the opportunity of taking a course that focused on making content for a gallery show called ID:ENTITY, which opened at the end of our semester. For the show I created many 2d graphics that were printed and hung up around the gallery. The largest of these prints was a 37 foot wide banner that spanned across the main gallery wall. Due to its massive size I underwent many challenges and made several changes to my work flow to compensate.
The image was put together in Photoshop from a mixture of manipulated photographs, 2D illustration, 3D graphics, and the use of a custom made halftone generator called Phantasm CS. Each of these elements sat on top of one another in layers, quickly increasing the size of my file to a whopping 8GB, causing it to take close to an hour to save. This forced me to be very deliberate with everything I did as opposed to how I used to work, being very experimental and choosing the best result. I received a lot of useful advice from studying the design practices of designer Charles Eames. Designing from your constraints, staying true to a medium’s nature, and innovation as a last result are just a few of these examples.
The concept behind the banner was to illustrate three ways of looking at identity. One being the idea of an unconscious identity, which involves the things that we do without thought. Second being the idea of individual identity, how one sees themselves, and third being the idea of a mass identity, seeing yourself as part of a government or social class. I illustrated this by taking different images we commonly associate with individual identity, such as a face and my very own thumbprint, and filtered them through the Phantasm CS plugin, using X-chromosome shapes, that I made in 3D software Maya, to generate a halftone effect. The end result was an image of a face or thumbprint that was made up of tiny X-chromosomes. I also repeated this effect using the numbers 0 & 1 to hint at the idea of our identity being drafted through binary code. You can see a close up detail image above.
The QR code features a section that breaks away into individual squares. While some of these squares were painted in Photoshop, the majority of them were created using a different approach. I began with a blank Photoshop file where I painted a random arrangement of opaque black squares on a white background. I then brought the file into Illustrator. One advantage of using Illustrator is the ability to create vector artwork, which are graphics that don’t pixelate if you scale them up. With this in mind I converted my file into a vector image and then imported the vector into Maya. I was able to then convert my vector artwork into 2D flat planes in Maya, which I then extruded the faces to create 3D boxes. Lastly I rendered a still image of the 3D boxes and brought it back into Photoshop, compositing it with the 2D boxes I painted to create the illusion of 2D boxes fading into 3D cubes. The idea of weaving different programs together to get a desired result is usually how I work.
For the cityscapes I had a completely different approach. I modeled flat planes in Maya to get the silhouette shapes of many of the buildings and architecture featured in the Downtown Raleigh Area. You can see NC State’s and UNC’s bell towers on opposing sides, along with the museum that the show took place in, CAM. The circle cityscape was incorporated with the physics software Box2D and a Xbox Kinect to make it interactive and react to a person’s movements. All of the programming was done by 2 of my classmates. Incredibly smart individuals who I’m glad I got a chance to work with.
It was an amazing experience to be a part of a show that turned out to be quite big, especially for my first semester. Prior to this I have never been in a gallery, I learned a lot from it all. Below are a few links to press content and reviews of the show and stats on sizes of the graphics.
The Circle Cityscape graphic is 5523 x 6103 pixels.
The Banner Photoshop file is composed of 60 layers and 52 mask.
The Banner Photoshop file took about 1 hour to save but 10 minutes to open (2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon; 12 GB 1066 MHz DDR3; MAC Pro)
The thumbprint is actually my own. I ran it through the Phantasm CS plugin and literally left a mark on my work!
The banner features handwriting from a professor who gave a lot of helpful advice while I was building the banner.
The banner is 66,200 x 7,200 pixels.