Odds and Ends: Atlantis Shuttle Launch 2011

Photographs taken during my trip to watch the final launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

The Atlantis 2011 shuttle blast off!

Shuttle Atlantis launches from the Kennedy Space Center. STS-135 the grand finale!

Up, Up, and Away! Atlantis is successfully launched, and a tower of billowing smoke is left in its wake.

Hours before liftoff, the view of the vehicle assemble building across the bay is serene.

Hours before liftoff, the view of the vehicle assembly building across the bay is serene.

Thousands of people gather at the Astronaut Hall of Fame to watch the final shuttle launch.

A candid photograph of astronaut, John McBride.

A topographic map of the planet Jupiter is projected onto a sphere at the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

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The LifeCycle Tree: ComFest 2011

Life doesn’t always go as planned, nor do volunteer projects. All the same, the LifeCycle Tree was an unprecedented success this year at ComFest.

The sculpture alone drew the attention of thousands of passerbys. Some thought it was hideous. Most thought it was beautiful. Many were curious about the purpose of the tree, and what will be done next with the idea. Sitting beneath our plastic canopy, rain or shine, we answered an endless stream of questions from members of the community. My personal favorite was the off-handed remark: “I hope you plan on recycling all of those plastic bags?” My response to which was, “What do you think we’re doing here?”

It took the efforts of dozens of people, and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of reclaimed plastic bags to create the LifeCycle Tree. Bags were gathered from friends, family, and the recycling bins of local grocery stores. In the image below, we’ve begun creating the canopy of the tree.

Below is an image of the sculpture at ComFest last week. It’s appearance, though impressive as-is, is likely to evolve in the future.

Thousands of people opted to ride their bikes to ComFest this year. The LifeCycle Tree, created to promote the concept of sustainability and to encourage earth-friendly changes in an individual’s behavior, is visible in the background of the following image:

Although we gained many new volunteers throughout the festival, we aimed a bit too high. Due to the ambitious scope of the project, we were unable to complete the interactive component of the installation. Even so, the success of the sculpture alone was beyond anything we could have imagined. As such, we plan to proceed with renewed determination to see the LifeCycle Tree experiment to full fruition. The tree, with interactivity included, will be completed for a future community event.

Those who wish to contribute to the tree by helping create its skirt can read more about how to do so at Articipatory’s blog.

See more images of the LifeCycle Tree and read more about sustainability at ComFest 2011 in this Columbus Dispatch article.

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

May I present, for your viewing pleasure, a brand-spanking-new illustration from my 3D  portfolio gallery:

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg, by Bethany Culp

“One day a farmer going to the nest of her Goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When she took it up, it was as heavy as lead and she was going to throw it away, because she thought a trick had been played upon her. But she took it home on second thoughts, and soon found to her delight that it was an egg of pure gold. Every morning the same thing occurred, and she soon became rich by selling her eggs. As she grew rich she grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the Goose could give, she killed it and opened it only to find, — nothing.”

The LifeCycle Tree: Animation Process

I have completed the initial sketches for the animations for the LifeCyle Tree, an interactive, art installation that will make its debut at ComFest this summer.

The animations on which I’m currently working will be digitally superimposed over the sculpture of the LifeCycle Tree. I’ll be animating flowers bursting into bloom and withering away, fruit swelling into ripeness, and swaying leaves that fade into autumn hues (although whether it’s going to be an earthly autumn is still up for debate).

LifeCycle Tree Process 01

I began my animation process drawing a base sketch for each animation element (flowers, fruit, and leaves) based upon the art director’s notes. In the image above, you see the tiny beginning of the fruit, little more than a dime-sized circle, a stem, and a few roughly doodled leaves. These post-it note and tracing paper sketches will be used to determine composition and placement, and later, to create the final artwork digitally.

LifeCycle Tree Process 02

Next, I taped the base sketches to Bristol board with white artist’s tape, if needed. White artist’s tape ensures the frames stay in the correct position, but can still be easily removed or replaced, if desired.

LifeCycle Tree Process 03

After placing a sheet of tracing paper over-top the base sketches, I draw the next frame based on the one that was drawn before. I alter each shape in increments, as per the AD’s notes. Registration marks are drawn on the corners of each frame to maintain alignment.

Above, you can see various stages of the leaf animations hand-sketched between layers of tracing paper. Each frame is numbered with the animation variation and the frame order. For example, you may be able to make out the 9/4 in the top right corner of the frame in the bottom right. That means that the frame is the 4th frame of the 9th leaf animation variation.

After each set  is complete, I stack the frames in order and pin them to the wall with a feeling of accomplishment. As it stands, there are 20 unique animations of flowers, fruit and leaves, each containing between 4-6 frames.

I’m ready to take these rough sketches and move on to the next stage, which will bring my work out of the manual realm and into the digital.

The LifeCycle Tree

Over the next few weeks I will be teaming up with Articipatory to assist in the creation of the LifeCycle Tree, an interactive piece of installation artwork that will be displayed at ComFest this summer. The LifeCycle tree is a playful experiment on driving collective behaviour through game dynamics, information visualization, and art.

The purpose of the LifeCycle Tree is  rooted (shameless pun intended) in the ideology of sustainability, the formal definition for which was established in 1987 at the World Commission on Environment and Development: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

There are many small ways in which a person can alter behaviors and habits to become more green or environmentally-friendly. She may reduce (the use of), reuse, and recycle materials made from finite natural resources (such as plastics and metals). Doing so helps conserve these limited resources for future generations. She may conserve electricity by turning out lights and switching to cleaner energy sources, as opposed to burning fossil fuels for energy, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Riding a bike, rather than driving to nearby destinations, can also help improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the ways in which the LifeCycle Tree encourages sustainability is by providing an added incentive for people to ride their bikes, rather than drive, to ComFest: “To give life to the LifeCycle Tree, ride your bike to ComFest this year. Park at the corral, and receive a seed. Show the seed to the eye of the tree, and you will have added a leaf to its canopy. Come back over and over again (and on multiple days) and watch your leaf grow, flower, and bear fruit.” Additionally, cyclists have the opportunity to “give life – almost literally – to the installation itself, by riding the attached bike powered generator,  thus charging its batteries and keeping it going for others to see.” Even the “bark” of the tree will be crocheted from reclaimed, plastic bags. How eco-chic is that?

The LifeCycle Tree is the first, of what I hope to be many, creative projects documented on polymediastudio.com blog. Be sure to check back soon for an overview of the animation process.

Animation Sketch Layers

For more information on the LifeCycle Tree experiment, visit Articipatory’s blog.