In the Silver Light, the Stars (My Eyes)

ART | 2010


Autodesk Maya, Adobe After Effects, Supercollider, Passive Polarized Stereo 3D Projection

In the Silver Light, the Stars (My Eyes) is a stereoscopic animation with algorithmically composed sound. The live-action video component features Professor Neal Grossman as an amateur astronomer.

In the initial research phase of this project, I began to think of certain visual aspects present in our conception of outer space as inaccurate or anthropomorphic. For example, when I think of nebulas and stars and planets and galaxies, the picture of them in my mind is fractured, false or overtly personal. They have more in common with phosphenes, which is the perception of colors and lights in the ocular system caused by a source other than actual light. The most common type is pressure phosphenes caused by pressing or rubbing one's eyes. These images of space, both inner and outer, are hallucinations, something we cannot properly document or describe through conventional means (e.g. video). While considering all of this, I read a poem that I had previously undervalued:

Ignorant Before The Heavens Of My Life

Ignorant before the heavens of my life,
I stand and gaze in wonder. Oh the vastness
of the stars. Their rising and descent. How still.
As if I didn't exist. Do I have any share in this? Have I somehow dispensed with their pure effect? Does my blood's ebb and flow
change with their changes? Let me put aside
every desire, every relationship
except this one, so that my heart grows used to
its farthest spaces. Better that it live
fully aware, in the terror of its stars, than
as if protected, soothed by what is near.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Technically, I am experimenting with the use of dynamic and physical simulations as an animation paradigm. Though computationally expensive, these simulations can yield organic movement and texture which can be controlled through stochastic processes in a way that would be impossible through traditional key frame animation. The video also features a transition from 2d live-action to stereoscopic 3d. I am interested in how this transition affects the viewer, not only in the sense of expectation brought on by the apparatus of stereoscopic 3d, but also thematically, as the video transitions from a more traditional cinematic scene to one of computer animation.

An excerpt from Scenes From Childhood, Opus 15-VII. Dreaming by Robert Shumann (performed by Donald Betts) was sole sound source for the the algorithmically composed audio component, which was made with Supercollider (an environment and programming language for algorithmic composition). My goal with the audio portion was to transform the original piece in such a way as to match the transition between the exterior and interior scenes. Using primarily granular synthesis, the audio varies in texture and density in a similar manner to the animated visual events.