DEP (Digital Evolving Psyche): Post-Gallery Talk

Gallery 1
Digital Evolving Psyche

DEP (Digital Evolving Psyche) was an art gallery project that I embarked on last month from March 20th to March 23rd at San Jose State University’s Black Gallery. This gallery consisted of a digital front end on a computer, projected on the entirety of the back wall of the Black Gallery and controlled via a generic USB controller on a pillar. Audio for the gallery was provided from the projector’s speakers, and the whole front end was supplemented by an arcade cabinet displaying the most polished game I’ve created throughout my college career: Prismic Shift.

The front end was built in GameMaker: Studio due to my long-time experience with the program, though there was no built-in way to play back videos (which three of the final eight pieces I showcased were based on), so some expenses had to be made to enable video playback (and even then, I could only cap the video playback at 30fps due to glitches). The front end was an interactive portfolio with light visuals such as stars and, later on, rings and a small blue gradient, showcasing a variety of my works ranging from music to video and graphic design. I also spent the duration of the gallery building upon the front end, hence why it was the Digital Evolving Psyche: I was creating more of this gallery as I went on as a planned-out self-imposed challenge.

Gallery 3
A digital portfolio that you can interact with via controller

The different changes throughout the duration of the gallery were as follows:

  • Day 1 – I only had my video entries (A Day in the CS Club, we are PUCific, Prismic Shift) on showcase this day, mostly to test out the video playback plugin I used for the front end. There were some glitches with the video playback, causing me to reset the front end multiple times throughout the day. In terms of basic interaction and visuals, the menu consisted of a star field and a marquee scrolling at the top, with brief controls on the bottom right. The gallery also kept track of time in a 24 hour format, as well as what day the gallery was running.
  • Day 2 – I added 5 more entries to the gallery showcase (in(die), Harutopia, the bed of diverse flowers, The Reflectors OST, and Minecraft BART Station). The most important expansion to the gallery was the addition of image viewing and audio playback, programming my own music playback engine to automatically play through an album’s tracks as a track ends. I was in Andrew Blanton’s ART 175 class as this gallery was going on, so the class came to visit for a few moments. I also brought over a few drinks and snacks just in time for the official gallery showing this day, in which a few of my friends stopped by to take a look, as well as give a few critiques about it.
  • Day 3 – Nothing was changed in terms of lineup, but the order of the lineup was changed to make my more prominent works stand out more (A Day in the CS Club was moved to the other page while works like Harutopia and the bed of diverse flowers were moved to the front page). Another addition to the gallery was a notebook for people to write their thoughts on the gallery and my work (since I was told that was required for my gallery). In terms of visuals, I added floating rings to the main menu to complement the star field.
  • Day 4 – The only change I made to this day was a rotating music lineup depending on the time of day. I aimed for the pieces to be more sentimental as the gallery approached its last hours, ending with complete silence as the clock struck 7PM, as well as a simple message saying “This gallery has ended its final day. Cleanup will commence soon.”
Gallery 9
The visuals and other elements evolve as the gallery goes through the days

Setup and cleanup weren’t as hard as I thought it would be, considering that the gallery was relatively simple in itself (a controller on a pillar in the center, an arcade cabinet on the side, and a computer running the front end, connected to a projector). All I really had to do was be considerate of where I was running the wiring (in the controller’s case, I only had to tape down the wire until it reached the wall) so as to prevent tripping hazards in my gallery. Otherwise, I think setup took around an hour and a half on the Friday before my gallery, though I spent a little bit of time testing out the projection a bit more so that it suited my needs (the projector projected at a 4:3 format, so I ended up having to use corner adjustments to make it fit the entirety of the wall). I didn’t make any minute adjustments to any of the lights, so some of my projection may have had shadows casted by the hanging lights.

Cleanup was slightly quicker since all I was doing was taking down the gallery components, though I needed to keep the arcade cabinet in for the night until Rubaiyat was available to pick it up. I had to be quick with cleaning up the rest of the gallery, considering that check-out time was at 12PM sharp, so I did the rest of my thorough cleanup (i.e. mopping and sweeping) around that time.

Making Of 3
This USB controller was hooked up by a very long USB extension cable (25ft.), enough to reach the front end computer

Overall, I think this was one of the most ambitious projects I’ve done under pressure, though it was at least within reason of what I could actually do this time. I had originally planned out a three-projector gallery with a lot more interactive elements such as a digital guide with its own opinions on my works, as well as said guide being voiced and taking over on the last day, letting out all of its frustrations when people expect the usual selection of portfolio items, but 1) it was definitely beyond the scope and motivation for me to actually pull off, 2) it wouldn’t be fair to the bystander to be subjected to whatever “issues” I shared with them through this gallery, and 3) it would be technically and financially unfeasible to do a seamless three-projection gallery when I only really have one day to set everything up. It kept me in check with what I could and couldn’t do with the skill sets that I currently possess, and I’m glad that people enjoyed this gallery as much as I certainly did creating it.

DEP Day 1 (Digital Evolving Psyche)

First things first, I…uh…really underestimated how much prep work it takes to arrange, duct tape, and put all the things together, especially when you only have ONE EXTENSION CABLE that is actually capable of taking in the heavy duty charge of a presentation projector and an iMac at the same time. I did manage to get things set up, but I decided to spend the next 4 hours ironing out whatever kinks I could with the frontend of DEP before officially opening the doors.

In terms of features, DEP as of Day 1 has the following:

  • A Day in the CS Club, we are PUCific, and Prismic Shift showcased
  • Video modules semi-working (the plugin hates 60fps for some reason, so some re-encoding will most likely be necessary–and hey, lower files sizes are always a good thing!)
  • A proper working marquee system (mostly for notices on when the gallery’s going to open or close, but can also be used for other purposes if I so desire)
  • A clock!
  • A day counter!
  • Falling stars!
  • A more optimized fade in-fade out system that’s probably a dozen times better than whatever junk I hacked up for Prismic Shift

For Day 2, I will probably work more on developing the following:

  • Image and audio modules (so my fliers and music can be properly showcased)
  • A basic “guide” to make things more entertaining, hopefully, as well as give more insight to all of the pieces e.g. behind the scenes stuff and second thoughts from an “outsider” perspective
  • Improvements in usability (because lord knows how much I suck ass at that coughprismicshiftcough)
  • Better music!
  • More sound effects!

At least I got arranging the gallery out of the way fairly quickly. Now if only I could snag another computer to use so I don’t have to sacrifice my laptop for the day…not to mention the risks of stolen property and whatnot 😡