#digital murmuration (MURMURATION OF LIGHT)

This project has gone from a possibility to a form of reality by doing the residency in Denver, CO with MORPHOS (in particular thank you to Ethan). The project has evolved and I have been on an incredibly steep learning curve. The realisation of the project has been a collaboration with Rich Clements, who I have learned a lot from in the last few weeks and couldn’t have made the piece without his help. I have two journals that also form part of this project – they are home to me trying to get my head around the 3D space and embryonic sequences, story boards, camera moves, timelines etc. I have also submitted a QT movie of the domemaster (a domemaster is the distorted circular image that we made that is then projected onto the dome, or half sphere, becoming flat and 3D when it hits the curves) and a QT movie explaining part of the process/relationship to other projects/narratives on a USB stick.  Below will be a series of screenshots explaining parts of the process and a list of links to tutorials and sites we used.

Murmuration of Light, as an idea, first came into being near the start of the MA and research has taken one form or another over many months really. As I have said before I believe that we, as artists, cannot top the natural world when we represent it or respond to it…maybe very rarely. Or humans make something as beautiful as something in the natural world (maybe singing – Pavorotti singing Nessun Dorma is a good example – a voice, a sound made by an animal, a part of nature rather than an abstracted response to it – which maybe most drawings and words are?) but then we are the natural world. Need to do more research into Timothy Morton, James Turrell, immersive artists, digital ecology, science, AI, VR…long old list is growing but at the moment I keep finding myself in a world of making work at the moment.

I wanted to make a piece of digital nature with this project – there is no way I could top the experience of witnessing a murmuration or being in a cloud of phosphorescence but I wanted to try and create a piece of immersive work that might evoke the feeling of witnessing a piece of natural phenomena –  to create a transient experience – to create a piece of digital phenomena. The invisible framework, or network that links everything in our solar system (and beyond) exists (I realise that I am writing this without referencing people who have said it before – this further research will come but at the moment I have found myself focusing on the making elements of my practice rather than the critical research – I know that I need to contextualise my work and place it within other practitioners – I hope that this will also allow me to push it further) – I wanted to create an invisible framework within the program Cinema4D (have included a diagram of the C4D workspace on the USB stick), to create an environment that the digital starlings/dinoflagellates interacted with, that contained them – a digital environment/a digital world/a digital solar system/digital weather systems/digital predators/digital forces. [I talk about how we did this in the Explanation on the USB stick]. As with some of my other projects I wanted to set something in motion and let the work create itself to a certain extent – to become an editor, an author-less observer.


The soundscape is borne out of the recording I made for my manifesto of a dawn chorus in Mabe, Cornwall. I have taken samples from it and changed their pitch and tempo – some of the samples are also found recordings or me whistling, I layered them in a program called audacity and separated them into different channels creating a 5.1 surround mix that filled the planetariums (the sound on the domemaster is a stereo mix so it works on laptops etc). I wanted to ground the digital images using aural elements of the found natural world – to use sound to link the abstract imagery with the fact that it’d taken it’s influence from murmurations and phosphorescence – to place what the audience were experiencing within an organic framework or environment.



Highly saturated oak photograph from my series ‘You’re Oak’ – used as background colours/textures for the visible frameworks in the background and the street scenes

false colour version of another image from 'You're Oak' - used as a texture for the digital starlings, the choice of colour coming from phosphorescence

false colour version of another image from ‘You’re Oak’ – used as a texture for the digital starlings, the choice of colour coming from phosphorescence

Here’s a link to an interactive version of a Murmuration of Light. If you haven’t seen the film before I would urge you to watch the domemaster file on the USB stick first –  the link below is a version that you can navigate around using a mouse, or tipping your smart phone around or view by wearing a virtual reality headset – bonkers really – however you don’t see the whole composition at once which is a bit annoying…I can’t reduce the file size of the domemaster enough, without compromising the quality too much, to put it online.





Blendy 360 Cam | Blendy Dome VJ 

ARTS Lab » Archive » Hue’s Beginner’s Guide to Fulldome Production 

Cinema 4D Tutorial – Basic HDRI Lighting [HD] -YouTube

VJ University – Using Blendy 360 Cam on Vimeo Flocking Birds – C4D & AE on Vimeo

How to Use Thinking Particles in Cinema 4D Part 4 5 and 6 – Greyscalegorilla Blog

Basic Flocking with Thinking Particles Part 1 – Cinema 4D tutorials – YouTube Thinking Particles – Generators

How to Speed Up and Slow Down Your Animation in Cinema 4D – Greyscalegorilla Blog

The Basics Of Creating 5.1 or 7.1 Mix In Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition | 4K Shooters

Use video texture to trigger particle? – Dynamics, Hair, Thinking Particles, MoGraph or General Animation – C4D Cafe

rob redman’s Videos on Vimeo

3D Mixing: Giving Your Mixes More Space Free C4D Audio Waveform Rig! | The Pixel Lab

Quick Tip: Maze Trace Plugin for Cinema 4D – YouTube

Cinema 4D Tutorial – Inheritance Effector & Particle Morph – YouTube Cinema 4D Tutorial – Multiple Object Particle Emission

Audacity Forum • View topic – moving sound from speaker to speaker

Quick Tip 26 : How to combine Sound with Thinking Particles on Vimeo

3D Projection Mapping | Know Your Meme

DOME PROJECTIONS | Joanie Lemercier Cinema 4D – Generating a Skybox – NoskeWiki

Dome projection using a spherical mirror (MirrorDome)

Spatial Projections — Medium

HOW TO » videomapping.org

ANTIVJ is a visual label on Vimeo

Behind the scenes – (Projections in the Forest) on Vimeo

AntiVJ – PROJECT simongeilfus.com

Joanie Lemercier, visual artistJoanie Lemercier

Fulldome – Films in the Round – Cinefex Blog

Digital Dome Artist Resources | BETA ARTS Lab » Archive » Hue’s Beginner’s Guide to Fulldome Production

VJ University – Using Blendy 360 Cam on Vimeo

AMATERAS Dome Player | ORIHALCON Technologies, Inc.

Hugin – Panorama photo stitcher

How to Shoot Starry Photos of Fireflies

Вебинар по Thinking Particles от cg-school.org. От 17.04.14. – YouTube

SkyBox | Mettle

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) | Oculus

Cinema 4D Tutorial: Create a swarm of objects (Beginner) – YouTube

Using Spline Paths With 1-Directional Objects | Cinema 4D Tutorial – YouTube

Cinema 4D Camera following a spline tut – YouTube

Cinema 4D – Make a Wireframe Render. – YouTube

Tracer Object (Trail) – Cinema 4D Tutorial – YouTube

Cinema 4D training tutorial – Formula spline – YouTube

Flock of Birds animation tutorial cinema 4d on Vimeo

Align To Spline – Constant Speed – Dynamics, Hair, Thinking Particles, MoGraph or General Animation – C4D Cafe

Function Menu In R13 – New Users & Beginners – C4D Cafe

Set Constant Velocity cinema 4d r14 – Google Search

How to Use Thinking Particles in Cinema 4D Part 1 2 and 3 – Greyscalegorilla Blog

How to Use Thinking Particles in Cinema 4D Part 4 5 and 6 – Greyscalegorilla Blog

Thinking Particles – Getting Good Turbulence – MoGraph Central – ::: mograph :::

Thinking Particles Lesson 1: Part 1 of 6 (Make an emitter) on Vimeo

Basic Flocking with Thinking Particles Part 2 – Cinema 4D tutorials – YouTube

Baking A Camera Movement? – Rendering & Lighting / Team Render – C4D Cafe

Timeline problem : Cinema 4D

Cinema4D Tutorial: Understanding the Matrix Cloner (Beginner) – YouTube

Wireframe Generator For C4D – For Free! on Vimeo


How to Build a Magnetic Levitating Top How the Science of Swarms Can Help Us Fight Cancer and Predict the Future | WIRED mariele neudecker tanks – Google Search Mythbusters Sonic Boom Myth – YouTube long exposure light kitchen – Google Search This is What Happens When You Put LEDs on a Roomba «TwistedSifter Flocking (behavior) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Sounds Of Living Coral Reefs Are Breathtaking And Important | Popular Science fungus web – Google Search mycelium – Google Search slime mould – Google Search Slime mould attacks simulates Tokyo rail network – Not Exactly Rocket Science : Not Exactly Rocket Science DOSITS: What are common underwater sounds? 5 Most Mysterious Underwater Sounds Ever Recorded – YouTube ML: Macaulay Library Coffee vs beer: Which makes you more creative? – Crew blog


Buckminster Fuller  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminster_Fuller – Huge influence on geodesic domes


“Biosphère Montréal” by Cédric THÉVENET. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biosph%C3%A8re_Montr%C3%A9al.jpg#/media/File:Biosph%C3%A8re_Montr%C3%A9al.jpg


“Géode V 3 1” by No machine-readable author provided. Papy77 assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:G%C3%A9ode_V_3_1.gif#/media/File:G%C3%A9ode_V_3_1.gif

We were able to show the work in two of the few planetariums in the world that support art servers – the Denver museum of Nature and Science has a planetarium approximately 25 metres across  (the biggest imax screen in the world is 29m). The other venue was the absolutely amazing Fort Collins Museum of Discovery ( I have to thank Ben and Sierra in particular at this point for their support, knowledge and hospitality). I have started looking into building my own geodesic dome (potentially 3m across so only one projector is needed) but as part of an installation (for example the viewer walks into a pitch black space – within it a Murmuration of Light would be playing appearing to hover in 3D space in part of the room) – potential fabric sculpture or dome – early days on this but have been talking to the workshop and other lines of enquiry.


We sometimes worked within a mini dome in a space underground, below the museum in Denver - this dome used one projector. [This is a picture of me losing my mind trying to figure out the surround sound soundscape and channels - a massive positive of collaborating with a good friend - they will continue to take the piss out of you at all times.] This mini dome, built by Timmy Edens (domemasters.com), used a fan to pull a fabric dome taught

We sometimes worked within a mini dome in a space underground, below the museum in Denver – this dome used one projector. [This is a picture of me losing my mind trying to figure out the surround sound soundscape and channels – a massive positive of collaborating with a good friend – they will continue to take the piss out of you at all times.] This mini dome, built by Timmy Edens (domemasters.com), used a fan to pull a fabric dome taught

Here’s a link to some examples of immersive art (note that a few of them involve domes and the others involve light) https://ravenectar.com/blog/8-immersive-art-installations-will-blow-mindKusama is in there, who I have referred to before – some of her work is magic! She likes circles too. Other examples of immersive work ( which I feel like some of my work is becoming part of) I want to explore further include Blind Light by Antony Gormley and further works by artists Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell both of whom I talked about in my first essay. The latter two using architecture to frame nature directly and Blind Light an example of creating an immersive space that the viewer enters. The same is true of Carlos Cruz-Diez – in particular his ongoing work Chromosaturation which I experienced at the Hayward Gallery a couple of years ago as part of the Light Show – it was an amazing space to be in, an example of a piece of digital phenomena in my opinion – I guess all artwork, when seen in real life, is a different experience to seeing a reproduction (Rothko jumps to mind) of it but a 3D space is harder to replicate (until virtual reality becomes more commonplace and that still won’t be the same) – watching a film of a humpback whale is very different to being next to one in a tiny boat – you see more on the television but experience less.

Projections and artificial light are another part of an artist’s materials that we should be adding to our collection of pencils, brushes, etching plates and other physical materials – composition and communication will remain fundamental to illustration and art (the most important elements really) – but this world of virtual reality, of composing pixels and light waves is simply another thing in the things we should be utilising more – this piece of work, maybe, is a sculpture but one made of light and sound (it is transient rather than physical, an experience – a digital piece of nature) – an attempt at a digital version of a stroll in the woods.


This project has been an incredibly steep learning curve – my brain feels pretty addled, and I’m knackered to be honest, but it’s been amazing to learn so much. I am (secretly) pretty chuffed with the end result and want to push it further. I want to learn more about digital projection and video mapping – I think that this aspect of creative production has a bigger role to play amongst the world of immersive installations. I also think that the digital mediums need to be applied to more environmental art (‘eco-art) with gusto – no more sticking leaves around puddles – audience exposure to images and sensory experiences, to immersion – to moving image where the viewer stops just being the viewer but becomes part of the image (research needed into people already doing this). I want to build on Chemical Archipelago with what I have learned, with more immersion. To highlight the fact we are part of the natural world and all the processes involved I think that one way we should do this is to embrace the rapidly evolving technology that exists – don’t just leave it with the guys who’ll use it to sell cars, or disappear totally into alternate reality role playing games – that stuff isn’t going to help what’s occurring. Artistic communication. 3D projection could be combined with more and more layers of light, of data, of atmosphere – entire artificial digital ecosystems built/grown in internal spaces – digital ecosystems built to remind you to go outside. I hope that Murmuration of Light is another step in the right direction – part of some kind of digital ecology – part of some kind of framework.

Work on screenprints for the crowdfunder/explore ways of working with some of the stills from the piece in print (laser cuts, etchings etc)

Immersive installation plans/Geodesic dome construction possibilities/locations

More dome pieces/ dome festivals to enter: http://fulldome-festival.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/FDF2016_SubmissionGuidelines_v1.pdf and http://starrylab.cz/ips-ffb2016/?page_id=174

Learn more about video mapping

Venice collaboration with Bram

Meeting with Eden Project