Jesse Manfra

Final Complete 4.22.15

The project I originally set out to work on took many different forms for various reasons throughout its life-cycle, however; I am very pleased with the product I delivered on. Environmental awareness is important to me and hiking is a deep passion. This project allowed me to put something in the field that grabs the attention of hikers in the San Gabriel Mountains and shows them why and how protecting our natural resources is vital.

The image along with the audio component play and load very quickly and I am pleased with how clean my model came out. As well the poster I made is elegant and simple while driving my point home. It has a modern yet pleasing art style and clearly draws attention to both the DAQRI app and the use of a smart phone to view the image. I wanted to make this clear to the first time user that will be viewing the work. I distinctly made the model pop off the image quite a bit so that while on an advisory board by a trail the model not only comes off the poster but well off the board and at the viewer.

I see myself using what I have learned and applied in the course in future works for both personal and public viewing.

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Monarch Poster

Monarch Poster

Crafting The Final Project 4.10.15

123D Catch

123D Catch

The final project is coming along nicely and I am proud to know that this work will lead to more people being aware of the loss of the Southern California Grizzly, the sad life of Monarch and the dire need to preserve and conserve the San Gabriel Mountains.

To create the model of the sticker I hung it from by ceiling and placed a soft light next to it and then too my stills. The final result came out extremely clean. Because only one side of the sticker features Monarch I simply duplicated it, then reversed the image and placed in on the other side so in the field it will appear the sticker had two identical sides.

DAQRI

DAQRI

I decided this project would work best on a poster that will be placed on a notice board at the start of a trail. This will allow for people unaware of the project to see it, learn what DAQRI is and then view the image. This is also more appropriate, because the head of a trail is more likely to have cell reception.

Monarch Poster

Monarch Poster

The poster provides some brief text based information and encourages user to download and use DAQRI to view the image on the right. There they will hear my interview with Dan Clarke about the loss of the grizzly and the impact that has had on the environment as well as where one can purchase the 3D sticker which will also be visible.

Poster in the field on a notice board in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Poster in the field on a notice board in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Editing Audio for Final Project 4.6.15

Cleaning up audio in Garageband

Cleaning up audio in Garageband

As part of my project I recorded some audio in the field with key environmental leaders or spoke in detail about what the loss of the Southern California Grizzly means to the ecosystem and the state of the environment here overall. Along with forest fires and terrible drought things aren’t looking up for the San Gabriel Mountains. Hopefully projects like these can do something to change that.

To record the audio I used my BLUE:Snowball microphone, a handy mic that can prove just as effective in the field as iBlue: Snowball micn a studio when used correctly. I had a hard time scoring an audio recorder from the school so this was my next best option. While not as convenient the quality is far superior. This is a microphone worth considering for anything from voice over work, to instruments to field work.

Moving forward I will be combining this audio with the image of the Grizzly Bear sticker in the hopes to raise an awareness and understanding of the situation in the San Gabriel Mountains and for endangered species and to hopefully persuade those willing to at least buy a sticker which donates money towards environmental conservation.

Southern California Wildlife Stickers 3.28.15

Each sticker donates proceeds to conservation

Each sticker donates proceeds to conservation

Last weekend I spent some time doing conservation work in the San Gabriel Mountains. Much of the work involved cleaning up trails and working with trappers to rid the region of invasive species. During my time I got the chance to speak with Dan Clarke, the leader of the group and who works closely with the National Forest Service. He was very familiar with Monarch the Grizzly.

I asked Dan what he thought of the loss of the Southern California Grizzly and he told me, “That it is an absolute travesty. In fact, had the grizzly not been driven out we wouldn’t be having as much of an issue with invasive species.”  What he told me next was the most fascinating. Mr. Clarke works closely with a group that makes apparel, stickers etc. wherein much of the proceeds go towards various causes. Dan has been selling stickers with an image of Monarch at National Forest gift shops such as Yosemite and Muir Woods National Park.

I picked up a sticker for myself and would like to create a model from the sicker. I hope to place this back into the world at a few trail heads within the San Gabriels along with audio from Mr. Clarke explaining the project, the environment in regards to the loss of the Southern California Grizzly, and where people can pick a sticker up if they are interested.

Why Are The San Gabriel Mountains So Important 3.22.15

San Gabriel Mountains Overlooking L.A.The San Gabriel Mountains are just a 90 minute drive from Los Angeles. The mountain range provides 70% of the L.A. area’s open space as well as a good majority of its fresh water, a resource that’s becoming ever more scare. The mountains suffered heavily from a station wild fire in 2009 and is still reeling from the effects. This range was also the home to Monarch the Grizzly Bear. The range has suffered many losses over the years, but there is still hope.

This past October President Obama declared 350,000 acres of the San Gabriels a National Monument to be both protected and conserved. He did so as an executive order, without the approval of congress. Clearly a measure that had to take place and one that did not have the fortune of time and deliberation.

Land designated as a National MonumentAs part of my community service commitment I will be working with a group through The National Forest Service to help clean up trails and conserve wetland areas. I hope to ask the individuals leading the efforts why this land is so important and what they think of the loss of the Southern California Grizzly. I would like to capture a few interviews and be able to place their avatar along with their audio into a geo-tracked piece that hikers can view and listen to as they explore the trails.

Things We’ve Lost:Work So Far at LACMA

My Lost Object

Air Guitar

For my lost object I chose to take an abstract approach with a very physical object. By using DAQRI to view this image you can see my guitar. For me, though I have this guitar with me in Los Angeles, I have not had the time nor known the places to play open mics as I do back home. I can play in my dorm room but have still felt a disconnect between me and my music, a part of my life which brings me extreme peace and comfort. Thus I feel that I have not lost my guitar but have lost my serenity.

Monarch the Bear: The Last Grizzly of L.A.

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According to an article by Nathan Masters on KCET.org, the short faced bear and the megafauna which it preyed upon became extinct around 12,000 years ago. He theorizes that this was due to both over-hunting with the arrival of humans as well as climate change. This change however lead to the explosion of the grizzly bear, an opportunistic animal willing to eat any fruits, nuts or animals it could to survive.

Grizzlies in Southern California flourished among riparian zones (along rivers) and in deserts where its prey had few places to hide. The bear was even known to feed on beached whales that found themselves along the beaches of the Pacific.

According to Master,

            “Place names attest to the bear’s wide distribution. In the San Bernardino     Mountains, Bear Valley and Big Bear Lake derive their names from the abundance of grizzlies Benjamin D. Wilson spotted on an expedition through the marshy depression. And in Orange County, according to local lore, Oso Parkway recalls the grizzlies that once roamed the area’s foothills.”

The grizzly flourished even among Native Americans however the arrival of Europeans in the 1800s would eventually lead to their demise. The bears presented a threat to their cattle and sheep and were fear, donning the name ursus horibilus and were soon thereafter hunted for sport. Some were even placed in to fights against bulls and other animals.

By 1889 the last known grizzly of the Los Angeles area named Monarch had been captured by a reporter hired by William Randolf Hearst. Shortly after that all grizzlies in Southern California were gone. The legacy Monarch would leave behind can be seen on the state flag of California. His stuffed pelt was used as the model in a sad an ironic reminder of the borders we place on lands we selfishly horde for the human race. Monarch is now housed in the California Academy of Sciences pelt lab.

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This is the California Republic flag from 1846, so the bear is not Monarch. The bear on the California State Flag is designed from Monarch’s pelt.

Monarch's database infro at the mammology lab

Breaking Ground at LACMA

VR viewing device at the LACMA lab.

In a nicely lit florescent studio filled with periodicals and art history books we began to break ground at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). With long birch tables, white walls and windows opening up to a manicured lawn and fountain one would think we were at a newly opened Apple store than in a museum. We embarked on building the foundation of this installation and lucky for us we were provided a space that encourages creativity and risk. Even more fortunate was that we were still able to connect with our Boston group 3,000 miles and 60 degrees away.

To start we began by testing out the VR technology and seeing how it would translate into a public intervention. We have been close to this work for a few weeks now, but a bigger challenge would be confronting what is still foreign and experimental technologyIMG_2917with new audience. Fresh eyes will be the true test of this project as we merge classical museum space with a public art performance. We discussed wearing lab coats and gloves on the days of installation which, while also adding to the aesthetic of the art form, will also help prepare our audience with a proper mindset. This is experimental and will take some imagination and ingenuity, both from us and our public testers.

We diligently worked, either by figuring out logistical concerns or by building the components needed for the project. It was nice to see our work starting to find its home within the museum and will be even more rewarding to see it running on the plaza as a host to many more people.

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Moving forward we will be thinking more about the things we have lost. What we create will range from literal objects to profound metaphorical statements that will hopefully enlighten and unify the human consciousness and the human experience. What we are doing is highly technical and many of us are still working out the pathways of the IMG_2911various applications and resources necessary for such an endeavor. However, what we will accomplish is half scientific and half artistic. We are all here or something much more than a 4 credit course.

Creating Avatars (Not the James Cameron Kind)

 

Capturing photos of myself to be used in creating a 3D avatar.

38 photos. 38 photos were all it took to take me from a terrace at Emerson College Los Angeles to a 3-Dimensional rendering of myself. The skies were overcast and the sun was lightly diffused through the clouds. The space around me was wide open. The result was a very clear and sharp rendering of myself in just a matter of hours. With my backpack ready for any adventures that lay ahead we took the photos to the lab so see what we could make of them.

3D render created in 123D-Catch.

By bringing the files into the simple and intuitive 123D Catch by Autodesk we were able to recreate both myself and my surroundings. We had taken a step into the uncanny valley, some bits of my face were choppy, but for the most part this avatar was shaping up nicely. But, however nice the surrounding terrace is, we had to remove it from the render to get a clean looking model.

A cleaned up version of the render created in Maya.

By bringing that file into Maya, also by Autodesk, we were able to delete surrounding spaces and get down to a fine level of detail on individual polygons, cleaning up the avatar as best as possible. The result is a recreation of myself and I have to say that the feeling is far removed from anything I have experienced yet with VR. Until you have seen the digital representation of you it is hard to formulate the words. It’s as if that persona we all have on twitter and Facebook now had a 3D presence, one that can’t walk and talk just yet, but is a stand-in for all my bad jokes and flowery travel posts on social media. It truly gives the sense that there is more than the world apparent, but multiple worlds which we all seamlessly flow in and out of on a regular basis. I wonder if my avatar is better at calculus?

So Many L.A.yers

Many of us visit museums as a way of exploring and broadening the mind. And why not. For most, museums represent a healing spring of ideas filled with both subjective and objective beauty. An oasis away from the due diligence with which we monitor the rest of our day. An escape into something greater than ourselves to be either contemplated or simply appreciated.

Museums then are made all the more important in a sprawl of a city such as L.A. Where a turn down a street made up of high rises and and tech fueled coffee shops can land you in a quiet, starkly different residential space. The city is oozing with culture yes, however that culture is everywhere and all at once. Unlike other carefully planned diorama like urban centers, L.A. seems to have expanded exponentially, throwing caution to the wind in a manifest destiny crusade towards the coast. What remains is the criss crossed path of old and new, function and stimulation.

However, art in the public sector ,outside of museums and institutions, can be hard to come by, or even lacking in the same impact. Statues, which might otherwise garner high regard in a museum, are simply a piece of the landscape, a landscape patrolled mainly by passerbys in eco-friendly people movers than by those on foot who may have the time to value such works. Among this sprawl is a bastion of hope, a chance of viewing art in our everyday lives and keeping that part of brain conscious.

Visualizing new layers of L.A. using the Layar app and an iPhone.

Visualizing new layers of L.A. using the Layar app and an iPhone.

Through the use of virtual reality I was able to walk along Hollywood Boulevard and see the 3-Dimensional models of those who participated in this project. By using Layar, an app which effectively places a new layer on my map, I was not only able to see street names and landmarks, but locations where our installations were already up. And for a moment I was able to lift myself from the real layer of Starbucks and tourism and re-immerse myself into one of art and creativity. I am excited to see where this project goes from here. After all, they say we’ve already explored the known world. Why not just add another layer.

 

 

 

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