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You are probably here because you received a piece of paper from me. HELLO I am writing this on Thursday, November 24.... a very full day. Probably on Sunday I can come back and fill this page full of descriptions and links about my projects. For now... SPOKEN at www.gallery.sg this was created with Eugene Soh and is full of art and writing. It requires a 10 meg download, which is free. Beach Road You'll need a VR viewing device to see this short film which was featured at the 2015 Brisbane Film Festival and nominated for Best Experimental Film at the 2016 Las Vegas VR Fest. Descriptions of my books including videos and reviews. Please consider taking a look at my crowdfunding projects for a Tiong Bahru poster AND a book on the way that technology has affected cinematography. And, scattered throughout this blog are posts about art, post full of photography, short stories and posts about all kinds of things. THANKS FOR STOPPING BY! Stephen Black
Eugene Soh! The Dude! One of the artists in Singapore that always makes things interesting and makes interesting things. Intelligent but without pretensions, Eugene is also a geek/hacker with a sense of humor who knows how to keep it user-friendly. I have been very lucky to work with him several times. SPOKEN is a gem of a project that has been chugging along on the digital underground for over a year. There is plenty of SPOKEN info elsewhere on this blog. These photos are from Eugene's presentation about The Second Coming, his show at Chan-Hampe gallery, which starts on February 18, 2016. Finally, I have to say that Eugene shared a video which is probably the most moving Singaporean film I have seen.
Here is the take-away of this post: if you plan on sharing a phone display VR project with people in the same physical space, make sure you have the appropriate number of viewers and phones that have been tested and have enough battery power. That's pretty simple, right? Any professional would agree with that. However, the situation described can exist only with economic support. How many of us can afford to have ten, maybe more, mobile phones loaded and viewers? The rest of this post describes my experiences in a "no budget" VR sharing situation and includes observations that will interest anyone doing VR screening events without a big budget; people like artists, galleries, independent filmmakers and nonprofit organisations. Background: Once Beach Road was live on Google Play, the opportunity to do an exhibition presented itself. Although there was no budget and no gear, I decided to do it. I thought that I could borrow/get cardboard viewers from hiverlab and would be able to find a few Android phones with a 4.1 OS. Also, I suggested, via Facebook and other means, that if anyone could download Beach Road before coming that it would be great, helping us to show more people with less waiting. Results: We got by by the skin of our teeth. The night of the opening, about 100 people came and probably 70 people saw Beach Road. Eugene Soh, The Dude, was one of those who had successfully downloaded and he kindly shared his phone. Ender (CEO of hiverlab) guided many people through their first VR experience. Due to lack of phones and battery power, not everyone saw Beach Road. Hopefully they enjoyed the kuehs, the beer, the prints on display and the music of Amith Narayan and Justin Bannister (kind of a 3how thing) and, at times, Lee Wen. Side note: Jean Marks Norihiko Nagai, CEO of Start 360 flew in from Japan to see Norm Black. He brought with him an Oculus and a collection of 360 Japanese projects he had curated. Fantastic, though I have to say the Oculus he brought with him reminded me of TV displays from the last century! The little dots! Aargh! Luckily he was able to see Beach Road on a Sony Xperia. 4K 360 video, beautifully displayed. Yes! Based on Jean Marks's experiences, it is presently quite troublesome to watch Google Play 360 videos in Japan. After much testing, the most reliable phones seem to be Sony's Xperia Z1f and Z Ultra. (From an email from Jean Marks: I think devices using CPU SnapDragon800 or later can play the movie.) Related to Jean Mark's notes about the difficulty of finding a device to play Beach Road properly, I should add that, in general VR is still very unknown in Singapore. FWIW, the government of Singapore does its best to keep the IT infrastructure solid and the country has one of the highest GDPs in Asia. At the time of this writing (September 2015) most people that I met had very little knowledge or experience with 360 VR. Plus, it was no simple matter to find a phone that could play, let alone headsets. I am very positive about the future of 360VR, but, more than ever, I am skeptical about 2016 being a boom year for VR. In this country at least, there must be a huge number of phones to be bought and desirable content produced. Note 1: Although I am experienced in gamemaking, this post reflects my interest in VR storytelling. And, yes, I know that they are not automatically mutually exclusive. Note 2. Perhaps if the Beach Road app were on iTunes, things would have been easier. However, at least twice, Beach Road has not been allowed into iTunes, with no reason given. At present, Google Play says that "four people" have reviewed Beach Road, though only three are displayed; all reviews have given Beach Road five stars. Note 3. In the future, rentable, inexpensive phones may make public displays easier. Here is a video I just discovered, one by J. David Sundstrom
Norm Black is the name of my exhibition at Mettlework Art Space, from September 3-6, 2015. I will be showing a VR short film created with Hiverlab, a virtual gallery created with Eugene Soh and involving 40 artists and writers, a conceptual piece with kuehs and black and white prints of Tiong Bahru. I will do a reading. 3how will play, at least once Finally, there will be appropriated photographs of the bottoms and sides of anchored ships Please note: Norm Black is also my dad's name. He sells books. I always thought his name would be a great name for a book, band or exhibition. NORM BLACK FACEBOOK PAGE OK, first an explanation of what 's going on. Norm Black is being put together very quickly as I soon hope to return to an almost hermit-like existence while I complete a novel called Bali Wave Ghost. I have been planning to start writing on September 10. Less than two weeks ago, Beach Road went online. It soon became apparent that many small screenings would need to be arranged, as opposed to renting a theatre or art space. A VR movie is meant to be viewed with a viewer, also called a HMD. Which means many HMDs have to be bought OR many Android phones have to be found so that they can fit into the Cardboard viewers which Hiverlab has. Moving the story along, I put out a call, looking for spaces. Boom! Dennis Tan, who is very familiar with Mettlework and Bruce Quek from Mettlework both responded. So that's how it started. The work to be shown/what's happening: Beach Road VR movie (5 minutes) SPOKEN Virtual Gallery 3how Sept. 3, maybe another night or two. 3how on FB Depth images Taste, Trial and Error (kueh: edible sculptures/conceptual art) Dissolving Tiong Bahru (experimental black and white prints) Words were the first VR: a reading by Stephen Black Sunday, 7pm -9pm Plus a surprise or two... Exhibition Hours: Thursday, September 3 7pm-11pm Friday 10 am- 3pm Saturday 10am-11pm Sunday 10am-11pm Location: 50 Lorong 17. Closest station: Aljunied Questions: Stephen Black: bookmerah %at & gmail
September 3, 4, 5 and 6... at Mettlework What's in store: Beach Road, a pioneering VR movie will be shown. Beach Road is a co-production between hiverlab and Stephen Black. SPOKEN will be projected live. Taste, Trial and Error: the kuehs are back! Tiong Bahru prints: black and white lens based artworks. Details soon to follow. Depth: appropriated artworks, back in the spotlight. Words Were the First VR: talk and reading by Stephen Black. Music! 3how? Details and times to be posted soon.
post. Singapore has recently been very helpful to me. For example, because of an amazing series of talks organized by SCAPE, I was able to get up to speed on 4K, thanks to three great presentations by Matt Seigel. Twice I was able to hear Karl Soule go over some of the numerous delights in the Adobe Creative Cloud. I heard Kazz Sato speak about sound! I was in the same room as Royston Tan!Nicholas Chee! These talks really brought me up to speed, helping me get a sense of the current state of indie film production. Very important, especially after my years away from video, when I was in "exile" in Bali. And more: last week I attended a three-in-one Meetup: Singapore Creative Coding Meetup Singapore StoryCode Meetup Singapore-Virtual-Reality-Augmented-Reality-Meetup The presenters were: Himanshu Shah, speaking about a Virtual Roller Coaster. Himanshu Shah has been in the production industry for the last 15 years and is involved in a number of companies. Amongst the companies he is currently involved in is one that does stereoscopic 3D video production. His latest company is involved in the creation of VR Rides. Hrishi Olickel, speaking about a low-cost alternative to the Oculus Drift Went to ACS(Independent), graduated in 2012 for IB in the top 1% Currently majoring in Computer Science at Yale-NUS College focusing on Machine Learning and Big Data Founder of the Yale-NUS Hackerspace, hackathon enthusiast AND...Eugene Soh!Eugene spoke about unconventional uses of VR, including a very special project... www.dude.sg Eugene Soh is a Singaporean fine artist who happens to be a programming genius. When he isn't travelling the world, he is at home making apps or creating epic photographic renditions of famous renaissance paintings. Eugene has recently taken a strong interest in harvesting energy from the sun (solar power, because he hates paying bills) and may be moving in that direction. All of these experiences really increased my knowledge about all of the changes taking place in cinematography. However, having information is not the same as having experience... which is why I am very excited to be involved with a couple of projects with hiverlab... but I will elaborate on these developments in another post...Towards a New Cinematography is the latest title for the book that I committed myself to with this