working artists


Jen Zen

artist statement | technical statement | process


Steven Schk-lne invited JEN ZEN( to work with his proprietary software at the Caltech Multi-Res Modeling Lab. "Featured in Emerging Technologies at LA SIGGRAPH 1999, Surface Drawing© is unprecedented, fostering free conceptual thinking in translating motion into form. Steven is shown using a CyberGlove( in the interactive, semi-immersive, 3D environment of The Responsive Workbench. Stereoscopic CrystalEyes( glasses provide illusion of depth that make freehand drawing strokes appear to float in space." (Schk-lne S., Pruett M. and Schr-der P., "Surface Drawing: Creating Organic 3D Shapes with the Hand and Tangible Tools" Proceedings of CHI 2001.)

JEN ZEN( invited Sheriann Ki Sun Burnham to collaborate in pushing Surface Drawing© in a direction for which it was not intended. Next to the Responsive Workbench, the artists built a temporary platform for drawing live models. Wearing CrystalEyes(, Sheri traced Judith Moncreiff (a respected digital art pioneer) from head to toe with the CyberGlove( - politely avoiding tickle spots. Coordinating head/hand distance and movement minimized apparent multiple perspective distortion. Eliminating movement of the stereoscopic glasses yielded greater "realism", so JEN ZEN( chose not to wear the glasses while drawing Tyler Stallings. Instead, the CrystalEyes(, were taped to the ceiling above the model, which established a fixed vanishing point for motion capture. In the spirit of traditional blind contour drawing, the intention was not to look at the virtual form as it was created, but to focus on the interactive, kinesthetic aspect of cybertouch drawing. The curious 3D form created was alien, anthropomorphic but not human.

Different views of the Tyler figure are central characters in digital prints "BADWATER" and "HOTLICKS". The experimental life drawing was exported from the Responsive Workbench as an .iv file, then converted to edit as a 3D vrml file in Bryce 4.0. The figure was texture-mapped, and keyed to a different light source before editing as a .psd file in PhotoShop 5.5. The flame panel in "HOTLICKS" is 100% pure digital painting, in no way photographic. Landscape backdrops, however, were originally shot in Death Valley with a 35mm SLR Canon F-1 camera and 28-mm lens. Highly realistic effects were achieved using PhotoShop tools to edit the work, as only a painter trained in old school tradition can. Finishing layers in both works were filtered in Painter 6.0. Recreating human scale was important, so large format digital prints were output on a ColorSpan Display Maker XII at Jack Duganne's Atelier, using Epson 1200/ MIS archival ink.