(click on thumbnail to view a larger version)



Jen Zen (a.k.a. Jen Grey) & Sheriann Ki Sun Burnham

CSULB
California, USA
jgrey@csulb.edu
Centaur
66" x 100"

Artist Statement: THE COMPUTER IS MORE THAN A TOOL. IT IS A MEDIUM THAT TRANSCENDS TRADITIONAL BOUNDARIES BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION.

The "Centaur" is a mythic metaphor suited to the fusion of identity in human-computer interaction. The centaur bridged the age of men and giants, as the cyborg now bridges the age of human and AI. The cyborg in "Centaur" is a life-sized 3D drawing imaginatively developed in the semi-immersive computer environment of the Caltech Workbench. My work would not have been possible even a few years ago, yet respects influences by great artists of the past millennium…Ansel Adams, Magritte, Picasso and Severini in particular. Although entirely fictional, my alien characters become hyper-real in context with hi-tech computer composites of Death Valley, affording poignant speculation on the paradoxical nature of life on earth.

My eerie cyborgs are as much a product of computer interaction as of my own action, a consequence of alpha testing Steven Schkolne's proprietary "Surface Drawing" system (fostered by the Caltech Multi-Res Modeling Group). Tracing live action models with a Cyberglove® yielded surprisingly wonderful characters. In process, the computer greatly simplified the alien life drawings you see in "Dante's View" and "Visitation". The aviator's jet skis in "Weed" were actually drawn by the computer as a default action. Joys and frustrations in the creative process helped define the functional nature of the experimental interface.

The life-sized, 3D drawings appeared as ribbons of light beamed from my fingers as I worked. This was astonishingly practical, yet I often worked without looking. That way I could work faster than the computer tracked my actions. Strokes were shaped by hand gesture and curvature, which could be erased when fingers were held in different positions. Compound strokes were joined and modified as 3D drawings developed.

For controlled results, I adjusted the tempo and complexity of freehand drawing to the processing speed of the computer motion capture system. Ambidextrous sculptural drawing ability was fundamental to rotating and resizing forms with one hand, while drawing with the other. "Surface Drawing" is responsive to spontaneous kinesthetic gesture; in ways CAD programs are not. This is uniquely significant, because useful forms of HCI need to retain vital aspects of human touch.