We did so many drawings!
I say 'we' because the robot and I are a partnership now.
I can't realise my artistic dreams without it and it can't operate without my drawings.
I nailed the drawing size issue (pulley size was set wrong so they weren't rotating enough, so the pen didn't move as far as it was supposed to)
I re-measured the wall for the 5th time and got another set of numbers (the correct ones)
I fed the robot the G code of my face and it worked really well. (Of course)
THEN I figured it was time to do some actual drawings instead of my face.
SO in Inkscape I converted some drawings to vectors and simplified the paths so there's slightly less lines to draw. The images are saved as .dxf (Drawing Interchange Format), then opened in the drawbot app on my Linux machine, converted to G code, saved as .ngc.
Then I can open the .ngc file in the drawbot app on my windows netbook which is connected to the robot. It's a terribly messy work around but until I can get Linux to see the robot in the java app that's how it goes. Ideally the drawbot app on the netbook should just take the .ngc, convert it to G code and draw.
I set the robot to draw A1 size, double checked it knew where the paper ended (so I don't draw on the wall) Everything was looking good so I hit the draw button. Then shit got weird. It was supposed to be drawing a circle but it clearly wasn't. The app keeps track of where it's at with the drawing and it wasn't matching up to what was happening on the wall. I stopped the drawing, double checked all the measurements in the drawbot app and gave it a different image. It drew the outline of the image correctly but when filling in the detail it was all over the show.
Naturally I thought the computer has just spat out some dodgy G Code, no problem. I can generate some more. After all, the files have been through a few conversions; .XCF > .PNG > .DXF > .NGC. So I re-set the robot and fed it the G code of my face, knowing that it has drawn from that code before with no issues. Annnnd that's where the logic ended. Robot ended up drawing my face stretched horizontally, then it decided that its 'home' point was at the bottom of the wall, not the centre where I set it to.
At this point I've got no idea what the fuck it's up to, given I haven't changed anything other than paper size. I'm going to re-flash the Arduino with the drawbot firmware and give it another go tomorrow. There is no logical reason this will work given I didn't alter anything important. But with windows you never know.
I'll also continue working on getting the setup to run under Linux. This is where I'm at:
The Arduino IDE under Linux can see the robot but the java based drawbot app can't. (Even if I run the app as root) I think it's something to do with serial port permissions under Linux.
To date I have:
For now I'm just trying to get my main computer to pick up the Arduino in the java app, when it does I will re-create the setup on an old laptop. The robot will never run under Linux on the netbook because the HDD is formatted as NTFS in order to dual boot with windows. Linux won't run a java app when the HDD file system is NTFS for security reasons that Google says can't be bypassed. Linux file systems are typically formatted to ext3 or ext4. Not a lot would give me more pleasure than removing the windows partition for good but it does come in handy twice a year. (Also borrowing a laptop to test something in windows means using windows 10 and I struggle to even find the control panel)
In the long run it's important for me to get the drawbot running solely on Linux as I'm strongly against closed source computing. What's the point of creating an entirely open source robot but it has to run through windows? The only reason I keep a small windows partition on my netbook is for testing things like powerpoint presentations which don't always port over from Linux well (which I have to use at art school occasionally)
End goal is to return to this:
Turns out the issue with the robot was the shit G code generation done in the app under windows. Another reason I avoid windows at all costs.
Generating the G code under a Linux OS, opening it under the app in windows is a functional work around for now. Generating G code for the images under windows adds weird functions to the start of the code, freaking the robot out. Despite doing it all within the robot's native app on both OS's, I've decided that Windows must be missing a dependency and I have no idea what it is. Linux will go 'Hey, I see you're after this package, in order for it to run you need these too, I'll go ahead and install them for you"
The remaining issue of drawing size stems from my poor math, and this is why:
It really needs a better name than that.
Anyway. It was all physically built. It moved and kinda drew images. Queue celebratory wines!
The software I was using to control the machine was terribly buggy and changing the variables of pen and pixel draw size etc was a nightmare. They would only sometimes change in the UI, I'd end up editing some values in notepad, then re-starting the app. Which took forever. In the end I gave up and found something better. This turned out to be a massive improvement - temporarily.
The image handling of the new program is amazing, it turns an image into a single line which is interpreted as a bunch of Gcode. (essentially X Y coordinates). I hit the draw button and it sprung into life, sounding like R2D2 on acid, as it was pointed out to me. The stepper motors were going way too fast causing a jittery line. No problem, I'll just go into the firmware code and set the speed a bit lower. And it hasn't worked since.
I've re-downloaded a fresh version of the firmware, uploaded it to the arduino and still it won't draw. I can hit various buttons in the software that tell it to move the pen left/right up/down and it complies. But as soon as I send it the Gcode to draw, it won't move. I'm at a total loss.
So I've relocated the moving parts home where I will continue to figure this all out while sitting around in my PJs, drinking cups of tea whilst listening to k.d. Lang and various show tunes in order to keep myself calm.
I will figure this out, it's just taking longer than expected.
I am so excited about this aspect of my masters project!
I'm building a giant polargraph/ V plotter. Basically a giant wall mounted drawing machine to draw my creepy mannequin drawings with. Because, well, why not? I get to indulge my inner computer nerd self with something other than fixing Linux OS bugs. And I can relate it to my masters project. It fits in really well in terms of my anti factory-ness. I am a one woman factory machine. I've created mannequins and (I'm in the process of creating) cups using methods based on factory mass producing, but on a much smaller scale. No matter how I do things, they never turn out the same even if I use a mold.
After a whole lot of research (and wine) I've found an suitable guide as a starting point. The whole setup is completely open source. Ergo it's no big secret on how the whole thing operates. I've been a huge fan of open source software/projects ever since I spent 3k on a laptop in '07 that ran Windows Vista for an entire month before getting fucked over with a virus of some sort. I've stuck with various versions of Linux ever since and taught myself how to fix bugs in the process.
I'm posting the process of building this polargraph as a way to remember where I got all the parts from and how I managed to pull it off. Also there aren't that many guides out there that my self taught nerd-ness can comprehend.
Polargraph in action:
Arduino Uno Clone Microcontroller + case
L293D Motor Shield Controller (Arduino uno compatible)
10m 6mm Timing Belt
2x GT2 gear pulleys
Stepper motor mounts
2 x Stepper Motor - Bipolar, 10V, 0.5 A/Phase (200 Steps/Rev)
Extra stuff as I don't have it lying around:
2 x Ribbon Crimp Connector
4.5m 10 wire Ribbon Cable
Variable voltage power supply
Laser cut gondola
I'll update this list as I find the last few things.
Building commences mid December 2015
The goal is to draw far bigger than this image which was printed on A0 paper
Cheap wine and blogging, my favorite pastime! Will I regret this in the morning? Probably not. Here goes!
I found this amazing comic a while back which I've nominated as the outline to the outline of my thesis only in pictures! As someone who loves and lives off potatoes, this encircles my life right now. It speaks to me.
Anyway, I was always non-publicly conflicted whilst creating all the fiberglass Ladies. Of course I'm all about diversity of bodies, love all bodies, accept all bodies, don't listen to the media and all that.
But I struggle to identify with any of this love and accept thy body business myself. Seriously people, there are bigger things in the world to worry about than whether your body is acceptable/worthy/whatever. Am I privileged because I had an upbringing that was never body focused? Definitely
When I was making the Ladies, I felt that I myself should have been on some journey to loving my body. But I wasn't. I'm not. I never will be. I neither love nor hate my body. It's a tool that assists me in doing things. Sometimes those things are amazing and sometimes stupid. This body is purely my vessel for moving through life at this time. Sure, I get pissed off when my back gets sore from sitting too long/lifting things I shouldn't. I should probably do some more yoga. Or something.
Does my apathetic attitude towards body positivity make my previous art projects slightly fraudulent? No. They resonate with people and highlight problems with the current range of mannequins available. (Don't try to convince me that plus sized mannequins are any better, because they are well and truly not) As I'm someone who collects mannequins I see faults in what's currently on offer. A wider range of body types in mannequin form is exactly what's needed. And they are pretty fucking wondrous. Not to mention a massive achievement (in killing my brain cells) I'm not against body positivity but I do think there is far too much pressure put on people to go through some quest to be positive about their bodies. Bodies in my view are an accepted fact of being a person. If nobody engaged with any of the crap the media discharges regarding fixing flaws, defying wrinkles, what you can and can't wear based on what fruit you're shaped like, they'd stop spouting it because it'd stop generating a profit.
The constant barrage of love thy body that's slowly taking over my various social media feeds is getting pretty fucking tiring. #bodyposi seems to be the latest cool hashtag to use. This drives me insane. It seriously sounds like your target audience is a bunch of giggling tweens. People regularly make hashtags whole sentences long, so why can't full and complete words be used for a two word hashtag? I'm starting to think the whole body positivity movement is just another guise for companies to sell stuff
Do I follow too many people/groups/organisations whose primary concern is body positivity? Are too many of these groups just taking the easy route and posting (or re-posting) content concerning only bodies? Or is the current state (of my experience) of feminism too centered on the body? There are bigger issues; why do people think feminism is no longer required because (to them) equality has been achieved.
So many questions.
Apparently you can't swear in a thesis or in the oral presentation I have to give in early 2016, so I'm going to post this here and reconstitute it in big words later.
Some 11 years ago, as an impressionable 18 year old I fell in love with the opening credits of a terrible TV show Nip/Tuck, the camera spanning over lines of identical mannequins, the music swooning 'make me beautiful.' And it was beautiful. All those identical taut fiberglass bodies. I was hooked to the show before I even knew what it was about. Maybe I should have smoked less weed as a teenager, who knows? Nip/Tuck revolves around a couple of surgeons running a plastic surgery practice who go around shagging women and fixing their flaws. How very un-fucking feminist. There are so many things wrong with that show that it deserves a whole blog post. Somehow I thought this show was cool even with my mother subtly shoving her feminist agenda down my throat.
So those opening credits began an addiction to collecting mannequins. My parents bought my first one during a family trip to Picton for Grandfather's funeral. The odd logic behind it was that my 3 other siblings had been bought something on the trip and I was yet to receive my gift (bribe) for coming along. (None of us knew our Grandfather that well, he disappeared to Picton to live on a yacht when we were very young, became a Freemason and was notoriously elusive) Weird shit goes on at a Freemason’s funeral. We had to give back their book of secrets and jewels after they figured out we had it.
I digress, after that first mannequin, shit got outta control. Trademe was a recent 'thing,' I had a disposable income (those were the days) Next thing you know 1 turned into 3 which became 5. I used to keep a log of their names, prices and previous homes. Now I just pretend they reproduce on their own and they can keep track of their own damn family tree. Whole mannequins turned in random heads, an assortment of hosiery legs in at least three different styles, the odd hand and a couple of butts. (That's just the parts I can remember) There's even a naked lady water fountain. I've never even had a pond to put that magnificent piece of fiberglass in. I do have a bath though...
Anyway, roll on 21ish, being a creative person with the idea in my head that I wasn't very academic (I failed high school English, math, science, biology, photography) and on the account that I assumed I couldn't hack art school, I headed off to polytech to do a Certificate in Creative Studies. Easy. I ended up not passing the whole course, as I refused to do the very small written component, a stupid essay on graffiti. (Pro tip - grow the fuck up before you to onto higher education, seriously) Aside from that, I made exceptionally creepy art with my arsenal of mannequin parts (that probably reflected more on my mental state at the time than anything else) The stencil from one piece still hangs in my house, it's the subtle beginning of the artist as an Angry Feminist.
After an 18 month stint living in Christchurch indulging my other addiction of regularly changing vehicles, I went crazy from not making 'stuff' and enrolled myself in Art School back in Dunedin. It never occurred to me to attend art school in Christchurch as most of my mannequins were still in Dunedin.
I spent the most part of my undergrad degree having no idea what the fuck I was up to. I nearly dropped out a couple of times. Even though I started creating art with mannequins back in 2007, it wasn't until the last 6 months of my bachelor degree that I got my shit together and birthed Finally something that made me go 'FUCK YEA'. This was around the same time that my mannequin collecting calmed down (a bit). I had finally clicked to all that feminist agenda installed in my brain as a teenager. (It only took 8 years, FFS) I had never questioned it because well, it's gospel, fact. But I'd never related it my mannequin collecting either.
MANNEQUIN BODIES ARE TERRIBLE! WHO LOOKS LIKE THAT?! WHAT IN THE FUCK AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE. Designed BY MEN to sell clothes to the masses but barely representational of 1% of the population. And from that point on in 2012 I was/am/forever and always will be an angry feminist. Amen.
A 12 month break saved some capital for the next project. Roll on the honours degree in 2014 (turns out I'm pretty fucking academic when I'm pissed off enough) This resulted in the birth of The Custom Mannequin Project and the end of my fiberglassing career. Seriously, that shit fucks you up. Now I rent the storage unit of nightmares and occupy an attic of horrors. Won't somebody, please buy the ladies!
Now, as it turns out, not only am I academic enough for a honours degree, I'm doing a masters degree as well. (Fiberglassing must not have killed as many brain cells as I thought) I am now the perpetual student, who has come to appreciate cheap wine and the stimulating effects of too much tea.
I'm yet to fully birth anything in 2015, but be warned, it's on its way. And it will be spectacular. And no, contrary to popular questions I will never make dude mannequins. Just no. There are enough men in the world without me making more, in every sense of the term. Seriously.
* I still collect mannequins and this does not make me a bad feminist.
I'm currently working on a small side project that supplements my main yet-to-figured-out masters project. I'm all about my feminist lifestyle and everyone else should be too. These cups are my feminist stories. This one features a drawing of me as a child and reads:
As a child I had matted hair. I wouldn't let any fucker near me to brush it.
Coming up next are stories detailing childhood mutilations of Barbie, Helen Reddy, failing 5th form math because, well, art and the experiences of sexism in my workplace.
This will be an ongoing project that expresses my life story. Hopefully it will incorporate the experiences of others along the way. (Share your stories with me people!)
Nothing like a splash of institutional sexism in ya local newspaper now is there? The Otago Daily Times published a list of 'Dunedin's Most Notable Residents' as a lead up to the Dunedin Heritage Festival.
NOT ONE OF THEM IS A WOMAN.
As outlined in this amazing blog post, it's not like they were short of options!!
The initial list included women, but they failed to make the final cut. Historians who complied the list said it was based on Dunedin as a 'physical place.' <---- What the hell does that even mean?
In a follow up article published on the 20th July, apparently ''with one person per decade, there wasn't space for women'' is a valid excuse. This implies that women aren't people! ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?
Give me a break.
There are a lot of pissed off people commenting about this via the ODT's Facebook page, but, naturally, they are yet to respond.
ODT, you've just successfully reminded everyone why we need feminism.
3 of my Ladies are on display for July @ Artzone (Hanover Street, Dunedin)
More photos to come, looking pretty at home in a shop window.
Still haven't figured out what to put in the hand of the red haired one. Suggestions...?
2 weeks until I start my Masters degree @ The Dunedin School of Art. So excited!
Sporadic rants of an angry queer feminist artist. Regular updates on Instagram