Exploring plastic::

After successful workshop in laser cutting with cardboard i had a confidence to execute shape in my chosen material- a plastic perspex. This material can be widely obtained and is relatively cheap. I bought 4 A4 sheets of 2mm thick clear acrylic perspex for £1 each from e-Bay. I chose to use this material because it is friendly with laser cutter, lightweight and with possibility to be altered in shape.

Laser cutting session went very smoothly. I used my knowledge gained in previous workshop and even managed to finish everything without teacher’s help. He noted that i am a very fast learner. This image shows a laser cutting in progress on the perspex sheet. It still has protective layer of coating on which is in green colour. The sheet it self is transparent.

 I cut two exemplars of the face, one for testing and one for the final work. It crucial to do as many tests as possible to acquire accomplished results. My tests will involve shape and coating and possibly some modifications of the surface to see which one looks better with projections on it.

I treated plastic pieces with the heat gun and altered their shape.

The reason why is because it would give the overall 3-dimension feel to the face. Even though by looking at it from the front it would give the feel of the face, added relief would make the projection look more interesting rather than when projected on a flat surface. So i had two objectives for making these pieces 3D, firstly to emphasise the real characteristics of the face and to achieve interesting platform for visuals.

Before covering them with paint I overlaid them on the stage floor.

I wanted to run a small test where i project on transparent shapes. It was no doubt that projection would not stay on the surface but i was just curious how would it look anyway. The results were eye watering and i absolutely adored the blurry morph-like light projection which reached the wall through the pieces of plastic. Suddenly an idea appeared into my head to project on whole face and keep it transparent. But then it would not be my original idea at first place which was about projections on the face, not through the face even though they looked very appealing:

It was rather clear to me that i have to cover these plastic pieces with white paint in order to catch the projection. But i wanted to experiment first.
I decided to scratch the surface of one side, and both, scratch and rub white paint into those engravings and experiment with that, i made few different examples by spraying pieces with white paint in different techniques and from different sides, i wanted to cover as many possibilities as i could. Here are some test pieces without projections:

— and with projections:

The piece above has only partly been sprayed with white paint and the piece underneath has a solid spray from one side. The projection side i left unsprayed and i scratched it with sharp tool.

After analysing all of these examples i came to certain observations:

[: :] All pieces which had insufficient paint sprayed didn’t prove clear visuals. Places where it was left untouched let the projection reach the back wall. Nice effect but not intended.

[: :] Where spray paint had been applied from one side and hung so that unsprayed side was facing projection, again, proved to be unsuccessful. The unsprayed side was too shiny and therefore reflective and made visuals look poorly, unclear and bit blurry.

[: :] Scratched pieces looked best when have been treated with paint. It looked very nice from the close up but in large scale they trapped the clarity of the visuals. Again, as a light effect they looked very amusing but was useless in my aim to achieve distinctive visual pattern.

The conclusion was:

[X] Spray piece with matte white paint and let the projection shine straight onto it, avoid reflection or obscurity caused by damaged surface. Simple as that.

[vimeo vimeo.com/32931187]
The whole face become blunt as uncanny sheet of white paper.


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