How Manta Ray was created: Notes from the Project Diary 2008

Sitting in the darkness staring at the black wall I am asking myself
- What is the source of Light and Sound and its nature?
- What is the relationship between physical and metaphysical light, visible and invisible light, audible and inaudible sound and how it can be revealed in space?
- How something that starts appearing as the projection of my consciousness can be 'downloaded' into the realm of physical world?
- What is the illusion and what are the means that help to create it?
This is not essentially a dark retreat, but this is a retreat into the unknown, with bare hands, open mind and ears tunes to the micro vibrations of the space.
Inside that room, which is a portal to all the possibles, I breathe darkness.
I drink it - it only becomes more textured each moment until finally the light reveals itself in a form. 


I have been working closely on the visual part with Perseu Madillo, 3D artist, who generously allowed a lot of experimentation during the process, visualizing the form according to my preliminary sketches.

The holographic technology of 3D video projection has more constraints than freedom. Therefore a great part of the film contains questioning the limits and the rules within which this technology is working. E.g. it is assumed that the camera is immovable and constantly shooting front view and the object itself moves and rotates in front of it, without breaking the frame of the imaginary screen. Instead of following that rules we decided to play with the camera and to transform it into the “drawing” source putting it behind the line while the latter is producing the drawing. In technical terms it is called ‘interactive creation’ (the camera creates the object instead of filming an already created one). Thus shifting the viewpoint I intended to create an opportunity to experience the shift in perception of being inside/outside of the system.

Sketch for Manta Ray
Original render of form during production of Manta Ray
Drawings from the book by Robert Lawlor Sacred Geometry
Sketch for Manta Ray
Sketch for Manta Ray
Drawings explaining electromagnetic field found on Internet

Sound was created through a collaboration with Barbara Lambert, sound artist, who was doing her MA at LCC at that time. The idea was to achieve the relationship between the space, light projection and the sound. I was particularly interested how the sounds could envelope and fill the space as well as manifest its qualities. I thought of having some noise ambient background, which would create the feeling of vibration, enhancing certain moments of the animation with micro sounds, which would trace the architecture of the film and mark the points of transformations.

 The geometry of the movement of the fractal visual form is very similar to the waveform of sound frequencies. I somehow wanted to make it manifest with sound. I noticed being in that room on the 7 floor at old Central Saint Martins College building is that it feels like a cave and the soundscape created in it is quite unique in the way it is refracted through the hollow back wall facing Charing Cross and distributed across the room. In a sense the wall becomes a microphone, transforming the sounds of buses, cars, people’s voices, alarms, music from the street into a ready mix.

So I suggested that we take the microphones and record the sound of wall as membrane as well as environment. We have done two recordings in the room: with ambient and contact mics. The first one produced an interesting atmospheric effect, but the sound turned out to be too concrete and recognisable and it lacked the quality which I was searching for: vibration. On the contrary, the wall itself transformed the sounds from the street enhanced by the contact microphones into a pulsating noise.

I played with the microphones while they were attached to the wall: the sound was quite loud and sharp. After some experimentation I realised that if I hold two fingers on the edges of the microphone, I get the sound of vibration of my own body, mixing with the vibration of the walls. That was exactly what I needed.

Finally, the sound contains various original recordings that we have done together, was mixed by Barbara in 5.1 and played back on the loop during the installation.

Title Manta Ray was born out of another dimension. The title of the project is connected with the similarity of the choreography of the movements of the fish and the abstract light form within the animation, as well as the play with the meaning of the word “ray” as the name of the fish and the beam of light. Metaphoric electric light has to do also with the fact that manta rays are capable of producing electricity.

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