Coordinated Movement is an experimental 3D animation artwork centered around a series of open-source motion capture sequences. In the animation the characters simulate a variety of swimming motions while floating through a digital void. In the absence of liquid to swim through, the bodies of the characters themselves become liquid forms, bending, shifting and glitching through virtual space.
The impetus for the project came about when encountering a series of swimming motion capture sequences in the Carnegie Mellon University motion capture database. The animation was inspired by the awkward recreation of a person swimming in a motion capture environment. The movements were especially strange as they were performed on dry land without the resistance of water. In the sequences the actors attempt to balance themselves on a beam, and then move their limbs in synch as though they were swimming under water. Equally strange is how in the limited amount of information in the motion capture file where only the joints can be seen as points moving in space, a deep sense of humanity is conveyed in the still flawed data stream.
By translating these physical motions into a 3D animated environment and mapping them onto stock 3D characters with randomly assigned body types and shapes, all nominally different but overall having a similar surface quality suggesting clones or imperfect digital copies, the body is treated as a surface description which information can be mapped onto. They exist in a digital space, where actions are looped and repeated, accurate and repeatable
The bodies are driven along virtual looping paths in a noise field that threatens, distorts, and stretches them until they are almost unrecognizable. They glide almost smoothly through a frictionless space, so much so that figures pass through each other, but at the same time their soft fleshy curves break apart into distorted triangular meshes when rounding extreme corners. In other instances the surface of their bodies are distorted by noise fields, exposing the edges and seams of their virtual construction.
Mike Pelletier (CA), born in 1978, is a Canadian artist based in Amsterdam. Working in mediums such as 3D animation and kinetic installation, his work bridges the divide between digital and physical space. Through different means of technological production, his work explores the various ways in which the human body is represented in art and the social milieu. Using technologies such as motion capture, body scanning, and body tracking, his work examines classical art’s obsession with portraiture and adds to it an androgynous, posthuman, and often uncanny protohuman aesthetic.
Music: Robot Repair
Composer: Josh Hawkins
Executive Producer, Robot Repair: Doug Darnell
The motion capture data used in this project was obtained from mocap.cs.cmu.edu.
The database was created with funding from NSF EIA-0196217.