Category Internals

Sometimes, but not always …

This is so hard for me
To find the words to say
My thoughts are standing still

Captive inside of me
All emotions start to hide
And nothing’s getting through

Watch me
Fading
I’m losing
All my instincts
Falling into darkness

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls for me now

So much uncertainty
I don’t like this feeling
I’m sinking like a stone

Each time I try to speak
There’s a voice I’m hearing
And it changes everything

Watch me
Crawl from
The wreckage
Of my silence
Conversation
Failing

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls

Every time you choose to turn away
Is it worth the price you pay
Is there someone who will wait for you
One more time
One more time

Watch me
Fading
I’m losing
All my instincts
Falling into darkness

Tear down these walls for me
Stop me from going under
You are the only one who knows
I’m holding back

It’s not too late for me
To keep from sinking further
I’m trying to find my way out
Tear down these walls for me now

Tear down these walls for me
It’s not too late for me
Tear down these walls for me

- “These Walls,” Dream Theater

Visuals: “The Pursuit” (DRAFT)

(And I still don’t have a clear sense where all of this is going …)

Basis.

“[...] How I would like to take command of my situation, to entertain myself with enlightened thought, to heroically forget pain and fear, to keep control.  Perhaps that kind of heroism exists only in novels.  If there is any enlightenment that I have been awakened to, it is that men’s minds are dominated by their little aches and pains.  We want to think that we are more than that, that we control our lives with our intellect.  But now, without civilization clouding the issue, I wonder to what extent intellect is controlled by instinct and culture is the result of raw gut reactions to life.  I was brought up with the idea that I could do anything, be anything, survive anything.  I want to believe it, try to believe it.”

- Steven Callahan, Adrift

Tired of feeling …

Immersion: Progress Report.

 

The Original Plan.

In my final year of undergraduate studies, I and a few of my friends developed a computer game called “Meltdown 2018.”  The concept was based around a return to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant more than three decades after it’s unfortunate demise.

My work on the computer graphics portion of the game triggered a lengthy pursuit that would consume my life for the next ten years.  My goal was not necessarily to develop computer games, but rather to become immersed in computer graphics at its core; I wanted to understand graphics and mathematical concepts well enough to develop software applications based upon these ideas.

Fortunately, I was able to achieve several successes during this period:

  • I developed a modeling plug-in for a popular 3D modeling and rendering application.
  • I developed a NOAA weather satellite image interpreter.
  • I obtained an in-depth understanding of how wavelets are used for image compression (e.g. JPEG).
  • I developed a basic rendering application based on radiosity principles.

For numerous reasons, I eventually abandoned this technical pursuit and focused my energies on the creative-side (e.g. Maya, Gnomon Workshop, ZBrush).  While I have some regrets, I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience since that time.  However, for someone who loves playing in both areas, it’s hard not to return to this original path – at least for a short while!

Mental struggles aside, I thought it fitting to include a video of a software developer (Eric Soulvie) who continued the journey and developed a powerful physics plug-in for Modo (based upon the open source Bullet Physics engine).  It’s called Recoil.

It’s something that I am excited to play around with as I can already envision finding uses for such a tool in a design context.

Eyes Wide Open II.

Several years ago, I designed a sugar dispenser for an industrial design class.  I decided on this particular challenge after seeing just how quickly sugar poured out of a similar dispenser at a local restaurant.  Through the design process, I discovered that it was my various interests that played a key role in the final product.

Here are a few examples:

Model Railroading: Once I had a general idea for what the dispenser would look like along with the relative dimensions, I created “sketch models” which are basically rough prototypes made from various materials.  Thinking back to my model railroading days, I chose styrene plastic for later prototypes along with the final model.  Styrene is typically used for the construction of miniature buildings used on a model railroad, and I decided that the material would work well for this project.

Architecture (Core): I wanted the dispenser to be very modern looking and sleek; ultimately something much different from those you would normally see in a restaurant.  I ultimately decided to model the dispenser similar in structure to a modern skyscraper, and I chose a variation of styrene to match the building’s fascade (narrow vertical lines without horizontal equivalents).

Architecture (Supplemental): While I liked the skyscraper concept, I felt that another design element was needed.  In one of my visits to the Los Angeles area I noticed a building that had a protruding metal “screen” with large-scale letters inset within (negative space).  I decided that I would do the reverse and project letters outward (positive space).  But what letters?

Chemistry & Flight Training: Here I combined my original undergraduate goal (chemical engineering) with my flight training experience to come up with the “surface layer” that would rest on one of the dispenser “walls.”  The chemical formula for sugar contains the elements Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.  Similarly, the airport code relative where I was living is CHO (Charlottesville-Albemarle).  Clearly, the gods had spoken.

The process of designing an object, vehicle, experience, etc. that has value in the real world takes not only solid design skills, it requires the ability to pull from multiple disciplines and incorporate those findings into something powerful.

Until perhaps now, I have always believed that my desire for knowledge was simply leading me astray from a specialization of some sort.  My experiences over the past several years have altered this belief; I now believe my innate curiosity enables versatility and a strong design sense, two things that I highly value.

While I believe that specialization in a given field and/or domain is in my future (that was my original goal all along), I envision staying “plugged in” to just about everything and anything that interests me.  It’s these interests that will continue to play a key role in my technical and creative development – the combination of which will continue to grow beyond what I’ve accomplished to date.

 

Generation Four.

Additional Thoughts.

Waiting (for what?): A friend of mine passed away about a month ago.  Her passing gave further support to beliefs and opinions planted months, and perhaps years prior.

In short: you don’t want to leave this earth without doing things that you have always wanted to do.  For my friend, the desire to leave an unfulfilling job and to retire were goals that were never realized.

Having attempted to put myself in her place, I don’t think there is anything worse than to lose the option to make your life better and more fulfilling.

Giving and receiving advice: For many years I gave considerable weighting to others’ opinions and suggestions, only to find myself disappointed when things did not work out.  Now, I solicit feedback and advice from a select few and even then I use that information in the context of a greater whole.

On a similar note, I’ll always have my opinions but I am considerably more reluctant to share any advice unless explicitly asked; in fact, many times I don’t give my opinion at all because ultimately everyone knows inherently what they need to be doing in any given situation.  I believe my opinions or suggestions are supporting an existing path that has already been decided by that individual.

Dealing with undercurrents: I’ve placed less emphasis on the desire to become a “leader” and instead placed greater emphasis on core creativity, research, development and innovation.  I don’t know if my goal has ever been to climb the corporate ladder, but amazingly I found myself attempting to do just that.  It’s like an undercurrent that you aren’t aware of until you realize you are far from shore.

I think where this goal started to fragment (for me) was the fact that increased “responsibility” was moving me farther away from what I was interested in doing.  The sheer nature of forward movement was masking who I was and what I ultimately wanted to be doing.  While I am not 100% on where I’m headed (I may never know), I do know that I was headed in the wrong direction.

Dealing with oneself: I’ve learned to be comfortable and content alone.  Frankfurt and Paris reinforced this through complete isolation from family, friends and even technology.  The freedom and flexibility I had during that period was something that allowed me to think and “experience” without any constraints.  Now I’m living my life assuming this situation has permanence.

Belongings & Money: After spending years eliminating belongings that I no longer use, and experienced the joy that “Escape 2011” brought me, the vast majority of my purchases from here on will be experiential-based (Tokyo continues to be on the immediate radar).

Physical & Mental Challenges: Successes (full or partial) in past physical challenges (flight training, triathlons, mountaineering, and foreign travel) help set the stage for future challenges of increasing size.  What could this look like?

What Next?

Now three weeks into this new journey, I’m starting to reclaim a sense of self on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and intellectual – and I am enjoying learning to be myself once again.

True to form, I’ve gone through and purged belongings that I no longer need and increased “security” around those that I still need / want.  My primary objective at this point is to refine the Immersion foundation defined earlier this year and use that as the basis for decision-making and activities in the months to come.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas that I have been thinking about:

Portfolio Consolidation: I am considering shutting down both Pixeldust and Ink microsites and consolidating the portfolios, which could very well result in the elimination of many older pieces whose quality lags behind more recent work.  While I think the current site design is sound, I also believe there is too much redundancy.  Strategy: Keep things simple, relevant and focus all attention on my best work.

Self-Promotion: I think the efforts that have gone into my core portfolio and the various microsites have resulted in a solid foundation to build from.  I’m pleased with the results, but I’m at a point where I’m less interested in promotion for promotion’s sake (career opportunities, etc.) and more interested in further expanding the portfolio.  Strategy: Get back to basics.

Research: I am at a point now where the types of books that I am reading are leaning away from self-improvement and towards other subjects: design, technical subjects and fiction.  It’s a direction that I’m becoming more comfortable with.  Strategy: Refocus research efforts on creative and technical topics, and focus more energies on fictional works.

Bionic 2.0: As mentioned earlier, one of the plateaus I’ve reached is the physical.  Now three years into a strength-building plan, I think I can move into new territories.  Strategy: Focus greater energy on core physiology and refine exercise plan.