Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ticking Clocks and Tracking Eyes

I'm excited to be visiting the Texas A&M. I did a couple of radio interviews in the morning, and then painted this 45-minute gouache sketch of the old clock in downtown Bryan. I used four colors: white, ultra blue, burnt sienna, and cad yellow.

I had lunch with professors Ann McNamara of Texas A&M and Donald House of Clemson University, both of whom share my fascination with eye tracking as it relates to artists.

I was thrilled to have a chance to try out the eye tracking tech setup at the Visualization Lab. Here, graduate student Laura Murphy is calibrating the system. She's checking alignment points on stereo images of my face as I look at a test screen.

Below the computer monitor are the two infrared sensors of the FaceLab 5 system. The sensors track both the exact direction of my eyes and the direction of my head so that the system can record exactly where I'm looking within the display monitor. 

The monitor has a photo of grocery store shelves crowded with products and overlaid info tags that pop up in response to where I'm looking, part of an augmented reality experiment they presented at Siggraph this year.
I'll be spending time with students of the Department of Visualization in their classes today and tomorrow, and I'll give a free digital slide lecture about picturemaking and worldbuilding in Dinotopia in the Geren Auditorium in the Langford Architecture Center, Building B, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Previously on GurneyJourney:
Eyetracking and Composition, part 1
Eyetracking and Composition, part 2
Eyetracking and Composition part 3


Mitch said...

James, I love the clock, the texture of the metal, the reflections on the glass. Were the two clocks reading slightly different times, or did you paint the one on the left first? (Personally, I favor the notion that it is a record of the painting process.) How did you get this perfection of color and detail in just 45 minutes?

Elizabeth said...

Hello Mr. Gurney, I was wondering whether or not you will be autographing books at your talk on Thursday, and if so, if you knew of a bookshop in town that sells your books? My Dad is a professor at A&M and would like to meet you and have you autograph a book, but we only just found out about you when the university sent out an email about who's speaking there this week. Ergo, we don't have any of your books and need to get at least one before the talk, if you are indeed doing a signing.

Also, do you have any plans to come back to Colorado anytime soon? I didn't see anything on the events page of your website, and I read that you were just here, but thought perhaps you might come to do a lecture at CU or something. I'd love to see you if you come to Boulder!
Thanks a lot!

James Gurney said...

Mitch, that's funny. I didn't even notice that the hands were registering different times. The fault is not with the clock, which keeps good time. I just painted them at different times. Thanks for the compliments.

Elizabeth, I didn't do any public events in Colorado--I just did a workshop in Wyoming. Don't know when I'll be back in CO. Perhaps a year from now, I'm hoping. I will be signing whatever books people bring in, but we neglected to bring any books with us. If you dad doesn't have a copy with him, I can just sign a piece of paper or a sketchbook for you.

Lou said...

I'd not seen your three previous posts on eyetracking and composition James, thanks for the links. Doesn't surprise that it's figures and faces that draw and to some degree hold our attention.
An instructor critiquing my work at one point told me to devote more effort to the figure in my painting. He cautioned that any figure in a work was going to command initial attention and continue to bring the viewer back. He added that people were willing to accept (or perhaps he said overlook) trees that are too fat, off-kilter perspective and such things to some degree, but mess up the figure and they dismissed you quickly!

Having had a disagreement with my wireless provider before coffee this morning I'm afraid my outlook towards advancing technology is a tad askew today. To the point I see all this work on eyetracking having so much more to do with selling youngsters boxes of Chocolate Frosted Sugerbombs (thanks Mr. Watterson) than giving us a lot of insight into how to compose a work of art.

SK Schafer said...

Have they ever done eye tracking studies with other species? It would be really fascinating way to reveal how other species perceive their world.

James Gurney said...

SK Schafer, yes there have been eyetracking studies on dogs and chimps:

...and even some comparing men and women:

Lou, I know what you mean. The technology of eye tracking and brain scanning is improving by leaps and bounds, and here at Texas A&M we've been having some interesting discussions about combining those research modalities in real time to infer cognitive behavior behind how viewers look at pictures.