Lisa Roberts blog


Google Doodle, animated dance

Filed under: DrawingMovement, animation, dance, drawing — Lisa @ 20:05

Yesterday’s Google Doodle was a beautiful animation. I was pretty busy and didn’t get a chance to find out anything about it. After asking friends I found out (THANK YOU ALL) that:

It was made by Ryan WoodWard to reflect the dance style of Martha Graham.

The Martha Graham Center site has lots of information.

The site Animated Google Doodle Honors 117th Birthday of Dancer Martha Graham is where you can download animation key frames.

Someone has put music to it.

Someone explains (in German) technical information about it.


Visualising our ecosystem

Filed under: Datavisualization, Literature, animation, dance — Lisa @ 15:54

KRILL feature in the Hyperion Project, a beautiful animated interactive interface of the marine ecosystem:

Hyperion Project from Oisin Prendiville on Vimeo.

Hyperion is an animated generative installation; a triptych of mutually supporting digital environments that also rely on, and react to, sensor-based information received from the real-world environment. In addition to exploring new methods of data visualisation and generative programming techniques, Hyperion is also representative of new global digital biological systems and technologies.

Modelled as individual links in a food chain using a real-world biological marine ecosystem as a behavioural blueprint, the environments of Eos, Selene and Helios form a circuit reflecting the interdependency of such biological systems. Created with Macromedia Flash and utilising sensor and networking technology, each environment relies on the others for sustenance, in addition to reacting to stimuli received from the installation’s real-world physical environment.

The members of the group behind the project are Briana Hegarty, John Ryan, Deirdre Williams, and myself. Hyperion Project blog, accessed 8 April 2011

Another beautiful animation is The Garden of Ecos:

In this animated short, animals and plants are living peacefully together in a large garden until predators attack and ravage their habitat, stealing food and destroying plants. This creates an imbalance that leads to war. A fable that poetically describes how conflicts between 2 different groups in the same community can upset the natural balance of an ecosystem.

The film Atonement describes human impacts on an ecosystem.

Mountain Movement – Vue Redux from Jerry A. Smith, Ph.D. on Vimeo.

“>Mountain Movement is a is a 3D visualisation of a changing ecosystem:

This is a combination 3D and 2.5D Vue virtual composition. The original model, including animated ecosystem, was composed of over 2 million polygons, far too many to render in any reasonable time. I kept the near field objects as 3D, but renders the farther elements in multiple layers. The next is a hybrid Vue composition. Final color correction was done in After Effects. Jerry A. Smith 2010



Filed under: Datavisualization, animation, music — Lisa @ 08:02


Fluid Sculpture

Filed under: animation, circle — Lisa @ 10:26

Fluid Sculpture from Charlie Bucket on Vimeo.

Fluid Sculpture is a winner of the Vimeo Capture Award.


Aesthetic vs anaesthetic

Filed under: Human rights, Presentations, Researchers, animation, drawing, writing — Lisa @ 10:38

I first saw this video on the Facebook of an artist friend.

As the U-tube caption reads,

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.

For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit:

This is the most lucid explanation I have seen of the divide between academic and artistic intelligences that is promoted by the dominant education systems around the world. I agree with Howard Gardner that we each have multiple intelligences that we can apply to every problem. My hunch is that we naturally apply all our intelligences to everything that we perceive as a problem, consciously and unconsciously.


Crinoid – feather star

Filed under: Iconography, Science, animation, dance — Lisa @ 13:27

At last I try the ‘bones’ tool in Flash CS4 and am animating a crinoid like the one filmed by Torvaansar (Uploaded to U-tube 28 sec – 22 Mar 2008):

What are crinoids?

Crinoids, also known as sea lilies or feather-stars, are marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea of the echinoderms (phylum Echinodermata). Crinoidea comes from the Greek word krinon, “a lily”, and eidos, “form”. [1] They live both in shallow water and in depths as great as 6,000 meters.[citation needed]

Crinoids are characterized by a mouth on the top surface that is surrounded by feeding arms. They have a U-shaped gut, and their anus is located next to the mouth. Although the basic echinoderm pattern of fivefold symmetry can be recognized, most crinoids have many more than five arms. Crinoids usually have a stem used to attach themselves to a substrate, but many live attached only as juveniles and become free-swimming as adults.

There are only a few hundred known modern forms, but crinoids were much more numerous both in species and numbers in the past. Some thick limestone beds dating to the mid- to late-Paleozoic are almost entirely made up of disarticulated crinoid fragments. (Wikipedia)

I find an excellent U-tube tutorial by LilredheadComics on how to use the bones tool.



Filed under: animation, circle, cross, drawing, photography, spiral, writing — Lisa @ 10:29

Photo: J-Brokowski, Australia Antarctic Division 2010

On September 11, 2001, I sat with my mother as she lay dying in a nursing home near Melbourne. Her room was empty of other people. It seemed the whole world was watching TV broadcasts of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers in New York.

I drew the contours of Mum’s face as she gazed into my eyes and at a photo (beside me) of her other daughter Nadya. Mum’s eyes seemed full of sadness and fear. As I drew, I told her that I would keep an eye on Nadya, who had lived in and out of psychiatric institutions all her life. I asked her to let go of her fears because she had done everything she could do.

Mum had lost the ability to speak about 7 years before this day. All I could read were her eyes and the contours of her face. I drew as a way of holding onto as making some sense of this moment. Drawing and talking seemed to hold us together as she passed from life to death, into the great unknown. I remember the soft lines of the drawing (now somewhere in Tasmania) as ethereal and ‘other worldly’. I remember the simple lines that gently curve inwards as parts of an infinite spiral.

The following year, this moment with Mum resurfaced in Antarctica. This happened as I drew the first iceberg I saw from the ship as we neared the white continent. I later wrote:

Body memories of drawing my mother were recognised through the gestures I made to draw the ice. Perhaps this icy environment evokes a primal sense of mortality.

These memories of first seeing an ice berg helped me to empathise with other people who struggle with words to describe deeply felt personal experiences. It made it easy for me to understand how Antarctic ice may appear to have a life of its own. We may only be able to speak of the surface of ideas and feelings that we see in the ice. Something more primal was felt within the ice.

A recent post in Claire Beynon’s blog, The sea offers up orange deepens my knowledge that we can share expressions of connection to the world when we recognise primal forms within it. Expressions of connection to these forms can connect us to each other and to our environment at a profound level.

Here, Claire’s modes of expression are words and photographs, which reflect her experience on a beach in Dunedin and the connections she feels with the recent earthquake in nearby Christchurch (in New Zealand). Like the connection that I made, between my mother and the ice, the connections that Claire makes defy logic. However, her words and images communicate (to me and others who have commented on her site) empathic connections between all the great forces that shape our world (including us).

Primal forms (like the circle, spiral and cross) can awaken ’sublime’ feelings of connection to the great and unknown forces that shape the natural world (including melting icebergs, erupting earthquakes, and every living entity transforming into death).


100% sustainable energy

Filed under: animation, circle — Lisa @ 11:20


The link above leads to the animation sustainability presented in movie format (.avi).
The animation is set to the voice of the environmental scientist Mark Diesendorf.
In the animation, Mark explains that:

* 100% renewable energy is possible in Australia right now.
* We have the technology but government action is needed in order achieve this.
* Australia is well placed to develop a clean and sustainable power industry.

You are free to include this file in your website for not-for-profit use.

Contact me at to arrange delivery via Yousendit.
The animation is available as an .avi (40.3 MB) and .swf (3.0 MB).


Expanding perceptions

Filed under: Literature, animation, writing — Lisa @ 12:12

Photo: J-Brokowski, Australia Antarctic Division 2010

What is knowledge and what is belief?

In Antarctic Animation: Expanding perceptions with gesture and line (thesis submitted April 2010), I demonstrate the need to combine scientific data with aesthetic responses in order to accurately communicate climate change information.

Can information gathered, created and shared by scientists and artists, while working together in Antarctica, be made accessible through an animated online interface? Could such an interface represent a whole, unified ecosystem?

I am not alone in believing that most people can know the world from both a scientific and aesthetic (sensory) perspective. A combination of these perspectives is essential for human survival.

Because human perceptions are based on belief systems, our views must be expanded in oder to increase our understanding of the world.

Are belief systems necessarily moral?

In his essay, Moral Frames for Landscape in Canadian Literature, Ronald Bordessa identifies three conceptual worldviews ( Simpson-Housely and Norcliffe, 1992, p.58):

Religious – Man against Nature, anthropocentric ethic
Scientific – Man in Nature, biocentric ethic
Existential – Man as Nature, ecocentric view

Bordessa further identifies the Existential view as ‘Aesthetics: A world of Dissolved Differences’ (p.59).

I fail to understand what is moral about the Scientific and Existential views.



Filed under: animation, circle, cross, photography — Lisa @ 07:05

In his animation, Endangered Species, Tony White presents a  puppet to represent ‘Everyman’ (White 2006, p.400). The puppet is animated as if manipulated by strings.

By contrast,  in her video installation, Endangered Species (2006),  choreographer, Shiobhan Davies, represents humanity as a  body manipulating  flexible rods.  Movement of the rods reveals internal lines of force (energy):

Davies  represents humanity as endangered. Housed in a museum vitrine (display case), her video installation archives a singularly powerful statement.

I use animation to represent humanity  as energy systems.

Animations made to represent human vitality are being combined with visualisations of sustainable energy  systems (powered by water, wind, and geothermal and solar heat).

The aim is to make empathic kinesthetic (bodily) connections between human and other  systems of energy.

I have made many drawings of people, such as this one  of a girl with a hoop, and am now combining using animation to express collective human energy:

The first animation towards a new project, ‘Animated Energies’,  is Sustainability. This is set to a sound recording I made of the environmental scientist Mark Diesendorf when he spoke at a recent CAN (Climate Action Newtown) event.

The animation includes drawings that I made at the last National Folk Festival (Canberra). I drew people who I saw as energetic, with lines to reflect their vitality. The lines represent an ever-changing human form.

But do these lines best reflect Mark’s message, to talk to ‘every person we can’ about renewable energy?

Yesterday I showed the animation to two people. One (another artist) identified strongly with the lines. The other (not an artist) thought the figures were ‘weird’. Only after hearing the negative response did I recognise that I had drawn people who I had found ‘interesting’ (as well as energetic) and that may be seen as very different from the norm.

I also recognised that my style of drawing reflects my experience as a dancer. This does not reflect everyone’s experience of their body.

For my animated Everyman to appeal to ‘every person’, I need to make some changes. But I do not want to compromise the vitality of the work.

I will include more drawings that represent a wider range of people (drawn in city streets for example). Together with the folk festival drawings, these lines may better represent ‘Everyman’.

I had considered the idea of taking photographs of people and making tonal drop-out forms from these. But I don’t see people as static cut-out shapes. I see them as systems of flowing energy. This perception of people may seem weird to some people. However, as the philosopher Rob Siedel said (in con. 2008), ‘There is only one way of seeing the world: your way.’

There is clearly no one way to represent people that will be recognised by everyone. Nevertheless, perceptions can be expanded. My way of seeing people is  now expanded by seeing the sense in another point of view.

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