Motion Capture Drawings


Right Hand X_Y

Working with the artist Susan Morris was a great opportunity to develop the idea of converting movement trajectories into visible line traces which I began earlier in collaboration with the DJ/VJ, Paul Bell and, previously in the AMUC workshops with Sally Jane Norman and Gretchen Schiller (see below).


Susan Morris wanted to track the movement of her body over an extended period of time in order to generate a ‘Motion Capture Drawing’; specifically, whilst she produced a ‘plumb line’ drawing (see below). The production of this drawing involved a process which, because it involved a large amount of repetition, encouraged Susan’s movements to become somewhat ‘automatic’ and exhibit a characteristic Susan refers to as “creatureliness”. More details about the philosophy behind Susan’s work can be found here.

Plumb Line Drawing - © Susan Morris


The process of converting the 3d movement data into a line was quite complex presented a number of technical challenges. The movement took place of over a period of eight hours and it was decided that we would track 6 points on Susan’s body; her head, back, hands and hips. Hence, at 50 frames per second, a sequence of over 8.5 million coordinates was captured. This was separated into 3 sets of 2D values per marker and converted into 18 drawings representing orthographical views of the movement of each marker over the 8 hours.


In order to facilitate this process, the data was disassembled, processed using a number of bespoke techniques and reassembled in .svg format before formatting in Illustrator and preparing for print. The project took nearly a year to complete, but has resulted in a further collaboration and a series of strikingly beautiful images.
The final images have been published widely and an early version of the drawings was shown at the Five Years gallery in Shoreditch, London in 2009.