Category Archives: process

Philip Glass Rework

I spent the past few months working with Ahna Girshick and Graham McDermott of Snibbe Studio on the design and development of the REWORK app-album for iOS. REWORK_ features eleven interactive music visualizers and an interactive instrument, Glass Machine.

Each scene in the album is staged with an initial form that is transformed throughout the song. Different aspects of the music are used to either add new elements to the scene or to tug at the base form in different ways. Similarly, viewers can interact with all the elements of the scene, either deforming them, changing their course of movement, or in some cases both.

The first few weeks I was on the project were spent experimenting with the content we had and the themes we wanted to employ in the album. We had some midi data and all the songs, and I spent many hours listening to the album with sketchbook in hand to get a feel for the music. In addition to drawing shapes and writing feelings during the music, I broke down the songs I was responsible for into their component forms (think intro AABCBCBBCAAAAACC outro). This was awesome work, except on the 20+ minute Beck piece, where it was brutal.

In some of the early sketches, we were throwing stuff on screen and using the midi to do things like pulse size/color/velocity or create dynamic structures.

Large cubes clustered in space.

Flocking space junk.

Jagged horizontal lines and wireframe cubes float in space.

Wireframe floaters plus wave lines.

Nodes connected by lines moving across a red background.

Viewing the midi structure plus space junk.

Once we had general breakdowns of each piece and some visual and interaction sketches, we went through and did something closer to a storyboard for the pieces. These were used to agree on the number and types of forms/movements that would be present in each piece. Since the team was small and could envision how they would transform when coded, we kept them pretty simple.

Sketches for Opening remix.

Storyboard sketch for Opening remix.

Sketches for Alight Spiral Ship remix.

Storyboard sketch for Alight Spiral Ship remix.

From the storyboards, I produced primarily black and white interactive animations for the pieces I animated. After animating, I set up a simple framework for applying color to the various elements in the scene. Ahna and a few others at Snibbe worked on selecting colors and timing their appearance and we worked together to make sure they could color the elements in the way they wanted to. I had initially implemented HSV color fading, but for many of the palettes RGB fading ended up looking better.

For the NYC and Island tracks, Pete Hawkes developed a series of great processing sketches and detailed a number of ideas about how they could be modified throughout each of the songs. I ported his work into Cinder and added controls via XML and SVG so that other artists could do the final animation without needing to touch any code.

REWORK_ was written on top of Cinder. For sequencing the animations and matching timing with the music, we used a combination of the timeline interface provided by Cinder and midi files read in using middl. Using midi was actually quite nice, and I spent quite a bit of time toward the end pushing notes around on the piano roll in Logic to control the some of the animations.

Below are some additional process images. To see the final work, you should purchase it from the app store.

A series of concentric circles with bulging deformations.

Reshaping paths into circles.

Spirographic circular shape in black and white.

Opening WIP: flipping normals

A series of rectangles arranged horizontally on a curve.

Nodes loosely following a path.

Groups of circles deform a square grid.

Testing deformers (visible dots for debugging).

Deformed multicolored mesh.

Etoile Polair WIP

Little things

quick press cards

I just returned from a week at Anderson Ranch, where I took a printmaking workshop with Jennifer Ghormley. The workshop was a lot of fun, and the overall experience of being at the Ranch was a gift. I met many amazing people, and having a great space to work in and try out ideas made it nearly impossible to sleep during the week. Much more will come out of this once I have the time to unpack and build on the experience.

Snapshots are going up in the ranch photo set.

Written Images Cinder Template

written detritus

Written Images is an excellent project in generative bookmaking initiated by Martin Fuchs. He has an open call-for-entries to collect image-making applications. The site copy explains the project’s ambition:

Written Images; a project in contemporary generative print design and art. Its final products will be a book that presents programmed images by various artists. Each print in process will be calculated individually – which makes every single book unique.

I’m making my submissions using Cinder so I can get more comfortable with c++ and the XCode environment. To make my life easier, I added a WrittenImages project template to the excellent TinderBox tool that comes with Cinder. Get the template by either downloading my version of TinderBox (which contains the template), or checking it out on github. You can also look at an example of code generated by the template.

The template sets up your application to receive command-line arguments and handle batch-rendering of files to the provided paths. To use it, open up TinderBox and create a new project. Your settings should be: Target: Basic App, Template: WrittenImages. I think the code inside is pretty self-explanatory for use. To pass arguments to your application in the command-line (Assuming you named your project Sample, which you probably didn’t), do the following:

$ Sample.app/Contents/MacOS/Sample ./more.png ./like.png ./this.png

The reason for the longish path to your application is that the binary is actually in an application bundle. The Sample.app/ is just a directory, and to pass arguments to the application we need to call the executable part directly.

The written images deadline was just extended to July 15, so you still have a chance to make a submission.

Download TinderBox with the WrittenImages template.

Sustainable Inkjet Papers

After seeing that all the cool kids were printing with Hahnemühle photo rag, I decided to have a look at their papers. It turns out that in addition to their standard cotton papers, they make some papers with Bamboo and Sugar Cane as part of their green rooster environmental initiative. I’m all for trying to make work responsibly, so I ordered a few sizes of each. As I discover other responsible inkjet papers, I’ll post them here.

bamboo image

One thing I’m also looking forward to is the “unsurpassed feeling of intimacy and energy” (Hahnemühle) with which the bamboo paper will allegedly imbue my prints.

The papers:
  • From Hahnemühle:
  • Bamboo (ordered)
  • Sugar Cane (ordered)
  • From Moab:
  • Moenkopi Washi, a mulberry bark paper.
  • From Red River Paper:
  • GreenPix 100% recycled photo paper.
  • From Mohawk:
  • Loop series paper. Can’t find it anywhere…

Edit: I made a series of prints on the Bamboo paper for a show next week. While I don’t have much to compare it to, I love the way it looks and feels. Very satisfied with the paper choice.

Nonsense way of thinking

tosa lecture

Gadget OK, a device-art and japanese robot-culture symposium, took place this weekend at UCLA Design|Media Arts. With the lectures, panels, and artist presentations finished, about thirty lucky folks got to spend the afternoon with Novmichi Tosa today. He introduced the process behind some of his recent works, and then led us through a brainstorming exercise designed to produce nonsense objects.

There were 4 main steps to creating an idea using Tosa-san’s method:

  1. Write down everything you touched this morning, in order (10 things). After you finish writing down everything, write ‘nonsense’ next to it.

  2. Write something for each thing that would make it nonsensical. If you can’t think of anything that would make the thing nonsensical, put in the word of the day. Ours was ‘blue’.

  3. Combine each pair of nonsense things and write down the new image they make.

  4. Draw your final idea.

hairy dentures process

The process worked quite well for generating a range of silly possibilities, provided you were open to having silly ideas in the first place. After we went through all the steps, Tosa-san photographed everyone’s ideas and shared them with the group. I came up with a sketch for wooly, felt dentures. They give you a nice, hairy smile for greeting people. Other people’s ideas included time-travel toast, a booger-swapping machine, and an air hotel. Give it a try, and perhaps you will come up with something silly, yet worth pursuing.

documenting our work

At the end of the day, some questions arise. What would it mean to have these nonsense objects in the world? What kind of stories do they suggest, or make possible? These are questions raised not only by today’s workshop, but by much of the work presented during Gadget OK. There are so many strange new things; what are we going to do with them?

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