Monthly Archives: September 2010

Conceptual Sound: Early Sketches I

Here’s some quick sound sketches I put together for our Conceptual Sound unit, as early experiments. All were created using Reaper, a fantastic DAW [digital audio workstation] program available for a ridiculously low price and an insanely generous unrestricted trial. I’ve not used that many DAWs recently but I find it much more intuitive to use than Cubase. These pieces involve a lot of routing audio and MIDI to different tracks, which Reaper makes incredibly easy.
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Nine words, nine images

Here are some images I created for a college assignment based on nine words: ambiguity, diaphanous, condition, crash, ephemeral, loop, sequential, serendipity and utopia. All were inspired by examples from an archived Department of Transport book called “Know Your Traffic Signs”, and use a version of the Transport font from CBRD.co.uk. No, I didn’t know there was a website dedicated to cataloguing roads either.

I hit upon the idea of road signs while I was looking for a consistent thread to tie these ideas together; the meanings of all nine words can have so many interpretations I had to find some way to link each one without being completely literal about it. The brief suggested that the words were related to the artistic process; I guess you could see that as a journey of sorts, and these are markers to guide your path. Maybe it just appealed to my sense of humour. In any case, it is a strong and recognisable visual identity; it’s ubiquity (to people in the UK at least) makes it ideal for a spot of pastiche.

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Net Art Research, pt III: mrdoob.com

This last site kind of bridges the gap between the two I looked at previously: introducing Mr Doob. His speciality seems to be HTML5 madness and high end JavaScript, but there’s some phenomenal stuff here, some of which is really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible visually on the web while still maintaining something that people will actually want to use.

Harmony is a procedural drawing tool which provides some interesting drawing possibilities; Google Sphere and Google Gravity reconfigure the world’s most famous search engine (make sure you actually try a search in both!). Or So They Say is just a lovely ambient experience, but possibly the best known (although it’s not clear exactly what his role in it was) is The Wilderness Downtown which is a music video for the band Arcade Fire. Built in HTML5, it combines specially filmed footage with content from Google Earth to make something a bit mental. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing as HTML5 support gets better.

You may find a lot of these projects aren’t compatible with all browsers, especially the Google experiments. I recommend SRWare Iron, which is a version of Google’s Chrome browser with all the stuff that talks to Google secretly stripped out. Isn’t open source great?

Net Art research pt II: complexification.net

Complexification is a showcase for the works of Jared Tarbell, and describes itself as a “gallery of computation” filled with “generative artefacts”. This site has some of the best examples of generative art (mainly built with Processing) which is something I find totally fascinating, as you may have guessed from some of my previous posts.

The works here aren’t just technical exercises; despite being essentially a collection of fairly advanced software, each of them has a striking beauty about it, with a unified colour palette linking them into a single body of work. They exhibit a wonderful sketchiness, and sometimes a painterly quality. Substrate is like if Mondrian used watercolours and smoked crack; Stitches evokes textures of woven cloth; Offspring visualises the family tree of a colony of robots. Each of the pieces shown here is unique and fantastic, and collectively form a benchmark against which a lot of generative art today is measured against. For me, generative systems like the ones used here provide the most exciting new paradigm for artists working in “new media” (I hate that term).

If you’re into this sort of thing its worth checking out Matt Pearson’s 100 Abandoned Artworks which has some cool stuff in a similar, albeit less developed form. I was going to look at it in a later post but it’s a bit too similar to Complexification, I think.

Net Art Research, pt I: the389.com

The first site I’m going to bring to your attention as part of the Advanced Software Applications research is the389.com. I was linked to this site by someone on Twitter, but I’m not sure who now- whoever it was, thanks! The man behind it appears to be named Andrey Yazev, but that’s about all I can find, background wise.

The site hosts a variety of web art pieces and experiments. A lot of them use interface elements in imaginative ways; some are bonkers physics based toys, while some shred your preconceptions of how a website should operate. I particularly like this wee sequencer which lets you create music on the fly.

This isn’t so remarkable, you might think- tools like Flash and Processing let you do this kind of thing relatively easily, but the fact that this website has been built without using plugins or extensions at all is pretty remarkable, although as HTML5 grows we’ll no doubt see further potential unlocked. This site does what web developers have been doing for a long time: uses web technologies in new and unexpected ways. It also has a certain nostalgic feel to it- a lot of the interface elements used have a distinctly Web 1.0 look to them, but there is clearly using some scary coding behind the scenes to create the somewhat “retro” aesthetic.

Further Variations: ad infinitum

Some further explorations in Perlin noise generated geometry: these sketches are autonomous. The lines fade away slowly so the overall level of complexity remains constant.
Here’s some shots from the 2d version:
Infinite2dLines04 Infinite2dLines02
And just because I can, here’s it in 3d:
Infinite3dLines03 Infinite3dLines02
To be honest the still images don’t really do these sketches justice, since the whole point is that they can go on without requiring interaction. To get the full effect, you should check them out on OpenProcessing: the 2d version is here while the 3d version can be seen here.
I have to say, in purely visual terms, the 2d version of this is my favourite so far. Enjoy!

Variations on a Theme: Processing Sketches

For my first post on my new blog I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve been playing with for a while. All of these images were created using Processing and use Perlin noise to generate random but organic looking movement.

The first set of sketches use just four variables, which can be used in various combinations to generate coordinates, which can be joined by lines of two different colours.
2dLines10 2dLines09 2dLines08 2dLines06
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