Author Archives: Jack Bell

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Scratch Lag

1screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-39-29-pm 2screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-41-37-pm screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-42-46-pm.3 4.screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-12-38-27-pm I attempted to make hard-coded and animated recreations of Hirsh’s style from Scratch Pad using processing and although some do not fully capture the expressive experimental style of his film I am content with the results. The project first began to change from my initial intentions when I had to understand the limits of the softwares ability to create functions that would sometimes contradict each other in order to create the same patterns as Hirsh. This was particularly the case when I first began hardcoding his patterns and when I had to animate them the coordinates of the designs would chaotically sprout of control. I had this problem with sketch 1, which is a screenshot of a hardcoded image, and in the film that pattern rotates across the screen but when I tried this in processing the entire image was rotated into a sporadic mixture of shapes. screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-1-16-39-pm   Even though this code did not turn out how I expected it to, I think it captures the same intent of Hirsh’s pattern by creating a pattern that is unrestrained by the intents of the artist, given itself its own sense of autonomy. However, what went right with the project is that using noise was an effective method to capture the same effects of Hirsh’s patterns as well as the fine details of his film. I thought noise was particularly useful in image number 2 where I used “for” to create a series of black dots to apply the same kind of graininess as in the original footage, as well as to create a contrasting static effect with the stillness of the background. For image number 3 I used “laststep” in order to create a singular generative pattern of lines and implemented the “random” function to their coordinates. When I first began on these sketches I momentarily struggled with creating shapes made to look like they were drawn with expression of a human or chemical reaction rather than the pinpoint accuracy of a computer. However once I properly understood the system of vertex shapes and their relationship with “bezierVertex” commands the process became much more fluid. I also found “curveVertex” shapes to become progressively easier the more specific I was with the shapes and fill I desired. This was particularly the case with image number 4 where I incorporated a portrait photograph of myself and outlined certain areas of my face to add expression and add random to fill my shadow in order to change its form. Overall I think the sketches are aesthetically appealing but I also think they need to be more fine tuned and include more functions in order to show more signs of progressions in the forms displayed. For image no.3 I changed the coordinates of the black foreground into a diagonal line in order to change the picture plane so that it wouldn’t appear as flat as before. I then drew subtle lines using noise to appear as plants being blown by wind and then created a black sun using noise lines. I then created  a second telephone pole and connected it to the first white telephone pole with electrical lines . I called the movie ‘Desert Highway’ because I think the overall image looks like a desert landscape and that there is an uncanny resemblance the figures and shapes in the film have to natural or industrial structures in real life.   screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-36-58-pm   For image no.2 I added a noise background with texture just like in the film and added noise to all sides of the yellow square so that there is a constant flow of movement with all the patterns in the sketch. I called this sketch ‘Static because I thought the noise patterns are quite intense like the electric static on an old fashioned television. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-44-11-pm   For image no.1 I used ‘push matrix’ and ‘pull matrix’ in order to make individual shapes rotate independently of each other. The shapes now rotate in a complete circle and also as a result create interesting patterns that continue to develop as the shapes continuously rotate. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-43-15-pm I created another sketch from Hirsh’s film where a series of randomly drawn dots fill up the screen: screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-09-am In order to create every uniquely shaped dot I used ‘curveVertex’ which resulted in the shapes in the recreation being almost identical to the original footage:screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-4-47-59-pm   I then made the sketch interactive by implementing ‘mouseX’ and ‘mouseY’ into the shapes coordinates along with noise too so that the shapes could be constantly moving and changing even when the mouse is stationary. screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-5-02-41-pm

Conference Project Proposal: Scratch Lag

For my conference conference I will be recreating frames and exerts from the experimental film ‘Scratch Pad’ (1960) by American photographer and experimental filmmaker/animator Hy Hirsh. Here is currently the only available online footage from ‘Scratch Pad’ that I will be working from: https://youtu.be/sWj1K4i46ps I’d be using techniques we studied in the course to create a greater sense of liveliness in his work and also blend my own style that has developed through using Processing . Here are six frames from a brief online exert of ‘Scratch Pad’ that I will recreate in Processing and use as a basis for my conference project: screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-6-07-44-pm screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-23-44-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-09-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-25-03-am screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-24-35-am  screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-3-25-51-am   I think this project would be an interesting way to demonstrate how  the unconventional tools and techniques in early film/animation of 20th avant-gard artists  for creating unpredictable abstract media would translate into modern computing that was created for the same purpose and could relatively achieve the same outcome. My interest in experimental film and animation  was what drew me to Hirsh as an artist because he was among the first filmmakers in the 20th century to incorporate electronic imagery into film. Hirsh experimented by using tools used in the film and animation industry of his time in an  unconventional environment with other forms of media in order to create unexpected visual results. He  would create randomly generated patterns in his films by using superimposed oscilloscope patterns printed through colour filters and ‘Scratch Pad’ utilises found-footage and graffiti with superimposed closeups of metallic structures to create the impression of 3D sculptures. I think Scratch Pad, and Hirsch’s other works, could be considered as generative art because the patterns are created depending on how the material Hirsch uses effects the film which could make them autonomous because the process is unpredictable and out of the control of the artist. I think his work is also very relevant to what I’ve studied about “noise” because we’ve used noise in processing as a means to create natural imperfections and progression in our generative drawings and Hirsch’s goal for his films is to create expressive unpredictable shapes that change over the course of its duration to create a sense of liveliness for the viewer. I hope to achieve this same outcome for the viewer so that they can experience liveliness through unrestricted generated patterns. However, my main concern for this project is that the final result may not contain the same kind of raw expression and results as Hirsch’s film because the patterns generated in Processing will be predictable to me as the artist whereas Hirsh’s  circumstances were more accidental.However I think where I have the advantage is that processing can create the same effects that Hirsh strived for without having to use the same tools he had that aren’t at my disposal, such as an oscilloscope. I tried to create similar scratch patterns from Hirsh in my sketchbook. For the first sketch I pressed onto the paper very hard with a dry pen so as to create imprints on the paper, or scratches, and then traced the surface with a pencil. This resulted in somewhat faint but textured white lines with a contrasting textured background: 1.5654aec6-db55-4b0b-90c2-110cf7d575e6   For the other sketches I used a white colour pencil for making the imprints and then drew over the surface with charcoal. The white lined patterns were much more defined this time around and the fragility of the charcoal made it easier to the capture the imprints without having to push down too hard on the surface of the paper. 2.683281e1-a3e0-45fa-babe-4891693803b4    3. 72e95020-17a0-4f59-876e-4b33898b3b88 4.532e15df-d0ef-45a5-9e15-1a9357bf0f77 I incorporated some of the shapes and patterns from my own programs to Hirsh’s scratching style: 5.126b82e7-acfe-4435-9f04-472d975bd14d screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-12-51-46-am   6.a563e799-ddcc-4fc8-a740-2e452e1bc77fscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-00-47-am I really enjoyed this process because I felt there was a sense of control I had to give to the material since I could not see what I was actually drawing until I applied the charcoal but it felt more natural that way since generative art requires the artist to relinquish some control in order to give the art-piece autonomy. As well as figuring out how I can incorporate my own programs to Hirsh’s ‘Scratch Pad’ style , I also looked towards the other students in the course and the artists they presented to the class for inspiration. I thought Moyna’s movie ‘beam’ created a very mesmerising effect on the viewer because of how the white lines around the the gyrating red beam move so fluidly whilst intertwined chaotically with ease. I also find it interesting how the lines in her movie are coming from different directions all at the same time to create unique pattern, which I think would be an interesting idea to apply to the horizontal and vertical chaotic line patterns in ‘Scratchpad’.  screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-16-01-am           screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-41-58-am I also thought some aspects of Sonia Sheridan’s photography were very similar Hirsh’s approach to film in terms of how she tampers with the development process of the photograph in order to create new generated forms that transform the image. layeringstretchingcompressingsoniaintime-e1462917656902 There is also how  both artists use media to distort form such as how Sheridan superimposes her face onto the image with photocopier where as Hirsh mainly focuses on industrial landscapes and structures to create a less literal form. I may try to experiment with both these artists methods of distorting form in order to see how they may compare or contrast in practice. I would first code my sketches by using “loops” as a means to create the shapes and patterns in ‘Scratch Pad’ with the same colour schemes as the frames in the film. However the shapes  in the patterns all vary in form and none of them are symmetrical so I will be creating them through vertex shapes so as to give the impression that they are hand drawn and not generated by a computer. I would also use “for” to create some of the more finer details in the patterns such as the grainy dots that appear in the frame or random tears that resulted from Hirsh tampering with the actual film. For incorporating photography I would use the ‘image’ function to apply my own photographs into the program and see how the generated patterns could interact with the photograph.Once I have completed my still sketches my next step would be to animate them into a loop so as to capture the same vibrant movement in ‘Scratch Pad’ and apply more dimensions to them to create the same textures and spatial relationships of the patterns.