Proposal: After hearing Steve Reich’s experiments in sound through 12 Instruments and reinterpretations by Philip Glass in the hours and O Superman by Laurre Anderson, I was fascinated by generative music, and looked towards the Beads library in processing. Intended to follow Evan Merz’ instructions on the library in his book Sonifying Processing but later extrapolate on those lessons with visual additions as well as additions of my own code. Post-Mortem: The Beads processing library was complex, but set an easy groundwork with Glide and Gain that was used throughout all versions of sound generation. My most simple artwork of the many I experimented with was Warlock Groove, which used different parameters to turn an audio files into a wave, and those variables would be randomized at the start of each run of the sketch. My next experiment was with TalkBack which uses the computers microphone to read the hertz of sound coming in and creates a playback. My next set of experiments with the Beads library used visuals that also determined the audio being played. For Roundabout and MusicBox I had four shapes bounce around the screen, and their x and y positions would determine which minute parts, or grains, of the sound file were pulled from creating a randomized sound. My next experiment in sound generation pulled off a sketch I created called Heart which used vertex drawing to make what looked like a polyhedron. I used several Beads codes to attach frequency creation to each of the points of the polyhedron, and found an interesting but not “full” noise. So I used my inspiration from Reich and played a second iteration of the sketch creating a discordant sound that fit the shape and movement of the “hearts, which became called Heartbeat and Heartbreak. Finally I worked with a synth generator that used a clock to play random synth matchups and edits, which I then paired with the visual of expanding circles which I entitled GrapeSoda. As a whole I was pleased with the experiments, especially Heartbeat and Heartbreak. Ideally as a next step I would want to experiment with the installation of these pieces of how placement could add to the interpretation of the noise. -note: sound will be added to this piece as soon as I figure out how to
For my Blackspace I created a room full of water bottles, which I thought would be interesting to navigate in the dark but never expected would be a musical and noise generation experience. The original aim was to place water bottles in a manner in an enclosed space, where people would then have trouble navigating in the dark. The first run through with our class I found that the bottles made interesting noises as they crashed, and those noises in turn attracted people to kick and move the bottles around in a louder fashion. Later run throughs had people almost immediately try to make noise and move around in the dark space. What was enthralling was after the set-up I could use the moving wall to enclose people, and besides encouraging more careful groups they system could exist and expand on its own. Presentation of the piece also became important as I tried to have it in our showing, removing labels of the bottles as well as integrating the wall as an area setter to begin the piece. What was wonderful was being able to just have a start and not worry about an end.
For my final system I built off of our cellular automata code, replacing the squares with text. I also put a transparent black background so new iterations would only compile over old as opposed to completely replacing. Pictured above is the code after around a minute. The way it works is all the boxes that would typically be white or the color of the background are now grey and opaque, while the shaded in boxes determined by one of the simple rules of cellular automata randomly choose colors from a set and words from an array. These arrays are created from passages from the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which tells a surreal narrative about an African-American man and how his race renders him invisible throughout various events. This book is perhaps one of my favorites, but my selection of the book came with the images and colors it evoked. Firstly the main part of this automata and the system integrated is the balance of the words as unimportant and relevant. The piece I believe can stand simple as a visual without the words being read, representing a feeling of invisibility. Whereas some words and phrases can easily be read due to the way I align the text and have colors shift, reflecting the strong moral and identity questions that the novel brings up. But before I discuss that use of the novel, I must discuss the components of the system that differentiate it from a simple cellular automata. First, text of varying lengths falls in less of an organized pattern than the squares usually used in cellular automata. I also edited some of the rulesets of the cellular automata so I would have less proliferations that covered the whole screen, allowing for most run-throughs of this sketch to start as below, with one word coming to the forefront in red. And slowly the words would cover the whole screen. In the third image below the cellular automata shifts one row down, which allows for the text to not infinitely cover itself. After around a thousand frames, the color shifts from red to either green or purple/pink, and changes the array to another passage. I have selected three passages that have meaning to me and to the book and split them up into three arrays. Below is the progressing of the system as it shifts arrays and colors. One of the main differences of this system from my previous two is that it can evolve continuously as it exists. After being run from 30+ minutes the below two frames resulted.
Moving on system 1, which attempted to recreate the systematic approach that Ron Resch used on paper crumpling, I changed the trajectory of my attempts at manual systems with a digital tool I was very familiar with: Adobe Illustrator. My thought was that Resch was able to create such a complex system from simple rules because he had spent weeks in a way studying the paper through interaction, and I guessed that my knowledge of Illustrator would give me a similar understanding. I began with the CMYK color settings of lines, creating a two more lines at the end of each end of a single line. The more left line would have a small decrease in magenta, while the right would have a decrease in yellow, resulting in the image below. The splitting of lines would end when the magenta or yellow value reached zero. Again I lost the feeling and nature of a system due to my own manual input. I quite like the result of this system attempt, but acknowledge that it is not a true system. As there is no room for evolution and self-sustained change.
After Ron Resch’s Paper and Stick experiments and systems, I attempted to investigate his method and define his system in simple steps that could be recreated: My notes of all his processes were: He aims to solely crumple the paper and do no other motions: Only allowed to crumple > diagrams the essential folds > lines becomes straight, triangles or equilateral triangles > triangles become the central idea to the folds > later squares and hexagons > lines in the folds can be turned into essential shapes >>> shoot light at solids > turn the folds into rounded shapes > turn paper models into sticks > hook together with gelatin > shaded shadows create patterns >>> platonic solids can be connected in joints to other shapes > now shapes can transform by shifting along connections >>> squares connected together move predictably > attempts at 3D movement of up and down > sticks in an octahedron together form a dome >>> buildings and applications My simplification of steps became (with the help of some class suggestions):
- Use paper
- Fold paper
- Restrict freedom (only crumple)
- Follow/diagram “essential” folds
- Simplify to essentials for shape-making
- Some ideas control, some follow
- 2 different things work together
- change material, keep process
- Find pattern, change pattern order
- higher iterations/quantities
- join multiple created systems
Philip Galantner defines Generative Art as being “set into motion with some degree of autonomy,” resulting in the completion of the art. If autonomy is key in defining generative art, the presence of interactions raises the question of whether the two can exist. To allow a piecer to interact with a piece of art is to give them a certain degree of dominion over it, and thus theoretically undermines the system’s ability to be autonomous. How exactly can a system be autonomous and also interactive? Using digital systems, specifically processing, is what I aim to use in order to remedy this opposition of ideals. For me increasing the variables and “moving” parts of a processing sketch to such a degree that system autonomy is greater even when an interactor is brought into the picture. And on the subject of variables I believe the interactor presents an interesting variable in the already convoluted relationship between autonomous program and artist. Just as the artist want so create a piece without controlling it in a way that removes autonomy, the interactor must control the artwork without removing the autonomy. To figure out exactly how I wanted to explore this relationship I looked towards some interactive artworks I had read about and seen in the past. One such piece is Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei, wherein a room(pictured below) was filled with porcelain sunflower seeds and interactors were brought in to explore the space. Interactors were allowed to touch the seeds and walk on them, experiencing the touch and being to live in the space and artwork. What really speaks to me about this work is how people can enter the art and consider themself a part of it. Looking back to projector night and specifically the room me and my colleagues were in, I thoroughly regret how the viewer made sure not to enter the projections. I appreciate the respect to our work but believe a huge opportunity was being lost. Paintings are beautiful forms of art that typical viewers cannot touch, which is where I see waste as far as projections are concerned. Viewers can literally stick their hands in projections and meld with the artwork in a way that is not available with other forms of art. However, as mentioned before for the viewer to really enjoy entering the projection there might need to be a degree of non-randomness that fits immersion, which would counteract and perhaps remove autonomy. I then look towards Swings by Ann Hamilton(pictured below), which is a huge interactive art piece with enormous swings that viewers were encouraged to ride on. This work despite being interactive is something I ironically did not interact with despite my interest in it. Being a piece set in the Armory of New York City it was fairly crowded and finding an open swing was hard, but inserting myself into the artwork that I had been marveling at was a daunting wall that I was not able to overcome. There was a beauty to seeing these anonymous bodies floating in beams of light, and viewing myself as one of them was scary. Keeping this in mind, I hope to be able to draw people into interactions with my programs in ways that I hope will push the boundaries of what generative art can be what systems generation can stem from. Perhaps the most obvious choice for a computer centered system like processing is using the keyboard, which I have elected to do. How exactly the keyboard is used however is something I believe can be pivotal in making the piece interactive without losing generativity. For the first created piece for this conference, I have attempted to group keys into logical groupings but not in such a way that the viewer will immediately be able to fully understand and perfectly control all the associated variables. Neptune, pictured below, is a sketch involving a loop of spheres “folded” into each other using scale. I alter the baseline(below top left), in four ways. The first is rotation, controlled by the ‘w’, ‘e’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘y’ keys to reset, initiate, increase, direct clockwise, and direct counterclockwise rotation respectively. Second is boundaries, which refers to the upwards limits of the three loops that control the x, y, and z amounts of the spheres. For this I use the ‘j’, ‘k’, and ‘l’ keys which increase the “boundary” of the x, z, and y loops respectively. For example “l” key is pressed to increase the y loop(pictured below top center). Third are the keys that alter dimension, increasing the amount that the circles are scaled by. The ‘b’, ‘n’, and ‘m’ keys are used, altering the x, z, and y amounts of scale respectively(The x dimension being altered is pictured below top right). Of course to give the system autonomy and allow for interaction between differing variables, all of these dimensions and boundaries can be altered at once(resulting in a shape similar to that picture below bottom left). The spacebar also lowers all the dimension and boundary values, moving the sketch towards a reset of the interactive changes. Fourth and finally are six colors keys, split into two sections. The first section, ‘a’, ‘s’, and ‘d’ are used to set the sketch to color sets. These color sets are ruby, emerald(the default for the sketch), amethyst, and diamond respective to the previously mentioned keys, with the colors being reds, greens, purples, and all colors(below bottom right is the amethyst color scheme, the rest are emerald). The final set are the ‘z’, ‘x’, and ‘c’ keys that increase the red, green, and blue amounts are factored into the fill of the shape. Neptune is a solid base I intend to both base my other works off of and also deviate. As far as continuations are concerned, the 3D shapes I use allow for three dimensions of change and alteration, which would not be apparent in 2D. Additionally the naming scheme of my artworks will likely follow a space theme to reflect this use of 3D and expansive nature of how my sketches work. I will likely continue to use keypresses, but might reverse or alter how the keys affect the sketch. In Neptune the keys expanded on various parts, whereas a different and opposite route could be have an expanded sketch where the key presses instead limit the sketch (again this is dangerous in terms of autonomy but I would like to attempt it). There also is the question of how the sketches transform aesthetically, for me the color changes are vastly different than the dimension and shape changes. Color change for me is a minor and slow aesthetic change whereas the dimension shifting is a dynamic shape change. I intend to consider these facets in producing the rest of my conference, and hope to create an array of art pieces that fully explore the relationship between interactivity and autonomous systems in generative art.