For my conference project I created a series of movies that explored my placement in an American context and the ways in which I could use Processing and generative art to challenge or alter the original narrative of the photograph.
I began by finding photographs of American families in Ithaca. I then photoshopped myself into the images and split them into .jpg and .png files with some transparent portions so that I would be able to code in-between the layers.
The code itself was rendered in pure red to emulate the aesthetic of Barbara Kruger’s work. Many of the aesthetic techniques used were also reminiscent of John Baldessari’s dot series, where the graphic obstructions not only created visual tension, but also added a psychological distance between the viewer and the subjects of the photographs.
When I first began the project, all I knew is that I wanted to use photographs so I would have some tension between the coded graphics and the photographic image. However, I was at a loss for what photographs to use, and the approach I wanted to take. For a while I was browsing through old photos that I had taken. There was no real system, I was just looking for ones that caught my eye. Because there was a lack of purpose, I found it hard to make anything really interesting.
The idea for this slightly more political approach to the project came to me while I was in a thrift store, browsing through various old knick-knacks that, to me, were strongly representative of a specific American narrative. This was just a few weeks after the disheartening election results, and I was questioning my place and future in this country. I had used old found photographs for a previous project whilst I was studying in Berlin, and I knew the existing power and narrative in their composition would provide a fruitful grounding for my project.
Funnily enough, it was the pieces that I hadn’t previously sketched and planned for that turned out to be some of my favorites. Particularly, No.4 and No.5 in my series. I think when I started planning them in my sketchbook first, I was too focused on how to control the code, rather than how to create a system in which the generative nature of my work could create an interesting effect itself.
I also at one point became too reliant on Baldessari’s visual techniques. In No.1, I struggled to manipulate the spirals so that they wouldn’t just end up forming red dots on the faces in the photo, as it would be too similar to the dot series. In the end, I created a piece that changed very incrementally over time, and I think the difference before and after is quite striking.
This change over time was definitely something I wanted to incorporate into my sketches, to make the photographs more dynamic and so that I could take full advantage of the properties of generative art. I was surprised to find that the vertex drawings I did, and changing them incrementally over time, wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
For No.2, I assigned variables to each vertex point of each shape, and added a noise incrementation so that they seemed to be expanding and growing in a somewhat organic fashion.
In every sketch, the axes that crossed particular portions of the photograph were very important. Mostly, I aligned the sketches to an axis that crossed over the eyes of the subjects. Though I wanted to differentiate myself from Baldessari, I also recognized that distracting and obstructing the face often had the most jarring effect on the viewer.
I also used loops in most, if not all, of my sketches. The allowed me to create these graphic accumulations onto of the images.
Because I was pretty excited about this project, time management wasn’t too much of an issue. However, I wasn’t quite aware when I started how many steps there would be. The process involved going to a number of thrift stores and flea markets, carefully selecting images, scanning them in, editing myself into them, creating the code, then finally creating the movie files. What took the most time was creating the code, but I did feel myself growing more comfortable with the code. I was much more careful with commenting out which code did what, which gave allowed me to navigate through the code more easily. Though control isn’t the ultimate goal of generative art, the ability to understand my code more easily gave me a certain measure of clarity so I could ensure that my goals would be fulfilled in the project.
One of my main concerns would be whether or not the insertion of myself into the images is fully necessary or even noticeable in many of the pieces. Aside from the wedding photo, I inserted myself into the periphery of the images, purposely out of the main line of site.
With No. 4, I feel as though suddenly it becomes noticeable that, of all the faces turned towards the camera, only mine isn’t obstructed in the end. No.1 also has me in the periphery, and when the image turns red and everyones eyes are marked out, mine is the only one left.
However, with No.2, I inserted myself with my back turned. I’m not sure if my insertion here is done to any effect, really. And the accumulations on the three main subjects, while it erases them, doesn’t distract from them at all. In fact, my focus has mainly stayed on them.
At the end of the day, I’m quite proud of what I accomplished with this project. I like the series as a whole, and I think the pieces do quite well together. I think the red on the high contrast black and white photographs is quite striking, and I think I definitely achieved my goal in changing the narrative and nature of the photographs throughout the series.
My conference project’s theme is nature and its replication using code. Nature is known to follow a system and set of rules while utilizing the slightest bit of unpredictability. The same can be said for coding: there are rules to follow, but there’s a lot of room for randomness. I wanted to incorporate this within my code and find just how close to the beauty of nature I could make my sketches. I was very inspired by Holger Lippmann’s work representing aspects of the natural world in his art.
When I began each sketch, I had a few guidelines but not many. For instance, the first sketch I created was Push + Pull based on my original sketchbook drawing of an ocean with the tide coming in and out. I knew what I wanted the general sketch to look like, but I was not prepared for the outcome which exceeded my expectations. With the use of multiple gradients, I was able to form the landscape without using defined shapes. Rather, the gradients are made up of individual lines that change color with each y value (probably?). Then, to add the value of the waves hitting the sand, I used simple noisy white lines. I was very pleased with the end result, not aware that I would even consider using multiple gradients. Even now there is still more I’d like to add, for instance clouds or boats in the distance, but for now I’m very happy with this sketch.
My following sketch Anthocyanin is based on an idea I had of flower garden. Flowers are very interesting and difficult to replicate exactly the same each time. Much like natural flowers, my coded flowers take on new identities with every run of the program. This was my most difficult sketch because it required me to take a concept like Wave Clocks, which has a lot of different parts, and expand upon it. I had to first find the right flow I wanted the petals to follow, but due to the noise in the sketch I could not create the same exact flower each time. I was disappointed, but eventually I made it work by controlling the variables as much as I could. However, it was very frustrating to find what exactly I could control and how. The rest was just a matter of finding the right colors and locations for each of the flowers.
Right now I’m still trying to perfect my Drip Drop sketch. It looks almost identical to the original sketchbook drawing I made earlier in the semester. I really loved the idea and wanted to make it as close to the original as possible. The idea was to create puddles during the rain, and as the rain falls there are ripples throughout the puddles. Instead of using a function to create raindrops like I had originally planned, I found I liked the appearance of simple random ellipses popping up.
Encompassing Sun is the one sketch I implemented 3D in. The first part of my sketch was the sphere in the center, and to make it more dynamic I wanted it to be a rotating sphere that zoomed in and out throughout the sketch. From there I discovered you could get some really interesting patterns when adding the rotate() function to noisy lines, hence the sun’s outer design. There was a lot I had to consider with this sketch such as transform() and push and pop matrix. A lot of it was just guess and check until I finally began to see how things were affected with each change. My plan was to originally just have the sun in the center, but I wanted other spaces in the sketch to be interesting as well, so the other rotating spheres could be other planets. It was a fun sketch that took me by surprise considering how much new material I used that I didn’t even think I would consider.
All in all, I’m very happy with my work for this conference. It’s really satisfying to see simple sketches in a notebook become dynamic artworks in code. I’m always surprised how different the final product is from my original intention, but I’ve always found it to be for the better. There’s still a lot I need to learn and understand in order to better control my sketches, but I’m very happy with where I am right now.
“How was it to make?” My classmates and I were asked this question all semester, and it always stuck out to me as such a startling question. Each time I thought about it, my mind went blank. How was it to make? It was just hard and complicated and confusing, and most of all, frustrating. But it was also amazing and beautiful and so dumbfounding. How am I supposed to put hours of staring at a screen, countless dashed hopes, and unexpected results into words?How was it making this conference project? The first word that comes to mind is stressful, probably because I just really wanted to get it right. More than anything, I just wanted to get it right and do everyone and everything justice. This made every second that I worked on and thought about my project miserable, until today, when I finished recreating the five Vasarely pieces, and made a few Vasarely-inspred sketches like the one shown here. Honestly, I don’t know what changed. One theory is the pressure of having to complete this post. The necessity to finish everything made me appreciate Vasarely’s work, the process of coding, and what I’ve learned this semester a lot more. I actually enjoyed working on conference today, which is something I couldn’t say before. Whenever I complete an assignment, a paper, a project, I always say that I could’ve managed my time better so that I didn’t have to do so much at the very end, but at this point, I think it’s just my style. I actually like the doing the work when I have the high pressure to complete it. I’m happy with my project as it is now, and I’m excited to incorporate more animation, some interactivity, complexity, and the logical next step, make some optical art in the third dimension. This project will never really be complete, as I will always be trying to astound the brain with my art, whether that’s generative or any other type. I have many plans to continue using Processing and inspirational artists like Vasarely and Bridget Riley to make things that amaze. This project has definitely been helpful in mastering a lot of basic coding concepts like variables and loops, but I have also been forced to use colors beyond grayscale and the occasional purple. What I gained most from this semester was of course learning a new awesome skill. I had known some Java previously, but this level of understanding is not something I expected from myself. I also have so much more appreciation for technology, and I have been introduced to another facet of art that I will be involved in for probably the rest of my life.
- I used variables to swap colors which added an interactive quality to my work.
- I used a consistent color palette to shadow Malevich’s work and messed with the interaction of these colors by using mousePressed.
Because some of the previous conference works looked too similar with my work “Daisy,” so I made some change on my piece “Growing” and decided not to use the piece I mentioned in the last post “Windy”. I also added two new pieces called “Funeral” and “Mutate”. All my five pieces show the whole life of a flower: Origin, Growing, Bloom, Mutate and Funeral.
In the “Growing”, I changed the main part of the flowers and made them keep growing.
In the “Funeral”, I used noise to present the background, the loop tocrate a black flower like circle in the middle and the translate to make the grey flower in the center. The black flower-like circle is made by rectangles. It’s difficult for me to combine the black flower-like circle with the animated grey flower together, because they both had their own translate and made the code too complicated.
I had considered about making some difference every several seconds, such as change the background color. But I thought the whole work already looks every intense, the changing of background color would make the audiences anxious.
I love the pieces I have so far and hope the audiences would love them as well.
For my conference project, I am interested in recreating elements of nature using Processing. As we further dissected the definition of Generative Art, I found there to be a close relationship to GenArt and nature itself. Both follow set systems of rules, yet are also full of unpredictability. By using Processing, I’m curious as to how I can utilize its tools of controlled randomness to resemble the various aspects within nature. For instance, my sketchbook consists of loose, random drawings of what came to mind when I thought of nature. I wanted a lot of variety such as curves, noise, harsh lines, detail, looseness, etc.
I was greatly inspired by some of the work I had studied of Holger Lippmann for my artist presentation at the beginning of the semester. Though I chose him at random, I felt a very strong connection to his work and felt it represented a lot of my interests as an artist. His work is full of structured randomness, and that’s something I’d like to use within my conference project. For instance, his works titled NoiseWave IX really caught my attention. While using the same shape over and over, Lippmann was able to create beautiful designs of abstract oceans and beaches. This is where I got the idea of nature from for my conference project. I wanted to create work like Lippmann’s: purely digital that also resembles realistic beauty in the world.
I look back on my Night Waves sketch for Projector Night. It’s as if Night Waves is a baby step towards all I would like to accomplish with this conference. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I hope to expand on the tools used within Night Waves such as noise and variance.
I was inspired by “Wing” by Jack Colton, “Waldorf Sun” by Garret Hsuan, “Membrane” by Moyna Ghosh, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Nabila Wirakusumah, “Jellybean Solar System” by Meghan Sever, and “Rainbow Cetology 1” by Wade Wallerstein. Their sketches provided me with insight into the relationship between design and realism that I would like to incorporate into my own sketches as well.
When viewing my work, I hope to express both the world of design and the natural world. I want both to be clearly present in my sketches. When people see it, I want them to think, “Wow, that was made with a computer?” I want it to have all the positive aspects of the digital and natural. It’s also important to me that I represent my artistic aesthetic and positively express that to the viewers. I want to share my style, as varied as it is. I have a lot of ideas I’d really like to see through, but in the end I will be picking the 5 best.
I want my sketches to be looped, so at any instance a viewer could jump in and watch without losing the essence of the sketch. For example, I’d love to create a puddle with rain drops falling onto it and creating ripples within the puddle. Using randomness and perhaps mouse-click interactivity, I’d love for rain drops to appear smoothly one after another, or a few at a time. I love the idea of interactivity, but I don’t know if there is room for it in most of my ideas for this conference project. Animation is of course essential. I want the flow of my sketches to be smooth and tame, much like that of nature, for example water dripping off flower petals or the tide on the beach. Variance and noise will be important throughout my work because I feel that helps represent the realism I’m going for. I’ll also be utilizing my own functions throughout my work so as to make the process easier to change at my leisure.
Because I want my sketches to maintain a certain realism, I’m a bit concerned about the amount of detail put into each sketch. I’m still unsure as to “how much is too much”, so along the way I hope to find that balance. In true GenArt style, I always start with an idea in mind but the end result is far from anything I had ever imagined.