Tag Archives: conference project

Radical Games: Her Eyes Post-Mortem

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.25.13 PM Her Eyes is a game that has been through so many iterations and pivot it’s goal is almost entirely alien from the original idea. That being said, the look of the game has remained very consistent from my end and even though I’ve had to rethink over and over the way characters and the world worked, I always felt like I was working within the safe frame of the general world I had created and the art that expressed that world. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.26.26 PM As it stands, the game is roughly half done, maybe less. While the majority of the assets are made, a number are still planned out, and the larger meat of the game, that being encounters, has yet to be worked in. Building such meaningful encounters in the time I had is what I struggled with the most during this cycle and what I would’ve wanted to put more time and thought it. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.30.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.22.57 PM What surprised me was how easily I found the art to do. In other ventures towards the visual world, I always found myself getting hung up on the details of what I drew and how they didn’t look exactly right because I was rushed or just couldn’t eyeball something well enough. With pixel art, I found the amount of precision and abstraction allowed me to make pieces of art that I truly felt proud of. While I wouldn’t say the game had any strong influences artistically, I do think my most recent play throughs of games like LISA and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery did influence certain character designs, narrative themes, world building, and NPC interaction. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.32.05 PMScreen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.31.37 PM Looking back, I feel that the two things I learned the most were exactly that. That meaningful encounters is the hard part, and art in this capacity is what I was strongest with. Know that earlier on would’ve helped me better allocate time and energy to maximize the potential of the product. Strangely, I never found the time to make music or sound for the game. The reason this is strange is that I’m a musician and one would think the music is what would come naturally. Pointing out then that I do not consider myself a visual artist, it is intriguing that the thing I found most uncomfortable at first (art) became the easiest and what I was more familiar (narrative, music) took longer and I was less pleased with the result. Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 8.24.42 PM  Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 7.13.25 PM  

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Swimming In the Void

  Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.06.28 PM For my conference project, I made three animated kinetic text videos which featured narratives from people who spoke about their emotional -experiences of dealing with their mental illnesses. Initially, I wanted to mimic Oskar Fischinger’s ( a German-American abstract animator) style of shape animation to mimic the emotions highlighted in the narrative. In his videos, Oscar Fischinger uses simple shapes to move in co-ordination to classical and jazz musical compositions.However, a major feature of his animated shorts which made them so appealing was the syncing of his shape animation to a Litz composition, which  I lacked the technical expertise and time to emulate. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.09.05 PM   Instead, I used a variety of inspirations for different scenes in each video. For instance, in the video featuring my friend’s narrative encounter with depression, one of the first few scenes has been inspired by Saul Bass’s cinematography for the opening credits of Vertigo. In order to create that, I chose to transform my ellipse into a spiral , using the “twist” animation effect. My intention was for the rotating spiral to create a hallucinatory effect and make the viewer experience a sense of dread and feel that they were getting pulled into some sort of void (a symbolic interpretation of my title). The last scene, which features a gif of a girl with a tear rolling down her cheek, has been inspired by Mitski’s “Townie” music video, which is filled with a series of hand drawn gifs that express the self destructive and discontent nature of a young adult, which is quite similar to the narrative of the video I was creating. I attempted to re-create this hand sketched gif using Gimp and my Wacom tablet, however I felt that I used too few layers, which resulted in an animated gif that was too rushed up and had a rocky transition between the frames. For the BPD video, I was particularly inspired by Jim Goldberg’s short video for his photobook, “Raised By Wolves” which features teenage runaways in Hollywood Boulevard. The juxtaposition between the young, innocent faces of the subjects and the dreary nature of their narratives interested me and I attempted to re-create this effect in my own video, which featured a childhood photo of my cousin contrasted with lines from her narrative. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.11.05 PM While creating my videos, I discovered a variety of tools that complemented the nature of my narratives. For instance, I used a combination of “Bad TV” (warp, old and weak)  and “Set Channels” effects to create the damaged VCR effect with the static lines. The “Bad TV” effect was used to create the static lines while the “Set Channels” effect was used to create the glitch text at  the beginning. All three of the kinetic texts shared a common theme of the narrators describing themselves as feeling like ghosts and wishing to float away. The “Set Channels” effect proved to be a very efficient tool in helping to convey this in images and text. For instance, I created three layers of the same text and would modify the channel information in such a way that the colors in the images would get separated and created the effect of the person in the image “floating” away from herself (see picture above). I also heavily experimented around with the “Fractal Noise” effect which helped to create the jittery effect for the text and animated shapes in the video and created a sense of heightened anxiety. I was also interested in creating a zoom in affect where it feels like a camera is panning towards infinity. I tried to convey this in the first two videos which featured the narratives about depression and BPD. This was achieved by making the text 3-D and altering the key frames for  it’s orientation. For the backdrops, I decided to create visual representations of a galaxy and glowing tunnel; both of which convey a universal sense of infinity. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.12.28 PM   Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.13.41 PM I wished I had a better understanding of key frames and transition between different scenes , as I felt that some scenes were too rushed to properly convey something impactful. I also wished I had more time to compose a musical composition for my videos, as that would have made the animations  more effective in manipulating the viewer’s emotions and would have been more engaging.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: IV

IMG_0224 (1) IV is a top down RPG that tries to model the American medical industry within a video game using mythic imagery. Currently I’m at a place in the dev cycle where most every art asset is in the game, however the actual coded mechanics don’t quite work yet. The project had some major surprises, notably the coding and character animation came remarkably quick but the terrain and tile maps came much slowly. This is probably due to me using a different program (photoshop) and technique for these tiles than I did on my last game The Strength Needed. Much of the design choices came from this place of experience/need for growth. I wanted to expand my artistic skill set this semester by making the terrain far prettier than last semester. The main character had much of the same sort of art style I had cultivated before, but used some more complex shading techniques that made them seem more dimensional. I think I surprised myself this time with how quickly the character designs came out. Initially I had many different full walk cycles for multiple different characters that didn’t make it into the final cut of the game, but I still might use these assets and the practice they afforded me in future projects. I discovered a sort of natural ability to design characters this semester which honestly surprised me as I’ve had plenty of doubts throughout the year about my ability to draw/make pixel art. I had a lot of artistic inspiration from the game Hyper Light Drifter and used much of the articles I read interviewing the developer Alex Preston as guides for making this game. In addition, the games Lisa, Undertale, and What Now? as models for some of the things I wanted to do with odd mechanics. I did definitely learn how to do tilesets better this semester, which overall has aided my skill set as an artist quite well. The extra practice on characters also undoubtedly will make future projects that much faster. In addition, I think my skills as a designer definitely saw some improvement. On previous projects I don’t think I would have done much to draft out a main mechanic. Really thinking about the internal logic of the game’s central mechanic became a rather good thought experiment and practice for the future. The whole process of making a mechanic that didn’t play by conventional game standards made me question how to defy typical mechanics even more. However, although I cultivated a better sense of art and design I will mention my coding still feels subpar. While I’m aware much of my strife came from a major setback in the dev cycle when my computer lost all its data and was out of commission for two weeks, the fact remains that coding takes me far more time than any other aspect of the project and I should leave more time for it on my next project. Although I thought I managed my time well, clearly I’ll have to get better at deadlines in the future. IMG_0227   Best, Chris Haehnel (Kit)

Conference Project Post-Mortem: ADHDRPG!

Gamepic My game this semester is ADHDRPG!, a semi-autobiographical depiction of what it’s like to have undiagnosed ADHD in middle school. The game as I envision it depicts a week in the life of a girl (named Claire, after myself) as she attempts to navigate home and school while dealing with her ADHD. At home, she must manage to get out the door in the morning with everything she needs, a challenge that increases in various ways as the game goes on. At school, she battles the various manifestations of her ADHD, such as homework and distractions. gamepic5 I am still fairly early on in the dev cycle for this project, unfortunately.  My artwork is very involved and detailed, and I’d say that’s the most advanced aspect of my project. There are many objects that I have created art assets for but not implemented or implemented without planned interactivity. As far as coding goes, I got so far as to implement basic enemies into the game and add a system for killing them. If the game were to become fully realized, I’d say that I’m probably a quarter of the way through. gamepic2 I was surprised by how easy the coding aspect of the game was. I have a small bit of experience with Javascript, and while much of the actual scripting was different, the logic carried over to a surprising degree. Most of my problems came from careless errors, which were annoying but ultimately easy to fix. The most surprisingly time consuming thing was the art — I never realized how much I could agonize over the placement of a few pixels. To my pleasant surprise, I was more talented at pixel art than I thought. However, this came with the unfortunate flip side of me often wanting to go back and redo older assets as my skill increased. gamepic3 Other than a skill with art, I’d say I definitely gained more confidence in my ability to write code. In a less quantifiable sense, I feel like I have a better eye for design than I did when I had started the semester with no education on visual design and little on game design. That’s my biggest concentration in the future — improving my game design skills. I want to be a designer and a writer, and while art assets and code can always be done for me by someone else, design is absolutely necessary if I’m to lead the creation of a game. I really learned the value of feedback from my classmates, so I’ll definitely take advantage of any playtesters I can get for future games. gamepic4 I was really inspired by all of the projects created by my classmates this semester. I feel like every game that each of us created had different strengths, and every creator stood out from the others in their own way. The sense of humor in David’s game, the beautiful art in Colin’s, the use of a small and detailed space to create compelling story in Chris’ are a few of the many standout examples of things that I take as inspiration for this and future games. gamepic6 My one regret is that my time management absolutely could have been better than it was. I was hesitant to implement functionality into my game before making the necessary art assets, so that contributed a lot to me not having as much code and interactivity in as I could have. I learned that I need to create a stricter dev cycle and really stick to it. This summer, I plan on trying to finish my game. If I can create that structure for myself I’ll be at a huge advantage over where I was. I also hope that someday working with others on a game can keep me to task.  

Systems Aesthetics: Corporate Bliss

George Washington - Mike Brondbjerg

George Washington – Mike Brondbjerg

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 12.02.43 PM

Thomas Jefferson – Mike Brondbjerg

Part 1 of the sketch

Part 1 of the sketch

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

Proposal: My Systems Aesthetic’s conference project has truly evolved. It began with some inspiration from Mike Brondbjerg, who created a project called Dead Presidents (http://www.kultur.design/portfolio/dead-presidents/) . He worked with portraits of old presidents and beautifully “distorted” their faces. In the beginning I didn’t really have an idea with what I wanted to do. Did I want to re-create Brondbjerg’s work? Upon our first conference project, Angela and I decided that I would need to convert original images into SVG images and then learn PShape. I created my first sketch with an SVG image of Homer Simpson and Friedrich Hayek. The Homer image was easy but the Hayek image was an actual portrait I wanted to use. I was inspired by Tim Wu’s book, The Attention Merchants. Tim Wu famously coined the term “net neutrality” which advocates free access of content to all Internet users. Within the depths and depths of content found on the Internet, such a stance is necessary. Tim Wu examines how private lives have been permeated by capitalism. The lack of space to breath from advertisements has encouraged people to stay less informed politically and diminished democratic participation. The evolution of the media of mass communications is primarily driven by technological innovation.Wu suggests that one of the first stages of grabbing attention came from newspapers, with the advertisements of Jules Chéret. Advertising brought me to my final project: company logos. I was also inspired by the television show Silicon Valley’s title sequence of Uber and Lyft struggling against each other.   Digital technology has allowed humans to advance their freedom; however, capitalism limits this freedom. Robert McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning The Internet Against Democracy, compliments Wu’s book by examining how companies control the Internet. Through lobbying, the government has allowed a few companies to control and regulate the Internet for profit. Advertising traffic is monitored and sold in order to commercialize the Internet. For example, Facebook likes are monetized for advertisers. A quote from McChesney’s book prompted me to choose these specific companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. However, 4 logos were not enough to take up a sketch. I looked up other corporate and media influencers and found: Twitter, Walmart, Snapchat, BP, and HP. These companies all have the power to influence public opinion.   After the election, I was extremely angry at the media – because I spend the night at the Javits Center expecting Hillary Clinton to win. As she was losing the monitors were showing some political talk show. A political elite, either Rachel Maddow or Nicholas Kristof, stated that average Americans would blame the media for Clinton’s loss. While there are many factors behind Trump’s election, that statement angered me greatly. Between the end of November and February I stopped checking my social media accounts and by association the news. I was completely unaware of Donald Trump’s antics, the latest memes, and shopping trends. It was a blissful time but inconvenient. I had no idea about the Russia scandal. I had little to no knowledge of the officials Trump was picking. People need to know what goes on and that means sacrificing attention to advertisements. The blending of factual content and advertising in the media makes it difficult to escape. The Internet is becoming a less regulated place, in which large companies can control traffic and dictate who can see what. It is best to be aware of it.   This project serves to show the world I think companies have the potential to take over our general day-to-day activities.   Post-Mortem:   I learned a new concept in Processing for this project: Bounce. I also learned how to upload images and logos into an array. The system behind my project is the rules behind allowing the logos to bounce off the sides of the sketch. I also played with frame count, which I had used a lot in Pre-Frontal. I added a quote by Robert McChesney because I thought it would mean something against Microsoft’s Bliss background. All of these companies are competing against one another to see who can influence people more, and then in turn gain profit. Furthermore, the beginning of the sketch contains the drag of the logos because I felt that it created a sort of a maze. Internet users are stuck between Facebook and Google and the conflict between who can grab your attention more.   Next semester, I do hope to learn how to take high definition screen shots of my sketches so that the movies made in MPEG Streamclip aren’t blurry. I am proud of this project because I feel that it conveys how I feel about corporations and the media. The title of this piece is “Corporate Mess”, which I think captures the struggle of companies to maximize profit from users of the Internet. 

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Liquid Light

fullsizeoutput_143e For my conference project, I combined a digital projection of various poems I had written with a liquid light show;  dishes filled with mineral oil, water, and food dye projected on an ELMO overhead projector. IMG_5566 A lot of my poetry aims to simply create another world in which the reader can enter. For my conference project, I aimed to take this experience farther by using the projection to visually create a space. I felt as though I certainly created a space through the projection, but perhaps not my words, as most people didn’t really take much time reading the poetry. IMG_5591 At first, I originally only used two dishes for the oil, water, and dye. However, I decide to try using a third vessel, a large flat-ish plastic box top. I felt as though this made a huge improvement on the quality of the liquid light show, as it allowed me to use more colors without them mixing. If I were to do this again in the future, I would try something other than food coloring, as it didn’t quite have the vibrancy I wanted. I would also invest in clear glass clock faces or something similar as opposed to what I used. It was shockingly difficult to find a clear plastic or glass dish that didn’t have a logo or something on the bottom. Finding materials was probably my biggest frustration. fullsizeoutput_1465 Overall, I was pleased with how this project turned out, as I felt it for the most part accomplished what I wanted it to. I will definitely be using both projection techniques for other projects in the future.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Music and Motion

For my conference project, I intended to compose songs in GarageBand and create an animation to go along with them in After Effects. I had genres in mind for songs and I somewhat stuck to them, but varied slightly. I did make an electronic song, but the other song that I intended to be a classic band setup turned into more of a keyboard-oriented 70s disco piece. This is a result of where I happened to be at the time I made the songs: I was listening to other songs from the 70s which influenced my style. I planned on using markers, but I found another system that worked even better: in GarageBand the soundwaves of each instrument are visible in coordination with the time of the piece, which also includes time in the same way as After Effects (24 frames per second). So, I looked for the beats in the soundwaves in GarageBand, found the corresponding time, and animated to the beat. However, I had issues with memory which made playback difficult, especially for the first piece, which made it double-check my work. The first piece, which had more chaotic rhythmic elements, resulted in more abrasive animation at times so I aimed to make my second piece more organic and relaxed.
A screencap from my second video. I used the Kaleidescope and HexTiles effects often as I feel they have a 70s characteristic.

A screencap from my second video. I used the Kaleidescope and HexTiles effects often as I feel they have a 70s characteristic.

I think I succeeded at this. Going from the first project to the second project changed my overall conference because I learned from my first mistakes and tried to refine them for the second piece.
A screencap from my first video. The background shapes and their color schemes were my favorite part of this video.

A screencap from my first video. The background shapes and their color schemes were my favorite part of this video.

While my time management could have been better, I am surprised how well my projects turned out for being done at late hours. I believe my second piece does look good because the effects range from simple to complex but all still enjoyable to watch, while my first piece could use more refinement because some animations felt too rushed and some parts too static. In the end, my inspiration for the first video was late 1980s aesthetics and the second video was early 1970s aesthetics. I am satisfied with the work I have created and feel it reflects my artistic development over the semester accurately.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Glitch

Glitchy Galaxy Flower - Copy doodle 11 PixelStaticStream   My conference project was making glitch art.  I took patterns that I made in GIMP, then I put them into Java with the software, Processing.  The first three images are the patterns that I made.  The last pattern was already glitched inside of photoshop, then it was put into processing.  The last three images are frames from the coded program.  The code turned out just the way I wanted it to.  Granted, I only have so much control over what the final product looks like because the code is semi-generative.  But, I am completely happy with how my programs turned out!  The colors all look great, and I like the way they change. The thing I am not happy with in my project is how the frames saved.  There is a lot of black that gets added into the images, which muddies the image and hides a lot of the detail.  I am not exactly sure why it happens, but it makes the project look less like how I want it too. A lot changed from when I started to what I ended up with.  I experimented a lot with different ways the glitch could be created and how it affected the image.  I made many small changes that either changed a lot in the way the code works or changed only a slight amount.  I took the three versions that I liked the most out of everything and then made more changes to those.  I added some coded patterns, which helped the code become less stagnant and change the color.  The patterns I created were easy to come up with; they took a little bit of maneuvering to get right, but they weren’t too difficult to incorporate.  The last glitch that I made (the last image) took a little more work to get the additional patterns included.  I struggled getting colors that I liked to match the glitch.  I wanted similar colors, but they either didn’t look quite right, or they didn’t stand out enough.  In the same glitch, I originally had a different base pattern that got glitched, but I ended changing it to the final version because I thought it looked better and I liked the colors better. I like how my work turned out overall.  I think it suits my style as an artist, and I think that if I were to do the same project over again, I would end up with a similar project.

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Bueno, Claro Que Si

Screenshot_01_molina My conference project is a reflection on my heritage as a Cuban-American. Bueno and Claro Que Si are two phrases that come up quite often when in conversation with Cubans. The project is comprised of three separate videos. The first video is more of a reflection of who I am and why I look the way I look. The second video is a reflection on working at a sneaker store where most of the customers only speak spanish and I can only communicate in Spanglish. In the third video I used footage of my grandmother describing parties in Cuba, translated it (for the most part), and used kinetic text to type it in english. Each video uses rotoscoping to include short animations relevant to the kinetic text. This was my mission when going into my conference project- to use kinetic text and short animation together. The short animations and text were all drawn out in advance in order to set up my animations with kinetic text first, make the small animations second. I tried using different effects, using shape motions to interweave text and animation, and using different colors. screenshot_02_molina In the first animation I wanted to use the colors of the cuban flag, which also happen to be the colors of the American flag. On of the longest rotoscoping animations I made can be previewed above. I simply took a video of myself holding an expresso cup and holding it up to my mouth as if I were drinking from it. I then took that footage, created different frames from it, and drew over the video to create a short and sweet animation. I started with hair, then body, the expresso cup, then the coloring on the cup. Although I do like the first video I am more proud of the second half than the first. screenshot_03_molina The second animation is a reflection of my time working at a sneaker store and working with customers who only speak and understand Spanish. I wanted to convey my frustration with customers, and the situation. In this projection I wanted to use a different color scheme than most of my projects in general and get away from using grey or white. I decided to use blue because it is a color involved with the company I work at. The video was planned with kinetic text and where I would insert short videos. I also played around with drawing simple circles and making them into borders. During my conference project work I also discovered the beautiful revelation that I could make my own images and videos into tiles using effects. I love the dangling feet with shoes in this animation and the idea is reprised again with a border of legs. screenshot_04 I had a hard time in the third animation because I am very bad at drawing faces, so I will often revise it over and over only to make the faces look even messier. I threw out another rotoscope section in the animation because I did not think it was well enough done. At the end of the video my grandmother plays the piano and I rotoscoped a piece. For this piece, I went in and erased the face, and although there is no face detail now I am still very much overall happy with how it came out. I used a photo my grandma has of Cuba hanging up in her kitchen throughout. This piece was definitely much more for me and my family than anything else. I have always been interested in the parties in Cuba, and the balls my grandmother would attend. The video footage was something I have had for quite some time, and used to help me write a screenplay I had been writing. I always intended to use the footage in this sort of manner and I am glad I finally was able to. I am very happy with how it came out. Over all, my project was very time consuming but worth it and something I am definitely proud of. I do wish the three videos looked a little more similar only to make it more clear that the video are indeed part of the same project and series. There is a part in the second video where the kinetic text goes incredibly faster then I wanted it to, but I think it works only to express how frustrating it is to work in retail and have several people speaking to you at once. I left it alone, only for this reason and hope it is conveyed in this manner. The first video too, I wish I had done something slightly different with the beginning. Working on the project I learned I work very slowly. I make mistakes, and immediately go back to perfect them. I had to learn to let go and not make every singly frame perfect. It was also a part of the look that I was going for. An artist I looked at was Julia Pott, a lot of her work looks a little messy but there is a sweet charm to it that I really like. I tried to copy this charm and I hope I got a least a little bit of it. I am very happy with how my project turned out!    

Conference Project Post-Mortem: Found Poetry

Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.45.50 AM My conference project is titled ‘Found Poetry’. It is an exploration of words found in the real world that form unexpected poetry, or that can be rearranged to make poetry. The two videos that I made were a song mashup and an animated refrigerator covered with word magnets, but the concept of found poetry could extend to interesting bumper stickers, street signs and license plates, graffiti, emails, notes – essentially any words that are found in the world and have a poetic aspect. When I originally started thinking about my conference work, my idea was to create an intricate animated wallpaper as either a video in After Effects or a series of GIFs. I liked the idea of taking a mundane surface found in houses and making it into a living background, so I envisioned a detailed wallpaper pattern with birds and flowers such as those designed by William Morris, in which the different parts of the pattern moved and appeared to come alive. After struggling to draw a decorative pattern that I was satisfied with, I switched my focus to kinetic text, which I found very rewarding. I learned that I work best in After Effects when I can take a long period of time (at least 6-8 hours) and focus on completing a section of video, because it takes a while to get into the flow of the work, and also because troubleshooting/learning new techniques can take a while. I also found that new ideas came to me in the process. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.42.26 AM My conference video “Fridge Poetry” draws on my ideas about taking an everyday object and creating an animation that makes it appear alive or enchanted. The poems in this video are ones found on my real refrigerator at home, made from set of word magnets by my roommates and I. I picked some of my favorites and made word tiles for each one, as well as individual tiles for the consonants that occupied their own tiles. I then took a photo of my refrigerator and Photoshopped the background so that it created a blank slate to begin animating the poems. I tried to use varying speeds for each tile I animated to give the appearance that an invisible presence was thinking of what to write and then moving the tiles across the refrigerator. Overall, I think this tactic was successful, but I find the video more visually satisfying at the moments in which multiple tiles are moving at the same time. If I did this project over, I think that I would add a few more poems, make the tiles smaller, and make the pace at which the poems form slightly faster by increasing the number of times that multiple tiles move simultaneously. I found that the best way to create a random rhythm in the movement of the word tiles was to animate them without checking the time signature and avoid making changes at exact intervals.   There are two other elements to the video: GIFs and a list of imaginary chores. The imaginary chores ranged from ‘drain the swimming pool’ to ‘filter the potion’. I added this list at the end of the animation and made it appear to float down from above the fridge and then stick. It was fun to come up with the ‘chores,’ and I think it adds to the fantastical element of the video. chores I made GIFs of a flower, a hopping spotted green frog and a crescent moon in Photoshop, which I inserted into the video like living fridge magnets that move around the screen. This was the most difficult part of the project, because when I tried to add the GIFs to the animation their previously transparent backgrounds became white. I also needed to figure out how to loop the GIFs for the length of the video so that they would play continuously. After an absurd amount of googling (some forums claimed that trying to work with GIFs in After Effects was simply a bad idea) and about four or five hours of trial and error, I eventually figured out how to remove the white background and loop the GIFs, so that I could animate them. I’m happy I stuck with it, because I like the simplistic but satisfying effect of the repetitive motion of a GIF interacting with the environment of the video. frog     flower My other conference video is titled “My Never Sunshine,” and it is a kinetic text video inspired by and set to a mash-up of the songs “You Are My Sunshine” and “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. “You Are My Sunshine” was one of my favorite songs as a kid, because I had a wind-up teddy bear that played the melody. One day while thinking about ideas for kinetic text, I got both songs stuck in my head. I looked on YouTube and found a live recording of a mash-up that I liked: You are My Sunshine/Ain’t No Sunshine (Mash-Up) by Justin Sinclair & Jamey Geston. It became the basis for a lyric video of sorts, with the lyrics scrambled to create cognitive dissonance between the audio and the visual. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.47.06 AMI liked the idea of these two songs together, both more or less sad love songs (depending on how they are played), both focusing on the idea of the presence or lack of sunshine. Instead of a visual focusing on the sun, what came to mind was a background of intricate clouds. Clouds are still sky-themed and denote the absence of sunshine, although my clouds are quite cheerful in appearance. I made a background image several times larger than the size of the video composition and then animated it to give the appearance of a camera panning across the sky. The clouds are a pattern with similar form and scale, but some variation in color and texture. The sound of the song is quite melancholy, but the bright blue of the sky and the simple visuals (a rainbow, sunbursts, flying bird silhouettes) create a cheerful and calming effect. Most of the visuals are individual GIFs which I then imported into After Effects and animated. I think this worked particularly well for the flying birds. sun 2birdsOne of the most difficult parts of creating this video was drawing the rainbow, birds and sun in Photoshop. I originally wanted more true-to-life representations, but I was faced with a lack of technical skill. I ended up returning to the simple lines that I used to draw with as a kid, and I actually ended up enjoying the final effect, which I think is imperfect but visually satisfying. Screenshot 2017-05-05 at 7.43.26 AM I like the layers of contrast in the piece, both between the song and the mismatched lyrics and between the melancholy tone of the words and music with the bright, happy visuals. I think this contrast adds interest and complexity to what would have otherwise been a fairly simple piece. It’s confusing, but in a good way.     

Conference Project Post Mortem: Interference

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 10.56.47 PM “Chromointerference”, as artist Carlos Cruz-Diez dubs it, is when colors are side by side and their unique wavelengths obstruct one another and produce a new color, a color that isn’t actually there but is only a perception of the eye due to wavelength interference and light. Through studying more about Diez and the work of op artist like Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Josef Albers, as well as Anni Albers I became deeply inspired by what different visual perceptions can be created. carlos-cruz-diez-chromatic-induction-dual-frequency-permutation-5-800x800

Chromatic Induction Dual Frequency Permutation Lithograph by Carlos Cruz-Diez.


Serie Semana – Martes Lithograph by Carlos Cruz-Diez

CD and Dawn

Carlos himself in his “Chromosaturation” light installation at the University of Essex (he’s too cool!)

For my conference project, I created 10 animated gifs that focus on color, line, and viewer perception. I strived to manipulate viewer perception by creating movement/moire effects, as well as, an interference of colors. interference_101 This first gif is one that I wanted to be informative, as I am learning about color theory through this project and hope to teach someone else something new as well. The blue lines are above a moving gradient from orange to green. When the gradient passes through the blue lines the wavelength of the blue interferences with the gradient, producing a new gradient from pink to light blue. Blue + Orange = Pink Blue + Green = Cyan I didn’t want the lines to cover the entire canvas so that the viewer could understand what was really happening in this gif. interfering_quad This gif actually came from work I did in analog form. I had silkscreened a print that had the pink, yellow, and cyan interference and here I greatly expanded upon it and animated it! Though one of my more simpler gifs, I like this one the best. Maybe because I get to see my work translated from analog to digital form, which is cool. But I also like this one because it’s informative if you really study it and produces one of the most successful interferences (of my conference) in my opinion. I also noticed that black works best when creating color interferences. It defines the other colors more and makes them more pronounce. The next three gifs were created by overlapping different color tiles that I made. Though I only rotated between 4 different colored tiles (red, orange, green, and blue), dependent on which ones were used and the background, an large array of different effects and combinations were created. rasta_quilt This gif was created just by overlapping red and green. Who knew it would produce a yellow color?! It was best executed on a black background. I had made the same gif with a white background but the color interference wasn’t as strong. There are only two layers interfering and just in a horizontal direction but the constant motion makes it feel as if there is more dimension than is actually present. I was pleased that this gif (and the following two) had both interference and a moire effect. easter_morning I created this gif by placing a green and blue tile over a gradient of red to orange. This combination produced an entire array of colors that feel very 60’s to me but also remind me of Easter morning. Everything is moving at the same speed, but the way the tiles interact with each other feel as if some parts are moving faster or slower than others. Due to the order I overlaid the tiles, some interferences appear in disappear which is neat. pop This one, for me, is somehow offputting and striking at the same time. The colors are horrendous in my opinion, but there’s just so much visually going on! This is the culmination of all four tiles (red, orange, green, and blue) interacting with each other over a black background and moving in both the horizontal and vertical direction. hue Here in this gif the two outer boxes reveal what’s interacting in the center. I like this gif particularly because it switches between interferences making you perceive a color and you seeing that actual color. It’s also one of the more dynamic gifs I made that you don’t have to turn away from. To me, it’s quite soothing, though it was the most difficult to make. Each box is a separate gif that I made into that pattern. Some boxes cave in and some boxes push out. There’s variance without it being overbearing. sw Here I have rows of arrows crossing over a pattern. The interference here is created not by the colors crossing over another or just existing beside each other, but through the movement of the arrows over the pattern. The colors used were magenta, red-orange, and cyan. The best interference is in the middle where the arrow moves over all three colors. Though I will have to say that to see the best effect one should be standing a bit farther away in order to see the full interference. That’s the thing though I guess about the entire project. These interferences work best on a smaller scale. All of my gifs are parts of larger scale work I made that I scaled way down and multiplied! The funny part is the best stills of the gifs are my thumbnails. You really experience the full effect. quad_5 This gif kind of happened by accident and through the most trial and errors of any of the gifs I’ve made. I think I have 5 other versions of this gif. I liked this one best due to this particular moire effect. It reminds me of a kaleidoscope! It’s a combination of pieces of a gif I made that had a black tile over a pattern of blue, hot pink, green and black lines. prism When studying more about color theory and interferences I looked into the color additive model. When red, green, and blue (RGB) light intersect one another they produce white (the combination of all colors). I was then super determined to see if I could produce a white pattern and gif just by using RGB. I was sadly, but also thankfully mistaken. The geometric shape I made at the center of the gif consists of several layers of an RGB gif I made. I thought if I could get the lines minuscule enough it would produce the effect I wanted. Instead of white, it produced a rainbow spectrum (which in turn actually makes sense)! I juxtaposed the shape in front of a rotating background of black and white lines. Since the shape is in the foreground and the background is rotating so fast, the lines almost look like they’re producing their own moire effect even though they’re not interacting with any overlapping lines themselves or scaling in size. I expanded more on RGB with this next and final gif. I think it shows both the RGB pattern but also the rainbow interference that is produced due to the moire effect in this gif. rgb_moire This project was both wonderful and hard. It pushed me way out of my comfort zone. I was forced to use color! I don’t like to think I’m an artist or designer who is afraid of color, but there does seem to be a general black and white theme in my work across all forms. This project allowed me to learn about art history, color theory and produce an array of colors in my work, all things I never really did before. It was rewarding to be inspired by analog forms of art, especially as someone who prints and illustrates, and have that translate and breathe new life into my digital work.

Conference Project Proposal: Animate with Simple Elements

image4 (1)image5 (1)   I am taking Art and Perception class with Elizabeth.  From that class, I have learned artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky who were interested in flat paintings that are composed from simple elements.  I am inspired by how simple shapes can create complex and beautiful compositions. My another intention is to practice my skill of using after effect by animating paintings or a composition.  The process of giving a work the motion also challenge on my creativity.   Also, I want to animate something base on my previous work of abstract and simple shapes, inspired by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.  I believe that abstract shapes are much more compelling, natural, and sophisticated.  If time allows, I am also going to rework with my animation with interesting colors. For me, sometimes a better animation archives without too much design and plan at first.  I don’t want to set my mind on what exact design I will create.  I want to explore as much different effects as I want for my animation, just to experience different effects. The above pictures I took from my sketchbook was also my expression of lines and shapes in a repetitive pattern.  They are also going to be a source of my animation design.   1) first project: animating Kandinsky’s Blue: blue-1922.jpg!PinterestLarge Wassily Kandinsky, Blue, 1922 I am starting with expressing my imagination on different part of the drawing: the bull’s-eye like group of circles, the upheaving waves, the ladder-like line group etc.

Conference Project Proposal: Found Poetry

My conference project will consist of two videos which utilize kinetic text and animation. The central theme is found poetry, or words found in the world and transformed into something poetic. They also utilize animation of shapes and figures to add to their visual interest.

Still from ‘Fridge Poetry.’

The first video is titled ‘Fridge Poetry,’ and its inspiration is exactly that. I own a set of small fridge magnets, each with a single word printed on it, and my fridge is covered in odd poetic sentences created by my roommates and I. It always amazes me how limited words can combine to convey a new meaning. The video is intended to be a visual representation of a fantastical fridge, with the magnetic poetry as kinetic text being the focal point. I made around 80 individual word tiles, and I animated each one to appear as if someone was dragging it from its place lined up on the bottom of the fridge to form new poems. The pace of motion is varied, which I hope conveys the sense of an invisible someone thinking about what they want to write. To reenforce the fantastical element of a fridge that almost appears alive or slightly magical, I added a list of imaginary chores.

Imaginary chores.

I may also add ‘living’ magnets, such as a flower magnet that unfurls its petals or a frog that hops around. I’m still thinking through this idea. This video focuses more heavily on the words than the second one, and its background is a static image of a refrigerator (my refrigerator in fact, photoshopped to remove the real, boring chore list and to create a blank slate for the animated poems to form).  
sky video projection

‘My Never Sunshine’ projected onto a ceiling.

My second video, titled ‘My Never Sunshine,’ is a mashup of the songs “You Are My Sunshine” by Charles Mitchell and “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. I had this idea because one day I got both songs stuck in my head, and thought that a combination of the two would work well. Since I’m not a musician, I looked on YouTube and found that in fact two artists, Justin Sinclair and Jamey Geston, had recorded a live performance of a mashup of the two songs. (Watch it here.) The concept of the video is to juxtapose the lyrics in the form of kinetic text with the recorded song. I scrambled the lyrics of “You Are My Sunshine,” jumbling the words within the song to create a new poem of sorts, and interposed it with the lyrics of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” keeping each song separate. My hope is that this will create an interesting cognitive dissonance for the viewer as they are reading one thing and hearing another, with both the visual and auditory elements strongly resembling the original song but not matching it. I also used different font colors to emphasize the difference between the songs. My rationale behind using black for “Ain’t No Sunshine” and yellow for “You Are My Sunshine” was to denote the absence or presence of sunlight. Here is a brief excerpt to give an example: Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone You are my grey, my only dear It’s not warm when she’s away You make me mistaken when skies are sunshine Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone The idea of a lack of sunshine led me to a background of clouds, which the camera appears to pan over as the video progresses. I wanted to create the appearance of drifting slowly through a skyscape. The background utilizes pattern, with the clouds forming a somewhat repetitive pattern, and some of the individual clouds themselves being made up of patterns. At strong beats in the song, I will add new visuals, such as a rain cloud, a rainbow, a sunburst or a bird flying. Despite the melancholy tone of the song and the lyrics, the overall effect is somewhat cheerful due to the use of bright colors and crisp, clean lines.

Still from ‘My Never Sunshine.’

My motivation behind this conference project was to combine kinetic text with pattern, since they are the two parts of our course that spoke to me the most. Found poetry works well for me because I love words but struggle to create completely original creative content (I am more comfortable with writing essays than poems). I like that found poetry takes something already in the world and transforms it into something new and different but somewhat reminiscent of the original. I have also always enjoyed small pieces of found poetry in the real world, such as clever license plates, song mashups, bumper stickers, street signs and bathroom stall graffiti poetry. They have a surprising and whimsical effect that I hope to emulate with these videos.

Conference Project Proposal: Storytelling

SAB SovereignFor my conference project, I will make 3 animated texts in Adobe After Affects, each around 4 minutes long. The text in each animation will convey a short story in a poetry-like and narrative fashion. Each animation will also involve shapes moving across the screen to further convey the story being told. I will play with fonts styles and manipulation of the text to add a bit of texture to the animations. (i.e. play with font size, placement on the screen, and other effects like opacity) Also, I might add audio to each animation where I would sing the poetry as if they were lyrics to a song, but I am dedicated to that idea yet. SAB MazeMy motivation in creating this project is curiosity. I want to mix creative writing and poetry with the shape motion and kinetic text skill set I have gained in class. In the above image taken from one of my animations, simple rectangles are placed vertically and horizontally near one another to convey the illusion of a maze in a dark room. The text itself is bright yellow for visibility and because that is the color depicting the narrator and thus the narrator’s “voice”. The text itself is also placed in a way to movie the viewer’s eye through the maze as they read one word to the next to then form the full sentence. As some background information, kinetic text is commonly used in the opening credits or end credits of movies. For example, the famous artist, Kyle Cooper, has made several opening titles to popular movies such as Flubber starring Robin Williams, or the first Spiderman movie. In each of those movies, the text reflects the theme of the film–Spiderman focuses on the adventures of a man bitten by a radioactive spider, so when the producers and actors of the film are introduced, there are animations depicting the names of the people being caught in spider webs. Spiderman’s title sequence can be viewed on Youtube here. SAB SketchbookIn terms of my process, the above image is an example from my sketchbook on how I storyboard the animations. I jot notes for what I want to happen in each frame, and I sketch where I want the “characters” to be for each line of text. Though the character’s aren’t always on screen, this snippet of a scene does have the two characters present. In these four frames, the purple character narrates while the yellow character, the main narrator and the same speaker from the previous image of walking through the maze, walks along a half circle representing grass. A blue square represents the sky and a gray square that the purple character stands on resembles a dungeon that is mentioned and established earlier in the scene. Though the shapes are simple, they are still able to convey meaning to the viewer without needing to be realistic. For example, the characters are simply a circle for a head and an upside-down triangle for a body, but the viewer can still infer that the two shapes is a person who can speak, or narrate the story to the viewer themselves. As for the rationale of the project, in class I would encounter creative blocks. Animated GIFS were too short to fully deliver an impactful story, and shape animations lacked a guiding focus. I found kinetic text to be my strong suit in that I could combine my ability to tell stories (hence the conference title of storyteller, hur hur) and what I learned from the class. GIFs, while short, could give a taste of a story, a snapshot or a flash fiction, but not a longer narrative. Shape motions could give the sensation of movement and texture but lacked any narrative. Kinetic text, however, guides a story arc that is longer than a GIF, and is emphasized with texture from shape motion. In terms of the content, my stories may be rated PG friendly, but they are often bittersweet. I am usually inspired by antagonists from video games or novels that have a disheartening backstory and I enjoy channeling that sorrow into a story that reflects their perspective…which is often a sad one since they aren’t the heroes of the day, but the villains.

Conference Project Proposal: Interference


Outside of Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Chroma Installation at the SCAD Museum

I will be making 10 animated gifs that will be focusing on color, line, and viewer perception. I want to manipulate viewer perception by creating movement/moire effects and producing an interference of colors.

Serigraph from Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Chromointerference Exhibit

During a trip to Savannah, GA I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum (SCAD Museum). It was there I saw an exhibition of Carlos Cruz-Diez’s work and learned about what he calls, “chromointerference”. He places colors side by side and their unique wavelengths add up to a new color, a color that isn’t actually there but only a perception of the eye due to interference and light. I’ve always been fascinated by optical illusions and graphic art. Most of my work is in neutrals, or black and white. I was very inspired by the use of color in Cruz-Diez’s work and want to implement more color into my work as well. Carlos Cruz-Diez worked as a graphic designer and taught graphic design for many years and was inspired by other op artists and studied the work of Georges Seurat and Josef Albers. Josef Alber’s wife Anni Albers was a great textile artist and printmaker and produced patterns with optical illusion effects, like in her Second Movement II.

Anni Albers – Second Movement II

  Victor Vasarely has also been an inspiration for me during the course. I’m especially fond of his Delocta serigraph.

Victor Vasarely – Delocta serigraph

  Graphically moire effects speak to me because they produce a sense of movement and sensation that isn’t actually present. As your eye moves across Second Movement II some tiles seem to recede and others move to the forefront. Also, there is a wave sensation that makes me quite uneasy, which to me, tells me her effect works! I too want to create a sense of uneasiness and motion like Anni Albers and Carlos Cruz-Diez. For me, I will be working more with lines though as opposed to primarily geometric shapes. My previous work and practice with chromointerference have informed me that the movement produced by moire helps to enhance the interference. With gifs, at least the ones I create, the movement is very fast paced. It’s very easy to perceive things being there when they aren’t actually. It’s only until you really take your time and study something that the truth reveals itself. By interchanging lines of orange and cobalt blue,  if small enough or far away enough in distance, the eye will perceive the color as pink. By interchanging lines of green and cobalt blue, under the same terms, the eye will perceive the color as turquoise or a light blue. I want to further explore this interaction in my conference work and also try and produce new interferences.

Serigraph from Carlos Cruz-Diez Chromointerference Exhibit

My previous work in creating rhythms in tile and patternmaking has been “regular”. I hope that working to produce a moire effect will take me out of the regular rhythm. With this project there is so much that can be done outside of the geometric scope that I’m used to so I will try to also broaden my choice of rhythms. My first plan of action is to work on the colors and their interferences. I will use at least three colors in each gif and each gif will have different predominant colors. The world is my oyster here, so to speak, so in Photoshop I will be experimenting with different interferences. Only until I come up with enough different ones I will start designing my gifs. I like to sketch first before going right to creating in the software. So I will come up with different effects I want. Perhaps one will be more wave-like, another jump out at you, one appear to get smaller etc. By studying the work of op artist like Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Josef Albers, as well as Anni Albers, and Carlos Cruz-Diez most prominently, I hope to not only be inspired by what different visual perceptions can be created but also create my own.

Closeup of the outside of Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Chroma Installation at the SCAD Museum

I think my work as a whole will be very striking. I understand that Op Art is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I hope that by using more color in my work it will resonate more with a wider audience. I personally think that the use of moire effects, as well as, chromointerfernce will create a double visual effect that will be a little more different than what most people might see or think of as Op Art. This conference work will make me a better graphic designer, not only due to the graphic quality of the work but also due to the use of color that I’m not accustomed to and the emphasis of trying to work a little bit more abstractly. I think at least the chromointerference will encourage curiosity. That’s exactly what I like to do. I like to make work that makes the viewer ask “how?” as well as question the the work and themselves. I’m not afraid or upset when someone might say, “What exactly is going on here?!”.

Serigraphs from Carlos Cruz-Diez Chromointerference Exhibit

Conference Project Proposal: Glitches

doodle 12doodle 14doodle 13 I am making a series of glitch art.  It’s made with the programming language, Java, and it’s made with the program processing.  The series takes patterns that I made with Gimp and shifts the pixels around to create a glitch effect.  The art pieces are constantly changing, and the original image is almost completely unrecognizable.  I wanted to make this series because I think glitches look really cool.  I wanted to learn how to make glitch art, and I also wanted to do more art with coding.  This project allows me to combine both programming and glitch art.  The project should be a series of short movies that show patterns changing into glitches.  The viewer should see the change in the pattern, and they should see the pieces change a few times throughout the movie.  My intentions for this project are to make interesting movies that surprise the viewer with unexpected glitches.  So far, I think that my works look good, but I also think that they can go farther.  There can be more changes in the work so that the glitching doesn’t stagnate at a certain point.  With more change in the movies, I think that the series will be interesting to watch.  I don’t know that the movies will look good in a typical sense, but they will definitely be fun and interesting to watch.  I don’t think the movies will necessarily look good because they are glitches.  Glitches aren’t supposed to “look good” but they are interesting.  I plan on trying to add some more things into the code that help change the art over time.  That way there is more change and the works look more interesting.  All of my pieces are made with a variety of colors and patterns.  Motion is used to change the are over time and add movement.

Conference Project Proposal: Music and Motion

Since the time in class we watched Motomichi Makamura’s video for the song “We Share Our Mother’s Health” by The Knife, I’ve been interested in creating motion graphics to go along with music.
A still from "We Share Our Mother's Health".

A still from “We Share Our Mother’s Health”.

  I have watched other animations to songs since and found inspiration in Faye Orlove’s video for the song “Townie” by Mitski. For my project, I have decided to create two 4-minute animations to go along with two tracks I will create in GarageBand. At the moment I do not plan on incorporating lyrics/vocals in the songs because I would have to find a vocalist. I plan on creating one track with the “classic” band setup (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums) and one track that is more electronic and experimental. The animations will be made in After Effects. Though both of these videos focus more on creating familiar objects (medical tools in “Our Mother’s Health” and markers in “Townie”), I aim to make my animations more abstract and focused on motion graphics. I am interested in doing this because I’ve always had a passion for music and find animation that goes along with music to be extremely pleasing. Since these are just videos, the viewer should simply be able to play them and enjoy the audio and visuals simultaneously. I plan on aligning the animation with the beat of the music using markers at specific points. The lack of lyrics may cause problems as in these examples the lyrics heavily helped to distinguish the tone/focus of the animations, but I believe an abstract animation can be just as pleasing to watch. I plan on making the tracks first and then gaining inspiration from what I hear to make my animations. Obviously rhythm will play an important part in these animations, influenced by the music. Repetition will also most likely be important as I plan to repeat certain animations during parts of the music that also repeat, such as the chorus. The pace of the animation will probably be in line with the pace of the music. The other factors, such as color, scale, and pattern, will vary but are not as important at the moment. Side by side, music and motion appeal to the senses in a unique way that I hope to achieve through my project.  

Conference Project Proposal: The GIFer at the Gates of Dawn

My conference project proposal is six GIFs, with fifteen or more frames each, made on GIMP. My GIFS will be inspired by psychedelic art, film, and sculpture. Most of my inspirations come from the counterculture/psychedelic art movement of the late 60s-early 70s. This type of art, from its more colorful, pattern-oriented forms to its satire of contemporary culture and iconography has always inspired my artwork. I also enjoy the freedom of using GIMP, where I can create what I want and not be limited by technical or mathematical properties. I especially enjoy creating interesting, cohesive GIF animations. In my project, I plan to embrace psychedelic art in all its forms, from its most abstract to its most satirical. However, I plan to unite all of these forms into one encompassing moral of psychedelic art: there are many ways to abstract reality. When it comes to the content I will include in my GIF, I get most of my ideas by building an inspiration folder. My folder contains many different artworks from many different counterculture artists, sorted by name. Virtually collecting this artwork allows me to see the plethora of psychedelic art that is possible, identify common themes, and gain inspiration to be able to create my own artwork.
A painted collage piece by Tadanori Yooko, a graphic designer and illustrator. Yooko is one of my inspirations for this project.

Poster for the movie “Diary of a Shinjuku Burglar” (1968) by Tadanori Yooko, a Japanese counterculture graphic designer and illustrator. Yooko is one of my biggest inspirations for this project.

A concert poster for Big Brother and the Holding Company in the Avalon Ballroom (1966) by Victor Moscoso, another counterculture artist. Like in Moscoso's work, I also plan to explore the abstract elements of psychedelic art and the contrasts between bright colors.

A concert poster for Big Brother and the Holding Company in the Avalon Ballroom (1966) by Victor Moscoso, a Spanish counterculture artist. Like in Moscoso’s work, I also plan to explore the abstract elements of psychedelic art and the contrasts between bright colors.

Throughout working on my project, I plan to focus on the following aspects:
  • Animation: Working on these GIFS will be a general exploration of the threshold of computer animation. My GIFS will be an experiment in several aspects; including frame number, frame rate, and the transition of the moving images between frames in relation to the overall quality of the animation.
  • Motion: Building on my goals relative to the animation quality of the GIFs, I will experiment with frame quality, frame transition, frame timing, and shape placement in order to create the illusion of movement through my GIFs.
  • Color: Mirroring the psychedelic art of the counterculture movement, I plan to explore the relationships between bold and bright colors in my GIFS. I plan to use changes, contrasts, and comparisons between color; which includes shifting hue, saturation, and R, B, and G values in order to create different moods and thoughts throughout my pieces.
  • Pattern: Much of psychedelic artwork is made up of patterns. I plan to use symmetry, texture, and balance with shapes and colors to create moving patterns throughout my work. I also plan to experiment with irregular patterns throughout different surfaces.
One problem that I feel that I could face is the poor translation of psychedelic themes to a digital interface. Being as the counterculture took place in the late sixties to early seventies, when personal computers were not yet available, most psychedelic art was hand-drawn, painted, and created. I feel as if the brighter colors, computerized animation, and pixelated images of GIMP may not truly capture the spirit of counterculture art that was.
A 1967 concert poster by counterculture artist Bonnie MacLean. Notice the subtler lines, dimmer colors, hand-drawn lines, and paper look.

A 1967 concert poster by American counterculture artist Bonnie MacLean. Notice the dimmer colors, abstract shapes and patterns, hand-drawn lines, and paper look.

A fractal image by modern psychedelic artist Julia Set. Notice the brighter colors, lack of blending, and computer-generated lines and shapes. It is more bold and flashing than MacLean's work or the work of the previous artists that I have posted. I fear my work will look less authentic to counterculture art as I am using a computer to create it.

A fractal image by modern psychedelic artist Julia Set. Notice the brighter colors, uniform patterns, lack of blending, and computer-generated lines and shapes. It is more bold, bright, and modern-looking than MacLean’s work or the work of the previous artists that I have posted. I fear my work will look less authentic to counterculture art as I am using a computer to create it.

However, I believe that my fear of wanting to make something “genuine”, while valid, is a bit asinine. GIFs are inherently products of the digital age, and to go through with this project, I will try my best to blend the old with the new. I believe that there can be beauty and spirit in any form of art, whether traditional or digital. In addition, I have learned a lot from my time in Digital Tools for Artists that will allow me to convey my message properly. The course taught me to use the tools I have, including GIMP, to my will. I was able to learn how to manipulate the look of an image, using filters, brush types (some brushes come out looking less computer-generated than others, such as the paint brush), toolbar tools (such as smudging and airbrush) and other elements in order to make the image look as I want it to. In addition, artistic concepts that have been discussed in class, such as the different types and ways of creating patterns, proper color coordination, animation storyboarding, shape manipulation, timing, and storytelling through images will help make the messages conveyed through my GIFs not only more concise, but more authentic. The first part of this project, though not yet completely finished, is a simple, forty five-frame self-portrait. I drew a picture of myself in my sketchbook (which I was not able to find at the time of writing this), which I redrew again in GIMP, using bright, primary colors and minimal lines. Although, currently, the colors are bright and there is not as much blending as with the other images I have shown from the sixties time period, it is an experimentation with colors, the abstraction of realism, frame timing and frame rate, the illusion of movement by manipulating shapes and colors, and with unrealistic, “trippy” psychedelic imagery. I believe that I could further improve this imagery by blending the colors of my head (using the “oilify” filter). I also believe that the background could be a little bit more interesting, perhaps even moving, but I do not want to take the focus away from the falling eyeball. self portrait This particular image was inspired by the abstract, colorful portraits of the members of The Beatles by counterculture artist Andy Warhol and by the grotesque psychedelic animation in the Japanese animated feature Kanashimi no Belladonna.
 Andy Warhol's interpretation of The Beatles was a combination of psychedelia and pop art.

Andy Warhol’s interpretation of The Beatles (196-) was a combination of psychedelia and pop art.

Kanashimi no Belladonna (1973) is a staple of colorful and surreal psychedelic animation.

Kanashimi no Belladonna (1973) is a staple of colorful and surreal psychedelic animation.

Even if it is not exactly like the psychedelic art of the 60s and 70s, I hope to portray an array of this weird and wonderful genre of art. I hope that viewers of my works will see the many ways in which reality can be changed, whether colorful, uncomfortable, larger, smaller, faster, slower, or generally unconventional. I hope that, through using a modern medium, I will be able to bring this “vintage” style of art to a new, present-day audience.

Non-Linear Post-Mortem: Heretic

Screenshot (19)   Game Design and Non-Linearity  Heretic is a 2D PRG that follows a young girl living a barren village. Resources are slim, the soil is untenable, and the villagers only think of their own needs for survival. The villagers live in fear of dying and the unknown, and have begun to carry out witch hunts, resulting in the burning of various women at the stake for crimes of witchcraft. The player can choose to leave the village and enter the forest, of which most villagers are afraid. If the player brings an item to the book, the village will be changed – for better or worse. The player can decide the fate of the village and the villagers based on what items they bring to the book. For now, I’ve designed four items that the player can bring to the book – a shepherd’s crook, a sword, a shield, and a potted plant. Each item is symbolic of the change it will bring to the town, though not necessarily in the way that the player expects, and not necessarily in a way that the other villagers are happy with. The potted plant, when brought to the book, will result in the construction of a new garden for the herbalist, giving her the ability to grow more plants. The player can continue this cycle and improve the quality and size of the garden with each trip to the book. However, the blacksmith may feel threatened by the increase to her resources and decide to accuse her of witchcraft, leading to her being burned at the stake. The widow, also, has a shepherd’s crook from her late husband that may be brought to the book. If the player does so, the widow will receive a sheep and a small plot of grass in which the sheep can graze. Again, the player can continue this cycle, but risks arousing suspicion of witchcraft the more the player helps the widow. During witch hunts, the women targeted were primarily women who seemed threatening to the capitalist control of production and reproduction. Herbalists were threatening because they had natural knowledge of plants, and often assisted with women’s reproductive health. This power over life and death was threatening to a system that need to control reproductive power to be able to exist. Widows, too, were threatening, because they existed outside of the bounds of marriage. Ultimately, I would like this RPG to illuminate the sexist underpinnings of the witch hunts, and the way they were used as a means to protect capitalist patriarchal power through player choice and consequence. If the player chooses to bring the blacksmith’s shield to the book, a large wall will be built around the village. They can continue to fortify the village by bringing the shield back to the book, and the villagers will never suspect the blacksmith of witchcraft, because the resources he provides isn’t threatening to the capitalist system. The nature of the book should be ambiguous. It may be magical, or it may simply give the player the practical knowledge to achieve the change she seeks. Originally, I was going to have the player bring items to a gathering of chanting women out in the woods, but decided against it because I play testers very quickly associated it with a coven of witches. The book, to me, represents knowledge, which is ultimately what truly threatened the capitalist regime. This game is non-linear most obviously in that the goal is entirely up to the player – whether they want to help or hurt the village – and in that there’s no set path to reach that goal. Though there are only a few items to bring to the book right now, in the future, I want there to be many more, so that there are even more paths and twists and turns. One path won’t necessarily cut you off from another path – if you build a wall with the shield, you can still bring the potted plant or the shepherd’s crook to the book later. Though it will take a lot more design time, I want this game to reflect the possibility of alternate timelines as Borges described in Garden of the Forking Paths. In one instance of the game, the player may wish to indirectly kill all the other NPCs and leave the village in ruins. In another, the player may achieve a utopian village with bountiful resources and no conflict. In another, the player may try to save the herbalist but attempt to kill the blacksmith and the widow, and so on and so forth. The paths should fork and cross over one another and double back and allow for as much exploration as possible. In a lot of traditional RPGs, players use weapons to combat enemies, and the enemies make up the bulk of the narrative. In this game, there aren’t any discernible enemies.  Yes, you can capture and kill a rabbit – but that’s not an enemy. The player can decide to buy the sword – one of the more expensive items – but the player can’t use it to kill villagers. If the player brings the sword to the book, the player may expect to receive some suit of armor, or a bigger sword, etc. But instead, a random building in the village will be destroyed. Just as the book isn’t necessarily magical, the changes it brings aren’t always good. The changes the book makes depends on the player and the items the player brings, and just as it can help make the village great, it can also destroy the village. In that way, this RPG is non-traditional – often, RPGS have one goal – to save someone or something – and there is one way to achieve that goal. In this game, the goal is up to the player, and the ways to achieve that goal don’t follow traditional narratives. For many games, a sword represents heroism. But in this game, the sword represents the violence of domination and oppression. Screenshot (18) Art Design Overall, I’m satisfied with how the game looks and feels. I drew inspiration from illuminated manuscripts of the 1400s and 1500s – a time of intense upheaval in Europe as the society transitioned from feudalism into capitalism. Illuminated manuscripts were usually drawn by religious orders, and were only accessible by those in power. I wanted to play with their patterns and symbols to evoke a religious and medieval aesthetic in my game, and also to re-appropriate the styles of the books to turn them against the will of the aristocrats that commissioned them – even if they did so five hundred some odd years ago. During my last leg of development, I decided to change the main village to be very rocky and barren, in stark contrast with the forest.  I wanted to convey the level of separation of the humans from the natural world through color in my game. Often, human culture and society feel like they are natural to those participating in them, thought they are anything but natural.  The colors of the human dwellings have bright accent colors that serve to further alienate them from the forest environment.    Screenshot (17)    Screenshot (15) Working in 64×64 in this dev cycle was not the best idea, because each tile took at least an hour to make, if not much more. The rock facade took at least eight hours. I got lost in the artwork, rather than the gameplay.  I ended up spending a lot of time on water tiles that ultimately didn’t get much use in the game, because I worked on artwork before actually testing my paper prototype. I had the idea that the girl would maybe crash land on an island in a boat, but decided to scrap that idea because I wanted her to be a part of the community. I might use the water tiles for a fisherman narrative later, but I shouldn’t have devoted so much time to an idea I was completely unsure of. The walk cycle took a lot longer than expected because animating with pixels was a lot harder than i first thought it would be. It seems simpler because you’re working with small units, but it can actually get harder because making a bunch of squares into a cohesive moving shape is kind of difficult to do when you haven’t done it before. I got so frustrated by the walk cycle that I didn’t finish it till last minute, and then I didn’t have time to code in animation of items being picked up, etc. Animating the movement of the feet was particularly difficult, and I’m still not satisfied with the end result. I’ll probably change it in the future. sheep   What I Learned Always test your paper prototype first! That’s one of the big things I realized this semester. Don’t develop a bunch of art and THEN gameplay, because you’ll end up focusing too much on art and not enough on programming. I have a very clear idea of where I want my game to go now, but I have very little of it programmed because I was focusing too much on what the game looked like, and not enough on what actually happened. I spent hours designing the sheep above and it didn’t even make it into gameplay because I didn’t have enough time to program it. Granted, I still probably would have only been able to code and animate one narrative from beginning to end because the art is so detailed, but I wouldn’t have spent so much time on art that I’m now not sure if I’ll use. If I could go back, I would design in a lower resolution and make my paper prototype before I even touched pixel art. I prioritized art over programming and now my game looks really pretty, but it’s not actually that playable. This was a really hard to game to conceptualize because I was working with really abstract concepts, but I’m glad that I did it. I want to keep working on this game because I don’t think there are a ton of RPGs like it, and the ideas I’m trying to illustrate about capitalism are ideas that I want to continue to explore. Designing this game actually really helped me to understand Frederici’s ideas, in a way that just reading them did not. I had a lot of fun working on this game and I definitely intend to finish it.  

Conference Post-Mortem: Iterative Painting

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-31-21-pm   screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-31-08-pm RGB Grain Ultimately, I have produced five digital, animated, iterative paintings. This was certainly my intention. Nothing really went wrong. However there are some aspects incorporated into my five pieces that surprised me and there are some aspects that, I think, could have been improved and that I hope to improve. Initially, I aimed to make five pieces all based off of my original colorbar class, which iterates pixel-high rectangles of variable color along the height of a five-pixel-wide bar that can be moved across the screen, essentially “painting” itself if the background isn’t called. Moving forward with the class, I simply wanted to incorporate the new skills we learned since the early days of for loops. Not so simple, actually. I didn’t have much difficulty understanding individual concepts over the course of the semester, but in attempting to combine them I found that creative use of these skills together is the real challenge and most definitely the thing I have to play with if I really want creative control over my ideas. The final pieces were much more reliant on variations and additions to the original for loop than I wished. However a couple of the pieces I think were very successful in exploring the possibilities of layering simple loops because of this more reduced framework. RGB Grain (above) is my favorite painting, and it was also the first I coded. It relies on three different colorbars and a basic interactive function to produce semi-predictable color and texture effects and animation. One colorbar moves left, one moves right, and one acts as a shifting color field. The latter is responsible for the more dramatic, intermittent color/texture shifts, as it takes longer to screenwrap and, once it does, it iterates a great number of thin colored lines across the entire canvas at once. A mouse-press function resets this colorbar with a semi-random, red-leaning color-value, and this allows the viewer of the painting to disrupt its semi-predictable loop and introduce more variation, color and texture-wise, into the piece. I titled it RGB Grain because the way the colorbars “ripple” across each other suggests there is a with and against the grain to each of them. screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-31-48-pm   screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-33-32-pm Gross Picnic Blanket and Skywiper My other pieces tended to involve these three more consistently colored color bars than the more variant ones of Cut Canvas and Heat Scan. My experiments were more with composition, rhythm, shape, and opacity. The biggest challenge was making the pieces appear organic and smooth in their changes. I don’t think I was entirely successful in doing this across all five. Most notably, Flared was a challenge. I attempted to use the colorbar from Cut Canvas to make a piece along the lines of RGB Grain. Though I think the dynamic, lively quality of the colors and shapes is interesting, the piece doesn’t vary and evolve as much as it should. The same goes, I think, for Screenbound Ectoplasm Wipe. On the note of that piece, though, I did uncover a couple avenues I would like to explore further in the future through my failures. For Screenbound, I found it interesting how using a noise field of simple shapes below a semi-transparent color bar can produce a textured “trail” as the bar wipes across canvas. Using noise and transparency to create texture is probably the next thing I want to explore in Processing. screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-32-44-pm   screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-7-35-20-pm Flared and Screenbound Ectoplasm Wipe I do wish I had more time to work on most of these. I like to save multiple iterations of a piece as I work on it and discover new avenues. I can make “nice” looking things quickly, but I am ambitious with my ideas and I like to follow through with good execution. Though it’s very easy to get into an improvisatory dialogue with Processing and to get interesting, pretty results in this way, I think having a strong initial idea is very important. Otherwise you can just keep working on one file and it can keep evolving into different things. It’s important to have an idea to work towards. That’s not to say, though, that experimentation in Processing is bad and useless. One of the great things about it is how easy it makes experimentation. Lastly, overall Processing pushed me to work in a different way. I don’t usually think too much about color, texture, etc. in the production of my work in other media. I tend to be more of a conceptual artist who, nonetheless, likes to have sensual qualities in his work. Processing brought me back to basics in a way. I found out that I really lean towards the color blue. It taught me that good work can come from simple use of specific tools, that I don’t always need conceptual justification for making things. In the past few years I have really felt that digital art is very important and will become increasingly so. Maybe the conceptual tendency of my work can simply be bound up in the simple use of a particular tool that I have reason to believe is important. Instead of coming up with conceptual justifications for my use of a particular medium, just let the use of the medium justify itself.