As I am approaching the end of my MFA odyssey my schedule is something like: roll out of bed. work. work. work. work. maybe eat, most likely not. work. work. work. stress out. cry. work. question belief system. work. work. work. collapse. So when Processing creates something quite lovely out of a misplaced for loop, I can't help but go "awww, math is beautiful."
Processing 1.1 just released too. I heart Processing.
Labels: processing, programming, school workFriday, March 12, 2010 // 0 Comments
So for my thesis project--which I've narrowed down to a design exploration of future physical forms of email--I've begun an empathy experiment of sorts. To better understand why people are so compelled to check email constantly, I've decided NOT to check my email at all for a week. I'm writing about it on my thesis blog (which I need to rename), but as it's wrapping up, I figured I'd mention it here.
General thought: not checking email made me deeply anxious. I couldn't take it so I caved for a moment and scanned my inbox for work-related items. I found two requests for the same files (oops) so I uploaded those and sent a message to my employers via IM. I also had to send a file to myself via email because the laser cutter studios would not allow use of a flash drive to transfer a file.
On the other hand, the lack of email--or more aptly put, the lack of twitching my eyes and fingers to look for new email every 5-15 minutes--has noticeably created space inside my cranium. At first it felt a little empty and isolated, but now, despite my growing anxiety, that space feels nice. Quiet.
Labels: school work, thesisSunday, December 6, 2009 // 0 Comments
It's fairly quiet at 3am on a Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The refrigerator makes strange sounds but there's no downstairs-neighbor-bird or question cat (the one whose meows end in question marks) yakking about their days. Although I generally post most of my work to the CCA grad design site, I would rather keep a record of it on my own sites and so here's a big ass post of some of the other strange stuff I've been doing.
To finish up on the previous post about a physical extrusion of a digital existence, after creating the flow of IM (in my head anyway), I wrote out the functions of IM. Then I listed analog analogues (der) with the same primary functionality (communication and record) and THEN I listed why those things were different. I was basically trying to figure out what was unique to IM other than its digital nature. I then started thinking about a tangible system that would replicate IM's uniqueness. Like, whee.
I don't have anything visual to show for those parts. Or I do, but it's ugly. So, instead, enjoy this simplistic representation of networks, systems and applications. (Network is the lines, systems are the circles and applications are the boxes).
Next is a quick presentation on digital and physical convergence in gaming trends, minus my spastic and awkward commentary. I am no gaming expert and it isn't a field I know intimately but I still like to blow sh*t up (or eat tacos as in Time Donkey).
The last thing I'm going to talk about before my brain coagulates is a mind mapping exercise in which I express extreme laziness. In class we created several sets of words and we were supposed to combine those to generate new ideas for things. I took the words and phrases, wrote a program to randomize them and spit them back out at me and then, like, ran it. Here is a small snippet of illegible results.
So I ended up with shit like "platform skin" and "worm hole tech is novelty in food service." It was quite entertaining and I think my brain wants to concept some kind of collective skin device. I don't know what that means really but that's where I'm going, except for the fact that the phrase sounds like collective soul... entirely unacceptable. Maybe it's collective synesthesia. Maybe I really need to sleep.
Labels: futurism, school workThursday, September 17, 2009 // 0 Comments
Actually the assignment was weird but what I came up with was not. I wish the pieces were weirder. I want to work the weird, man. Anyway, the assignment was to analyze some kind of thing that exists digitally and extrude it into physical space. Now that I look back on the work it seems a form study of a digital thing. Also now that I don't have to do it anymore, my mind is semi-filled with abstract forms that have nothing to do with the functionality of the thing that I chose and mostly to do with its structure. Unfortunately when I was doing the assignment I stuck with functional ideas. So here it is:
The digital thing that I chose to analyze was instant messaging (no particular carrier). I wrote down the process by which one person creates an instant message and sends it to another person who reads it. The flip process would be the response. I then drew visual representations of each of the steps (thoughts - units (as I have always physically felt my thoughts as blocks of stuff but that metaphor probably only works for me), words - sentence diagram, fingers - neurons, keyboard - keys, computer - computer chip, modem - a digital signal via an analog wave (not an exact representation but whatevs, I'm sleepy), ISP - network, IM - globs of information traded from one side to another then back through ISP, modem, computer, screen now instead of keyboard, eyes - cones and rods, words and thoughts.
I hoped by going through the process of both verbally and visually defining the thing that I'd have a better understanding of it. I don't know if that's true or not but it was a fun exercise. There are about 7 more pdfs of this assignment but I'll have to wait until later to document them. Too much work left and too sleepy.
Labels: futurism, school work, weirdnessWednesday, September 9, 2009 // 0 Comments
I don't know when this happened but it is now much easier and faster for me to create certain kinds of complex illustrations with Processing than with Illustrator. Weird.
So a network in the context of the assignment I'm working on (go school!) is basically just interconnected units. This needn't have any hierarchy but for whatever reason I chose hierarchy (and now that I type that, I'm going to have to do a non-hierarchical sketch. I kinda can't stand unexplored rocks). So, right now a subunit connects to a main unit which then connects to another main unit which can connect back down to a subunit. I sketched this in my sketchbook, then immediately went to Illustrator and started putting together the sketch.
To be fair, I am quite solid with Illustrator but I don't know the nuances of it the way I know Photoshop and Indesign. There may be a macro-ish function that would allow me to use Illustrator to generate a random number of random beziers which emanate from a single point and then to interconnect each single point with x number of other sets of bezier "flowers." I don't know how to do this, however, and so I would've done the entire sketch by hand and it would've taken me a significantly longer amount of time than it took me to write a Processing program that did the same thing. (That, I wrote in 30 minutes).
And when sketching other parts of the assignment, I can take the same Processing sketch, add two lines of code and have a new sketch. Working with Eclipse lately has definitely shown me how specific (and simple) Processing is in comparison. I am certainly no expert and probably never will be and it's taken 9 months of near daily stammering and cursing to even be vaguely proficient but compare that to the years of study it takes to become a good programmer and I feel like I've found a very pleasant middle ground.
Labels: processing, programming, school workFriday, September 4, 2009 // 0 Comments
One down, two to go. This is one of my final projects for my interactive studio. I figured I'd go ahead and document it before I forgot about it. Plus, I just got back a 42x30" poster and it's perty.
So this graph is the updated version of its little cousin. I just changed the proportions of the graph so it would fit in a traditional poster size (and was therefore cheaper to print), let the highest bars display off the chart so it was easier to see the smaller number of mentions, and rewrote the code a tad so it would display the number of mentions and the war mentioned on the actual bar as well as printing the months at the bottom of the print. I also removed the random opacity. It added a nice texture but it didn't really add any information. Instead, I made all the bars slightly transparent so it was possible to see other wars underneath it. Here's a close-up.
Yay! One project down. Two more to complete.
Labels: api, data visualization, interactive, print, processing, programming, school workWednesday, April 29, 2009 // 0 Comments
For our Interaction Scripting Studio final project, I am focusing on my data visualizations of war, films, media and probably death counts (or maybe just make puppy viewer work dynamically).
So tons of websites with large amounts of data are making APIs available to developers for application development and visualization (Flickr, Twitter, NYTimes, pretty much any next gen website, etc). There are also sites that provide visualization tools for you and encourage experimentation. The NYTimes Viz Lab is one of them. They provide a set number of datasets and a number of tools (like Wordle) and let people go crazy. Google also provides tons of tools including their Google Visualization API. IBM's Many Eyes takes it a step further and allows users to add their own data sets.
It's an exciting field and it makes my brain buzz. However, I found this article in SEED Magazine Getting Past the Pie Chart that talks about how, perhaps, the data viz explosion may not be making data any clearer. There is also a very real danger of making causal connections where none exist.
Still, data visualization done well can be a combination of design and science which becomes beautiful, meaningful and inspiring. I absolutely love it. Here is a screenshot of a project I'm working on. It's the further refinement of one of my original circle graphs. What I'd like to do is see if I can add some more stats to the graph without overloading it. In my head that means tilting the graph back to add a third dimension and perhaps including casualty data vertically from each war (and if I can find it, for each movie the films are about).
Labels: api, data visualization, graphs, interactive, processing, programming, school workSaturday, April 18, 2009 // 0 Comments
An assignment from my History of Media class:
Read 3 issues of a design magazine of your choice, cover to cover--including ads, articles, images. Analyze what the magazine is saying about "good design," design issues, and factors influencing design. Write up your analysis and summarize your key findings to present in class.
We were allowed to work in pairs and so my partner and I chose ReadyMade. We read the 2008 August/September, October/November and 2009 February/March issues of the magazine. One thing that struck us was the large number of things to buy in the magazine. Magazines–especially magazines targeted towards women–are often nothing but catalogs, listing page after page of an idealized world where entrance only requires the reader to consume, just a little, just this month, until the next issue comes along.
We did not expect a magazine devoted to "DIY" culture to fall into the same trap, but it did. Perhaps the magazine was not as trendy, buy-hungry when it was independently published and lacked nationwide ad sponsors. As it stands, we decided to highlight the advertisers to find out more about their perceived demographic (indie rockers), we went through and counted how many products there were for sale versus how many there were to make and we took notes on how much those products cost. Then I went crazy with creating graphs and slides with the data for our presentation.
As a magazine with a theoretical ethos of some kind, ReadyMade does have some nice aspects–most products for sale are under $100 and all the ads are front-loaded so you can read spread after spread of ad-free features. The media kit and advertising sales literature, however, highlights information such as:
Taken together, Gen X and Gen Y wield more spending power than any other group.
These are very smart and motivated consumers. They shop more, and buy higher-ticket items than previous generations.
It's creepy. I can't help but feel targeted (like a deer, not like a market) and manipulated. People often turn to "DIY" business because it supposedly represents independent and unique craftsmanship, a lack of consumerism and a vibrant community–things that are considered the anti-thesis of large corporate marketing campaigns. ReadyMade is essentially saying "hey, big companies, we have access to a market that doesn't trust you. Trust us and you can still take their money."
I should make it plain and say I don't think ReadyMade is evil. I think they (mostly) do the best they can while still trying to earn a buck. The creepy marketing speak is just that, the language of consumerism. Business has time and again taken the fruits of creative labor and independent thought and leveraged it as a strategic advantage against competition. Succeeding in business means destroying other companies because resources are scarce, money is scarce and getting ahead means getting ahead of other people. Is it natural? Sure. Is it creepy? Oh hell yes.
Labels: business is creepy, chihuahua in a jacket, diy, graphs, media, readymade, school workTuesday, April 7, 2009 // 0 Comments
More data visualizations. These all use Processing. The data I eventually was able to scrape includes info from IMDB and the NYTimes API. The first one pulls total instances of the wars as keywords in NYTimes articles from 1981-2008 (they don't have anything indexed before 1981 at the moment), then it spits it out into a long bar chart. The large orange spike is the beginning of the Gulf War. The subsequent yellow/orange spikes are 9/11 and the brownish color spike is the start of the Iraq War. I have no idea what the strange WWII peak around 10/95 is.
This visualization uses both the NYTimes Articles API and the scraping from IMDB. It is a comparison between word counts in the NYTimes abstracts where WWII is a keyword and the descriptions on IMDB of WWII movies. I haven't actually looked at this that much as I just wrote it today (this stuff is all due tomorrow) but the first thing I notice is that in "reality" (the NYTimes articles) Japan features much larger than Germany whereas in the movie descriptions, Germany shows up more often.
These last two visualizations are of the same data set. The most popular movies about wars (according to IMDB) from 1900-2008.
Labels: data visualization, interactive, processing, programming, school workThursday, March 12, 2009 // 0 Comments
So for one of my interactive studios (all my posts start off this way, I should think of something different to say, perhaps involving time vampires) we're doing small programs using sound and choice. Our first two projects were to make a soundboard out of a comic and make an instrument. I predictably pulled something from TekkonKinkreet and added some Buddhist chanting. Then I made some virtual bongos. Painfully simple projects as my brain needed a bit of a Processing break. We have four more projects using sound and choice to create for next Thursday and I've started slowly on a couple with ideas for more in the works.
One is an applet that takes words and plays sounds with them. I'm not entirely sure how I want this to work, or, more correctly, I know exactly what I want this to do, I just don't entirely know how to make it work so that it does what I want it to do. I've spent most of the day poking around with code (making sure a sample plays once instead of starting and restarting over and over again, attempting to split apart tracks so that I can make the applet color-sensitive, etc) and I accidentally ended up with a simple Processing music visualizer. It looks something like this:
I can't really use this for class because it doesn't involve any choice (and I think it'd be kind of lame to slap a text field on here and say "you can change the music" and have *that* be the choice aspect) but I think it's a lovely accident. Much thanks to my awesome classmate Bryan Bindloss, who provided the fantastic samples I've been playing with all day.
Labels: interactive, processing, programming, school workSunday, March 1, 2009 // 1 Comments
For my interactive studio, we're working on data visualizations. As we're only going over it for a couple of weeks, we're doing really basic stuff. I've decided to look at movie data and so far I've got a couple of draft visualizations.
This first one is a simple plot of the top 20 most popular movies (according to IMDB) from various genres over time. Though the colors are too dark, the graph shows basic trends like the popularity of Westerns in the 60s or how more recent animation is much more popular than, say, Fantasia.
I also took the roles of Oscar winning actresses and actors and grouped them into categories so we could see media-based gender roles. This is a much looser interpretation of the data (my categories are obviously somewhat arbitrary based on what I saw as trends) but it's an interesting study nonetheless. As these sketches are done in Processing they take a bit of time for me and my non-programmer brain so I've only fully completed the actresses sketch but here's a screenshot.
This assignment is quite a bit of fun and while the math and programming for most of the beautiful visualizations at places like Visual Complexity is beyond me at the moment, I hope to do some hand drawings, some more intricate illustrations in Illustrator and perhaps a physical data representation of some sort.
Labels: data visualization, interactive, school workThursday, February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments
So we presented our final versions of our clocks yesterday. I was up for most of the week trying to complete them all, unfortunately I did not finish the rain clock or the atomic clock, but there's a bunch of other stuff that's up now (though it requires serious polishing). Here are some of my favorites.
Petri dish clock from below ended up being new petri dish clock above. Sound/cat clock doesn't display the time visually other than responding to a heartbeat sample that beats every second and speeds up over the course of the minute. Every 15 minutes a sample of my cat's voice plays and at the top of the hour, an alarm with a scary cat sound plus a chime that rings the hours goes off.
Block clock just spins. The hours are the darkest, the minutes are the lighter brown (in 5 minute chunks) and the white smaller blocks are the seconds.
Storm clock is the least clock-like of my clocks. Rain falls according to the milliseconds but it's impossible to read. At the top of every minute lightning flashes and thunder booms to tell the hour. Growing up in the South, thunderstorms were common. We'd count "one-one thousand, two-one thousand" after every lightning flash to see how far away the storm was. My storm clock takes that memory and applies it telling the time. If you count the seconds after the lightning hits, the thunder will sound at the correct hour.
Labels: interactive, school workFriday, February 13, 2009 // 0 Comments
I did not document any of my work from last semester online. Or it is all online, but at the CCA Graduate Design website where it doesn't really stand out in any particular way. We did a lot of work, however, and at some point (in the fantastic future where free time is cheaper and more readily available than, say, cat fur in my apartment) I will post them. In the meantime, here are a couple of screenshots of some of my Processing work last semester. I have all the pieces posted on the CCA dada website but I don't imagine that will stick around once I graduate plus I hate tildes.
(UPDATE: I've posted all of my sketches on my own site. Visit my interactive portfolio pages for a link to the sketches and more screenshots.)
Labels: interactive, processing, school workMonday, February 2, 2009 // 0 Comments
We're working with Processing in both of my interactive studios right now so my brain wants to combine the projects. For my early class we're still working on clocks. For my later class, we're still working on valentines. I seem to have combined the camera code from the valentines with the clock dot code I was working on for the clocks and we have camera clock! The computer vision aspect of this clock is more or less superfluous. The squares rotate and lighten with each second of the clock but it isn't really that spectacular of a *thing*. I like the dots clock part (the clock below reads 01:03:43 for example) but I didn't create that either. I just copied it from a clock I saw over the holidays.
Primarily, I've been trying to condense my code. Processing has hour(), minute(), second() functions which makes it super easy to read from the computer's system clock but there is such a huge repetition of functions that there must clearly be a way for an actual programmer (as opposed to me, the hack) to write this code in a few lines instead of 500. Go object oriented programming for designers who are like, "huh?!"
Also, say hello to my straight forward analog clock. After spending WAY too much time trying to figure out the math for getting Processing to read milliseconds from the system clock instead of from when the program started, I just imported a java library that does all that for me and so I got a smooth second hand. Of course, I kept seeing a petri-dish in my old clock so I took out the numbers, turned the face hands (lines) into points and drew a bunch of random dots on the background. Petri-dish clock enabled!
And yeah, at some point, whenever I have the portfolio part of this site done, I will upload actual working applets instead of these screenshots. The programs are way more fun when they're bouncing and moving around.
Labels: interactive, processing, school work // 0 Comments
So for one of our projects for one of my interaction design classes, we have to design and program valentine's widget thingys. Sounds fine to me. I've been sketching over the past couple of days and cobbling together code and so far I have a semi-working, proto-basic sound recorder that displays different red waves based on sound input. Here's a screenshot.
I have to figure out how to take a screen shot and email it (will probably write the image to a buffer and send that) but so far, so fun!
Also, here's a screen shot of the LED clock I programmed for last week. Look at those lovely plotted out vector points that took me 2 hours to plot.
And finally, final fake Furby. The eyelids and beak-simulators move, in a way. Most people in my class did paper prototypes but I think that the physicality of Furby would not translate in paper.
Labels: furby, interactive, processing, programming, school workWednesday, January 28, 2009 // 0 Comments
I had my first week of class last week. It was mostly syllabus-going over, classmate-greeting, self-introducing business. It's strange to suddenly be constantly, insanely busy during the school term after being constantly non-busy during break. I already miss puttering around the apartment, organizing random things, playing video games and the unabashed slacking I've been doing for the past month.
One of my first assignments is to program a series of clocks using Processing (as it says "an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions"). It is not a super-complicated language and is fairly easy to pick up just through the web and a book or two.
But enough about that. Clocks are rad. The first two clocks we need to program are supposed to mimic an analog clock and a digital LED clock. The rest can be whatever kinds of clocks we feel like making. I want to make a clock based on the movements of my cat throughout the day. I have no idea what that means graphically yet but I find it entertaining to think of a clock that meows everyday at 5am. I also want to make a clock out of sound. It could start by following the clock tower, church bell, bong pattern, but I also want the sound itself to be expressive of time passing. At certain intervals the sounds themselves get more frantic (i.e., right before the top of the hour, the sound is crazy and/or right before midnight). Something like that.
I've finished a working version of the LED clock and I can say plotting all the points for each section of the numbers is the most tedious thing I've done in a long time. So, just in case someone ever needs to script LEDs and doesn't feel like figuring out all the points on a graph, here are the coordinates for an 8 (which should cover all numbers 0-9). It's not the prettiest but I think you could make the middle bar a little thinner and it wouldn't be so clunky.
TOP HALF, LEFT SIDE
TOP HALF, RIGHT SIDE
BOTTOM HALF, LEFT SIDE
BOTTOM HALF, RIGHT SIDE
Also of note, links for inspiration: 24 Creative Modern Clock Designs and Tokyoflash Japan.
Labels: coordinates, interactive, led, processing, programming, school workMonday, January 19, 2009 // 0 Comments
For one of my interaction classes I was assigned the task of recreating a Furby as a prototype. It is supposed to be a low fidelity prototype, meaning either a paper prototype or something using the Wizard of Oz method (i.e., a big glowing head that is supposed to be the product but is actually faked by a tiny dude behind a curtain pulling some levers).
The prototype needs to retain and express the qualities of the original so it is recognizable to someone who is familiar with the original product or it imparts a similar experience to someone who isn't familiar.
What I've done is taken an old pikachu doll, duct-taped it up so that it is Furby size (Pikachu was too fat), pasted on fake eyes and mouth parts and I'm using super janky, low-fi sticks and paper to mimic moving eyelids and beak parts. I still have yet to complete the external covering but I seem to have gotten the pre-basic mechanics to work. (I say pre-basic because I have little to no current experience working in three dimensions. I took 2 semesters of advanced calculus and a semester of programming (for scientists) to avoid taking physics in undergrad.) I also have to create a presentation and diagram of the interactions in the next 24 hours. Ack, the work!
Cat to janky duct tape Furby prototype ratio
Labels: interactive, school workSunday, January 18, 2009 // 0 Comments
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The quote at the top of this page is from the March 25, 1893 Newark Daily Advocate via Nick de la Mare..
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