It’s autumn – LA fall is insignificant compared to Pittsburgh fall’s beautifully changing trees. I wanted to create a perspective of moving through a tunnel of trees on a hill. I wanted the trees to be fractal trees, such as the Pythagoras Tree. Later, I came to realize that continuously creating more of this complicated shape in an array is way too inefficient to work properly. To find a more simple solution, I iterated a series of lines that resemble tree branches. As for the motion, at first, I made the mistake of trying to alter the examples, which are moving in an entirely different manner. But after deleting most of that code, I managed to create the basic motion that you can see now. I wanted the trees coming up from the backside of the hill to show the top of their branches before the tree reached the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that. IMG_5671



I wanted to work with overlapping lemniscates and Cassini ovals. If you click, the faded color changes. If you press any key, the shape changes.

Johanna Curves1


I couldn’t figure out how to create all Cassini ovals. Here’s as far as I got. When a>b, b/a <0. So (b/a)-(sin(2t))**2 <0. So the square root of that doesn’t exist, and the vertices don’t exist. I don’t know how to draw the missing shapes separately either.

Johanna Curves2

Johanna McAllister – Looking Outwards-05

Wikipedia is amazing. Massive amounts of contributors and information congregate to accomplish infinite documentation.   Beautifully illustrating the nature of this collaboration, Notabilia is an interactive drawing of the longest “Article for Deletion” discussions.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 2.58.44 PM

The algorithm is simple. Chronologically, whenever a contributor joined the Article for Deletion discussion in favor of keeping the article, a line fragment is drawn towards the left in green. Otherwise, it’s drawn towards the right in purple. A complex tree with obvious discussion patterns results.


This an example of how a few  talented people can create novel, eye-opening work. The Notabilia team was only made up of Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, the informatics expert, Dario Taraborelli, the social scientist, and Moritz Stefanar, who is “into data visualization”. Connected by their interest in technology and people, these three gave us a means to reflect on the nature of discussion.

Jo McAllister – Looking Outwards-04

I think the Electric Knife Orchestra, created by Neil Mendoza, is hilarious.  A bizarre setup, each knife is given a part of a Bee Gee’s song. On Logic, a digital audio workstation, he arranged the song Stayin’ Alive for his sculptural knife creations.

You can see the code he based his on here.  I wish I could understand it more than I do. He programmed the robots using Arduino, and the machines sing the right tune using stepper motors.The-Electric-Knife-Orchestra-by-Neil-Mendoza_07-800x500

Mendoza uses his artwork to create lively, often humorous experiences for his viewers. This is what I admire most about this piece: He utilized coding and the context of his materials in such a way that gives these mundane, dangerous objects a funny personality.

I can only assume this personality is a reflection of the Mendoza’s:


Project 04 Abstract Clock


Playing around with p5, I created a Moire pattern. My original plan (in my sketchbook) was to overlap different orientations of a similar pattern of repeating lines. IMG_5591In the end, the clock measures every hour by the horizontal position of its left curve,  every minute with a completion of the pattern in a unique color, and every 3rd millisecond with a new line.

Jo McAllister – Looking Outwards-03

A water spider captures an air bubble in a thin web, and then continues to reinforce it’s home by adding stronger strands. This is all underwater:Web_Process01

Intricate and ingenious, the only way to make the web better would be to make it bigger.  In the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion, researchers, professors, and students did just that.


Placed in a thin membrane held up by inflated air pressure, a robot arm accurately imitates the spider’s webbed pattern. The robot acts as a 3D printer when it lays down the foundational fibers; it follows the coded orders of architects.

With the current growing popularity of 3D printing, that part of the code that pre-plans the design is only average. A groundbreaking program would make the robot figure out how to build this structure from scratch. The creators of the spider-like robot took an admirable step towards this future. While the robot finishes the foundations, a sensor on the arm inputs how the membrane has deformed, so the robot can adapt appropriately. Variables are changed to accurately calculate the best way to build off of the unpredictable new shapes.

[©(c)Roland Halbe; Veroeffentlichung nur gegen Honorar, Urhebervermerk und Beleg / Copyrightpermission required for reproduction, Photocredit: Roland Halbe]

The team members of this project unveil new ways to make stable, awe-inspiring structures.



Johanna McAllister – Looking Outwards – 02

Emulating Michelangelo’s deliberately unfinished marble sculptures, Quayola’s 3D renderings of  bodies are called Captives. As Michelangelo puts it, they have yet to be freed from the medium by the sculptor.


Reborn from the Italian Renaissance, these figures embody Quayola’s focus on the interaction between novel and old ideas, as well as chaotic and controlled forms.

Michelangelo’s Prigioni

Compared to Michelangelo’s, Quayola’s computer-generated rock patterns reveal their artificiality. However, Michelangelo had an advantage. Whereas he simply had to halt his usual reductive sculpting process to show the jagged marble material, Quayola had to virtually manifest the same crazy shapes from an organized system.

Process of computing nature

Luckily, nature acts in patterns, patterns that Quayola knows how to program. It’s a mystery to me what exact formulas he used, but somehow his algorithm arranges chaotic forms in deliberate places.

Captives impressively illustrates the relation between chaos and systems, computation and nature.


Jo’s Face


Though this is a portrait of who I am, it doesn’t look exactly like my face. It reflects the difference between the fanciful assumptions some make of me and the reality. Many see me as excessively happy-go-lucky and childlike. But I, just like everyone else, can think morbidly. I’m pretty normal, really – skull and all.