I got the basic blob working being satisfying pretty quickly. Fine tuning it took a long time.
I had this whole plan. I was gonna make the background transparent and that would allow me to put an image behind it, and make it look like a piece of mold on a window. Then I would be able to play with colors more since all the logic would be stored in the alpha channel. But alas, I could not get the transparency working after hours of tinkering, leaving me with the slightly lackluster product you see here.
I think the entire thing would have been easier to pull off with shaders, but I thought I could get it to work with regular p5.js, so I didn't bother to teach myself shaders. I should have bothered.
Struggling with a new technology or medium, figuring out how to make it do what I want is not my favorite part of the artistic process (not that I dislike this part). I like most the part where it comes together into something interesting. I'm more comfortable working in spaces where I'm confidant in my abilities. This means that I naturally tend towards already established spaces, away from technological novelty.
Just because the focus is on making something interesting rather than only playing with new forms, doesn't mean it always becomes what Michael Naimark calls last word art. What makes a piece seem interesting might just be its novelty. You never know until time passes whether you were actually making something to last, or if it was only interesting because it was new. Being the first to do something has its only kind of legacy, but only if that thing amounts to something on its own.
I spent a lot of time struggling with creating the central object - the segmenting circle. I wanted it to have certain properties so that when I moved it around, it would naturally segment itself. When I finally managed that to my satisfaction, it was just a question of using the tool I had created in an interesting enough way. I wish I could have figured out how to make the balls actually fragment more than I managed, but overall I like how the basic interaction creates interesting illusions in the eye.
Quantum Fluctuations by Markos Kay is a generative abstract animation created through a simulation of quantum physical interactions when protons collide. It's an intricate visualization of interactions that are usually observed through very indirect means.
I love how the work is clearly digital, comfortable with allowing the viewer to see digital artifacts, but at the same time, the actions going on are so complex and dynamic that the underlying logic seems very real and tangible.
I'm guessing Kay achieves the piece by tying various types of animations to different events in the particle simulation, and then movement of the particles shapes those animations. He clearly cares a lot about the physical phenomena underlying the visual experience, so the generative algorithm is probably determined heavily by the particle simulation.
Kay creates effective complexity by devising extremely diverse animations to occur at different particle events, then the randomness of the simulation acting on the order of the chosen animations creates the complexity.
Novels are effectively complex. The elements of a novel are ordered by various structures of language, but still various. Letters are arranged into words, but the particular words vary widely. Similarly, words are arranged into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, chapters. To someone who doesn't understand the language, a novel seems almost like total randomness, but the rules of spelling, grammar, and narrative introduce an element of order.
The Problem of Uniqueness: I often have a certain reaction to a lot of generative art. When generative art creates infinite variations on something, each individual thing seems to lose its impact. You end up going "cool" then moving on. I feel like the stuff that works for me is when the objects generated are not presented as the main event. The generating system is the unique object with the unique experience.
- The artwork is square.
- The artwork consists of many short black lines, on a white background.
- The lines all have the same length.
- The lines directions vary
- The lines tend vertical
- The lines are in a grid
- The grid is interrupted intermittently by white space
- The interruptions tend to group in larger blobs
- The distances between the centers of the lines is half the length of the lines
- The grid is 56x56
- The lines are thin and black
- The background is white
Reproducing the shape of the work was easy. I got the lines the right length and at the right intervals pretty quickly, and once some random element was introduced to the angles, the picture looked very reminiscent of Molnar's work. figuring out that I should use Gaussian distribution to get the lines pointing mostly vertically but still randomly also took a short amount of time. However, the titular interruptions were very difficult to reproduce and I don't think I quite succeeded. I tried to create the interruptions using just the random function. My method was thus: I had each line look at the lines around it to decide how likely it was to disappear, then I spent a really long time futzing with the various numbers to try to get it to look a little more like Molnar's piece.
The eighth tenet of the Critical Engineering Manifesto describes how a Critical Engineer should draw from the past. They should look at themselves as continuing the same kind of work as artists, philosophers, activists, and inventors of yore, and they should learn from those people. They should learn from the strategies they used, as well as their goals. It's interesting that a seemingly radical movement should be also backwards facing. It sees value in what was done in the past even though the things it is responding to are so specific to our present circumstances.
For instance, a Critical Engineer could look at the ways modernists artists were responding to the introduction of machines into factories during the 19th century for how to respond today to automation in the workplaces of today.
"The Purpose of Water" is a browser game that Stephen Lavelle made in a month. It is one of the many small games that he publishes for free on his website. It's a kind of puzzle game, but an obtuse one, where the real puzzle is figuring out how to interact with the logic of the game. All the pieces are packed with symbolism which doubles as game logic, so the solution to the puzzle is also the story being told. The way all the parts interact is so elegant and complete that the experience lasts after you finish the relatively short amount of time it takes to play. The ending is especially impactful in how it uses the vocabulary that the rest of the game introduces to deliver something genuinely meaningful and surprising.
To create it, he used a free programming library called Haxegon, but presumably created the game logic himself. The Pixel art aesthetic and grid based format seems inspired by old video games, and the content has references to folklore.
The project points to other ways simple game logic can be harnessed for powerful symbolism.
"The Purpose of Water" by Stephen Lavelle