Richard Baily and Spore

“you can create great things despite ANY existing circumstances”, Richard Baily, 1953-2006

[Quick update note: I just noticed today (August 15th 07) that ImageSavant (Baily’s gallery website) is back online]

Last night I stayed in the lab until 2:23 am, working on OpenGL stuff with Kyle. Vertex programs, shaders, and all this other things I can’t quite grasp yet. But something about the black limbo traditionally used in an empty NSopenGL view and the digital color nature of my primitive OpenGL scenes somehow started reminding me of a few related Computer Graphics references I have collected from the web over the years. I don’t remember when I first read about Computer Graphics pioneer Richard Baily and Spore, perhaps searching the web for renderings of attractors, but I remember very well the awe I felt when I first browsed through the galleries in his website ImageSavant (I know, it’s down). I think I remember the Spore source code available for download there, but I’m not sure. When I clicked on my bookmark this morning to pay a visit, I found a dead link, and after 20 more seconds of google search, I realized Baily died a little more than 1 year ago, following after his mentor Jules Engel (1915-2003), who died 4 years ago. A generous man that offered full resolution snapshots and movies of his work in his website, he was regarded by some as one of the few that could remain an artist true to themselves, and still conduct a fruitful relationship with the Hollywood media machine.

One of those people I was looking forward to meet one day.

The Center for Visual Music Payed him a tribute here, and this is a link to an article the futurist filmmaker Rene Daalder wrote about him.

These are some pictures of his work with Spore. You should try to imagine them in motion, as if you were a solar system scale creature, surfing through the star clouds in spacetime. A good example of his work in motion is his depiction of the synaptic planet Solaris, featured in the 2002 unfortunate remake of Andrei Tarkovsky’s (1932-1986) science fiction classic from 1972, based on the book written in 1961 by recently deceased polish cult writer Stanislav Lem (1921-2006).

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