Archive for July, 2011

Geometry is back

Monday, July 25th, 2011

This weekend, I have been swimming inside a projection of the 120-cell courtesy of Jenn3D. The tetrahedrons stand for vertices. Jenn3D looks great. I downloaded the source code but I couldn’t understand most of it. At least I got it to compile.

Human Interference Project

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

As a continuation of mi recent exploration of Western-European Participatory Rule-based Art Systems, I just contributed with a drawing to the Human Interference Project, a tribute to Jean Tinguely’s Métamatics organized by the Métamatic Research Initiative.

As the project website describes, the drawings should be created based on these rules:

 Use a white A4 sheet and a ballpoint pen.
 Draw a closed shape on the paper.
 Repeat the shape inside the original shape until there is no space left at its centre.
 Repeat the shape outside the original shape until it touches one side of the paper.
 Choose the distance so that you can make at least 50 iterations on the paper.
 Try to repeat each iteration in exactly the same way.
 Sign the drawing in its upper right corner in landscape format.

Note the semantic difference between “based” and “following” when you substitute the former with the latter. It is the difference between suggestion and command, and in this case it gives the participants a lot of room for interpretation. Most participants——myself included——chose to draw around the original shape both inside and outside. But that makes it hard——if not impossible——to keep the further iterations faithful to the original shape. Even though it is easier to draw instances of the same shape if you don’t have to wrap them around the original, only two participants have chosen to do that so far, and it is interesting that both of them used triangles.

I explored a number of options before submitting my choice. I wanted to do something that featured some behavior I believed had some degree of originality, but I also wanted to stay away from formal intricacies or technical conundrums. I decided to look for ambiguity in the idea of “closed shape” not by finding a tricky way to define “closed” but by finding a simple way to make the idea of “interior” relatively unclear. By drawing a line with a few self-intersections I produced enough ambiguity to have a some choices about the interior of the shape. The number eight for example, is it a circle with a twist or is it two circles tangent to each other? From a two dimensional point of view, it can be either one, and the choice you make about which one it is will inform the way you choose to repeat it. I drew the original shape one way, but a minute later I preferred to pretend I drew it differently.

Undef Print

Friday, July 1st, 2011

This afternoon I accidentally found myself submitting tiny snippets of Javascript code to UndefPrint, and watching my submissions transform into prints almost instantly on a live video stream. The video showed a window to the street on the right side, and moving arms holding beer bottles on the left. In the center of the frame, a printer was drawing every submission on an interminable roll of paper. It was 8:30 PM in Berlin when I started looking. It was getting dark, and I stuck around until their clock hit midnight. I think it was 3:00 PM here in California. Ubiquity—to be present in several places at the same time—feels priceless. It even inspired me to write something in this journal for the first time in months ^_^

This exercise in Telematics and participation is just one out of many—Amodal Suspension by Ralfael Lozano-Hemmer and Absolut Quartet by Jeff Lieberman & Dan Paluska immediately come to mind—but it stands out in a particular way that is relevant to some of the work we were doing back in the PLW a few years ago. UndefPrint is only open to participants that can write code. The general public is excluded. At least a bit of knowledge of Javascript and computer science is required to get anything out of UndefPrint. The idea that code is a mode of expression in a way similar to simple speech, doodling, or any other gesture that can be performed in public is not new, but it is an important one, because it puts code next to activities that come naturally to most humans—like speech or hitting on a keyboard to produce sounds—even when coding doesn’t come naturally for anybody. Perhaps in the future we will be able to speak code—and math—the way we can sort out objects in a crowded room. One can only hope.

Here is the code that draws the pattern in the image above, the fifth in my series of submissions:

for (i=0;i<=pWidth();i++){
  for (j=0;j<=pHeight();j++){

And, some fooling around with triangular patterns:

Did I ever mention how much I like simple nested for-loops?