Published January 11, 2016
openFrameworks , Visualisation
Here’s a cheeky little thing I made at a Kinect Hackathon that was hosted by Microsoft last year. The aim was to create a surreal and creative experience that resulted in a kaleidoscopic 3D collage. It was supposed to be a “vase generator” but it ended up being so much more…
I’ve looked into the possibility of adapting the app to be able to create zoetrope-like physical sculptures using a colour 3D printer. The cost of commercial printing made this unrealistic though. I think this could be a brilliant storytelling platform so if anyone can help bring this 21st century totem to life please get in touch.
Oh, and just to clarify, I’m not a huge narcissist and I haven’t gone completely bonkers :)
Published December 14, 2015
Arcade , News
There have been a few occasions recently where someone asked me how things were going at Arcade, to which I had to explain that the company was shut down over 18 months ago. Realising that I had not publicly announced this, I thought it best to do so. So here we are.
Arcade was an interdisciplinary design studio set up by myself, Keiichi Matsuda and William Coleman at the start of 2013. We worked on a series of successful projects together before disbanding mid 2014. We still collaborate and discuss projects from time to time but are now all operating separately.
In terms of my current situation, I’m back to working as a self employed visual artist / designer / coder working on a range of commercial and personal projects. I’m mainly programming abstract animation and gesture based interaction, often combining the two to make immersive, creative experiences that connect people with their environments.
Published December 17, 2014
Nova is an experimental study of the visual arts technique slit-scan with a particular focus on emphasising its spacial and temporal properties. The slit-scan image is created using video footage of bioluminescent deep sea creatures, particularly Comb Jellyfish. These creatures acted as a source of inspiration for the form and animation. The resulting structure resembles a surreal organism that is locked into an ever-increasing state of perpetual growth, decay and transformation.
The structure is built and rendered in realtime and programmed in C++ using openFrameworks. For more info on the technical side have a look at this article on Creative Applications.
Music – No Idea by Luk Dab
Headphones are definitely recommended.
Here are a few screenshots taken at various stages of the project.
Last train is a project by Ron Arad that I have been involved in over the last couple of years. The piece was commissioned by the diamond company Steinmetz, and inspired by a story from Arad’s youth where, as he attempted to catch the last train out of Naples, he saw a young man scratching an elaborate image onto a train window with a diamond ring. Arad missed his train but felt that he had been rewarded by seeing this beautiful work. This piece is inspired by that memory. It is an interactive drawing tool that allows participants to create glass etchings using an iPad. The lines sketched on the device are sent to a custom built CMC machine where they are recreated by a mechanical fist adorned with a ring designed by Arad.
Many artists were invited to contribute a sketch to this project – Anthony Gormley, Grayson Perry, David Shrigley, Tim Noble, Sue Webster, Richard Wilson to name just a few. Ai Weiwei also recorded a sketch remotely from China. The resulting Glass etchings are exhibited next to the piece in illuminated glass frames.
My role was in this project was to design and build the software that would record the drawings and send them to the separately contracted machine. There are 2 pieces of software, both built using openFrameworks. The iPad app records drawn lines and continuously sends them wirelessly to the PC software via OSC. The PC app then receives this data, formats it and sends it in a timely fashion to the CMC machine via ofSerial (monitoring the machine’s internal buffer to avoid overloading). Finally the machine perfectly recreates the sketch by moving the cast of Arad’s fist and running the extruded the diamond across the glass.
I take a great deal of satisfaction working on tools that allow people to express themselves in new forms so this was a particularly rewarding project to be a part of. To see so many esteemed artists use the piece to produce new work was a particular highlight.
Published December 27, 2013
Event , installation , Kinect , openFrameworks
I recently travelled to China to install Cell at a new media arts exhibition held at Audi City Beijing. Cell in an installation I made in collaboration with Keiichi Matsuda in 2011 that is a provocation, a comment on the commodification of identity and a vision of how we might present ourselves in the coming years (more here).
It was always our intention to change this installation over time to implement new technologies and adapt to different contexts. In this instance we decided to give the visitors the opportunity to contribute to the piece by submitting the tags. This was achieved via a web app that would present the user with one of twenty questions such as – “Where did you meet your first love?” or “What is something you couldn’t live without?”. The answer is submitted and added to the collection of tags. Whereas the original piece would allow users to adopt the role of fictional characters, the result of this version was a crowd sourced cloud of words and phrases that formed a collective identity over the course of the week long exhibition.
There were several challenges this time round. The display consisted of 2 “PowerWalls” that, when combined, consisted of 8×4 plasma screens – an overall size of 11x3m. We went with a very powerful custom PC (made by Gareth Griffiths of Uberact) as we needed to significantly increase the tag count and split the image over the 2 walls (using a DualHead2Go). We also needed the extra power as there were 5 kinects (all running from separate PCs). This allowed for up to 10 simultaneous users and meant more calculations than usual. Cell is an open source project and the code for the new iteration is available here. The piece requires openFrameworks v0.8.0 and Visual Studio Express 2012.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my app Konstruct (made with Juliet Alliban) was also exhibited at the event. This section was part of the AppArtAwards exhibition and was organised by the Goethe-Institut China and ZKM.
Finally, huge thanks to Audi for holding the exhibition, to ADP Projects for helping to curate the event and acting as producers in Beijing, to Keith Watson for providing some space at Level39 for testing, to Juliet Alliban for helping with the setup and to Gareth Griffiths for building the PC.
Published October 2, 2013
installation , Kinect , openFrameworks
Tags: art, body, installation, interactive, Kinect, openFrameworks, sound, technology, visualisation
Bipolar is an experiment in using the human form as a medium for sound visualisation. It is an audiovisual virtual mirror that warps the participant’s body as they wander through the space. A soundscape designed by Liam Paton is generated from the presence and motion of the participants. The data from this (in addition to sounds from the user and environment) is used to transform the body into a distorted portrait that fluctuates between states of chaos and order.
This piece has evolved from an experiment I made 18 months ago when exploring the possibilities for using the body as a canvas for visualising sound – have a look here for more information on the technology. Since then it has been exhibited at a number of events including Digital Shoreditch, The Wired Popup Store in Regent St, The New Sublime exhibition at Brighton Digital festival and The BIMA awards. There are plans to install it at several more spaces in the coming months.
Bipolar at Wired Popup Store
Bipolar at Digital Shoreditch
In the time since the original experiment, Bipolar has gone through several changes and optimisations. The biggest addition is the interactive sound aspect which was designed by Liam Paton, composer and co-founder of Silent Studios. The idea was to build a dark, abstract soundscape to compliment the visuals and react to motion, location and distance. He built the software using Max/MSP and I was able to communicate with it from my openFrameworks app via OSC.
Visually, I wanted to retain the chaotic nature of the original but with a few refinements and optimisations. The main issue with the original version was the fact that the extrusions appeared to be fairly random. Each spike is achieved by extruding a vertex in the direction of its normal but the normals weren’t very smooth. This was down to the way in which the depth data from the Kinect is presented. In order to get round this I implemented a custom smoothing algorithm that took place on the GPU (the vertex normals were also calculated by making a normal map on the GPU) which allowed me to create a much more pleasing looking super optimised organised chaos.
Another addition was some fake ambient occlusion. The original piece could seem a little flat in places, so this effect was added to create what look like shadows surrounding the spikes. I achieved this by darkening the colour of certain vertices surrounding the extruded vertex. The results should be visible in the image below.
At the moment all of the mesh processing is tightly interweaved into the application. I intend to release an addon in the coming weeks that will include most of this functionality along with some simple hole filling.
Published September 17, 2013
Event , installation , Performance
A sound-responsive laser installation set to The Rite of Spring, performed with the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.
Arcade were commissioned to make a visual accompaniment to Stravinsky’s masterpiece. The project was produced by the Groninger Forum for the Timeshift festival in Holland, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the controversial first performance of The Rite of Spring. Our response was to construct a virtual architecture from laser beams, transforming the music into a dynamic forest of sound and light.
50 lasers were installed in the auditorium, each one connected to an individual instrument. Custom-built electronics allowed them to react the musicians’ performances; the louder the musician played, the brighter the beam. At certain times mirrors would be moved or unveiled to direct the beams to different areas of the auditorium, creating new abstract forms in space to compliment the different movements of the piece.
The resulting walls of light emanating from behind the orchestra and extending through the audience formed a direct spatial visualisation of the music.
Photo by Martin Lambeek
Photo by Martin Lambeek
Photo by Asami Yoshida
Photo by Asami Yoshida
Addressing the orchestra – photo by Gerda Vrugteman
Testing the lasers