Continuing my study of utilising simulation models and object oriented programming through the Nature of Code, I worked with a simple particle system here using an array. The emitter corresponds to mouse placement or tapping touch screen. The scanning line incorporates angst that has been underlying most of these sketches, contrasting the smooth trajectories of the particle pixels; never really clearing the slate and always leaving some traces behind.
I started listening to vaporwave as I work after reading Roisin Kiberd’s The Disconnect: A Personal Journal Through the Internet. The sonic textures are evocative of an earlier era of digital culture, which I find matches the graphic elements of this sketch. Unlike a screensaver, however, traces of colors and forms are left in the semi-transparent backdrop. The swarm placement and colours of the rectangles change in relation to mouse position (or where a touchscreen is tapped), though I extended the swarm so that it is not clustered around the point, but retains a sense of individual autonomy. These graphics are sublimations of anxieties and feelings of (dis)connection over the past year, as the pandemic exasperates qualities of social isolation. The code for the rectangles is adapted from Generative Design and the swarm is a modification of the oscillating bodies code used in Ripple Snapper from the Nature of Code.
Here I worked with the combined waves exercise from the Nature of Code, though modified to abstract the simulated quality. I am interested in the tensions that these designs interact and what I hope is a curiosity through the interactions. There is an odd quality to working and presenting regularly and in small doses, as this has been. There is a sense of exposure and vulnerability as the processes are put out in the open. There is always a kind of demystification, as I make sure to reference my sources and point explicitly to the influences and code that is appropriated. Such techniques are common in creative coding, hence the open availability of the code in the first place, though it points to my connection to the community of makers that I draw from, removing illusions of originality. The intention is not to create new code — that hype of innovation — but instead to work with it as material. Since my medium is digital and web based, I have created my own little residency on the web. Seems a bit early net.art, but I find there is a quality of nostalgia to these sketches.
I am continuing to work with oscillations and I continue with variations up recurrent themes, colours and forms. I was referencing both Generative Design and the Nature of Code when putting together this piece. The sketch has striking differences when it comes to being viewed on different screen sizes, as the size of the circles, the number, and quality of wave motion varies in relation to size. I am also exploring ways to present interactivity that is slightly obscured, but not too opaque. The length and vertical placement of the wave of circles varies depending on mouse location/touching screen. Part of the process of engagement comes to be about figuring out how it works and what the medium is capable. Processing involves an open sharing of source code, which I engage with using exploratory methods (see Nick Montfort, Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities). That does not mean I do not write my own code, but it does mean that I am working with it as a material while learning from the experiences of others. Some fragments have been appropriated, but are combined and modified through a pastiche of bits and bytes. As a result of this open sharing framework is that there is an aesthetic quality to Processing graphics. My process of making regularly is also about developing a style.
I am continuing with variations on themes, working through combinations of geometric forms with different types of movement. In particular, this sketch involves oscillation, where the lines parallel the oscillating movements of the circles. There is fine tuning that goes into the rhythm of the sketches, including manipulating frame rates, which is the means of keeping track of time in processing. I find these sketches tend to induce anxiety, with the challenge balancing it with a sense of calm. These exercises are also begetting me to think about interaction, or to draw attention to interaction through futility.
I also want to comment on the title. Thus far, I have created my own titles, but this time I kept one of the ones auto generated by the p5.js online editor as it captures what I am trying to convey well. I may stick to this more often, though at some stage I hope to create my own artwork title generator.
I’m continuing my fascination with the grid as a form, but also ordering principle. The grid has a particular aesthetic; a sense of order and structure – – qualities of constraint that act as a starting point. Quivering lines at the edges push the boundaries; I nudge them while continuing to work along pre determined parameters. It is not really random, but pseudo random – – the selection of a number within a particular range. I’m working with ways of manipulating the grid and of changing perspective while also working with transformative properties. The result is developing an interaction where the rules are not so clear cut and the ways of engagement are broader. Here I am also playing with principles of user experience. The interface is not invisible. I want people to think about how it is used and what may be required of them. Design is not problem solving but a means of posing questions.
Good user experience design involves clear and easy to understand cause and effect. This seemingly transparent relationship between cause and effect, however, is illusionary. Computers do not just do what humans want them to do — they are machines that function based on the languages of computer code. In this sketch, I am trying to create a user experience that is not as straight forward as standard UX design. The movements are awkward and perhaps even frustrating. The lines rotate in relation to the position of the mouse, but the result is not a simple matter of pinpointing the placement of the lines. It takes time to become familiar with the gestures of the lines and to learn how to work with them.
For this sketch, I was experimenting with moiré effects in addition to continuing play with the grid form. Emphasis was placed on the visual composition, contrasting qualities of motion, shape and colour. There are no interactive aspects to this sketch.
I am continuing work with the grid, though wanted to create something visually different from the anxious grid. I experimented with placements of geometric forms. I ended up working with lines and squares, creating a curved shape to contrast the sharp angles of the linear flickers. Continuing with experiments in interactivity, I decided to keep one point of the curved shape as anchored, making it a sort of flag in the pixel flare up.