Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Type Chance

1. Photoshop

Process: (download .doc with chart to fill in all the values here)
Make note of all information generated.

Using the random word generator:
1. Generate 40 words (use random word type/complexity)
2. Generate 1 sentence

Using number generator. Generate the following numbers for each word
1. A number between 10 and 100. This will be the font size
2. A number between 0 and 3300, then round to the closest 0 or 50th. This will be the horizontal axis location of the word
3. A number between 0 and 2500 (round). This will be the vertical axis of the word
4. Generate 9 numbers between 0 and 255 (format 3 columns). These will be used to create 3 random text colors (within photoshop instructions below)
5. 2 numbers between 1 and 26. Find the corresponding letter within the alphabet for each. Look within the font list and find the font closest to those 2 letters (Ex: mine were 12 (L) & 17 (Q): so I used Lucida Sans)

In Photoshop: Create new 8 1/2 x 11 document. (11 width/ 8.5 height)
⁃ In Preferences: change the following
1. Units: Rulers: Pixels
2. Grid: Gridline every - 200 pixels, Subdivisions - 4
3. Show background grid: View > Show > Grid
⁃ Double click on the color square to open the
Color Picker.
1. Type the first 3 numbers generated into the R,G,B slots.
2. Click on "Add to Swatches": Name swatch "Color 1"
3. Repeat for colors 2 and 3.
4. Swatches will be added to the end of the "swatches" palette

When placing words.
1. even numbers horizontally
2. odd numbers vertically
3. Color numbers based on the color swatches added. Every 3rd number is the same color.
4. Font size based on the number generated between 10 and 100
5. place the word at the location created by the random axis numbers generated. (example: random numbers 2129 & 1383 rounded to 2150 & 1400)
⁃ you should have turned the grid on and ruler will be in pixels, so place
any part of the word at that intersection
6. Place the sentence created in a text box over the top of all the other words.
- Generate a random number between 25 and 75.
- Color the sentence black, with a transparency of the number given.

Shawn's Chance:

I had fun with this so I tried it again. This time the letters I got by chance were WO, so the closest font was "wingdings 3", a series of arrows. It's interesting to see how each time could turn out so incredibly different. This time I added a random background color (R-41, G-141, B-195)


The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, better known as GAFFTA, is a non-profit organization created for the promotion of digital media and digital culture here in San Francisco. The group is made up of artists, designers, composers, programmers, hackers, engineers, and even business and marketing professionals. They seek to blur the so-called ‘Gray Area’ between the arts and emerging technologies. In general, computer arts are not considered a fine art, but more of a craft or skill instead. The Gray Area Foundation has set up an arena to contradict the perceived place of computer arts within the fine arts world.

The four installations created an almost poetic cacophony that I could not just hear, but feel moving through my entire body. The mixture of sounds from all the pieces was almost like heavy rain hitting a tin roof. I immediately felt relaxed and comfortable, wanting to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of cocoa. Most of the pieces were less visually pleasing and emphasized the sound created more than the layout or composition of the work. Though there was inspiration for some pieces, it ultimately didn’t translate unless the viewer knew the context and read the idea about the piece mounted on the wall. It was obvious that he drew inspiration from the physical world. The use of mechanical objects to create art produced an environment for randomness. The sound each piece made could not be defined and precisely tuned by the artist, making the composition that of chance. Ultimately, Zimoun's pieces emphasized a poetry in both the movement and sound created.

The specific work by Zimoun impacted me less than just knowing who GAFFTA is and what they do. I'm personally more interested in GAFFTA for the classes and workshops they provide to bridge the gap between arts and technology. I would really love to take a class on processing or learn more about arduino boards, but they are just a little beyond my price range.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

John Cage and Chance Operations

As a graphic design major, there is a strong emphasis on the design process. The process usually consists of research, study, ideation, proposal, reworking many times, end product. There is very little room for chance study, but John Cage's work is inspiration for figuring out how to work it into the process.

John Cage's chance compositions are generally chance within structure. The outcomes are often strange and uncomfortable, yet the ideas the spring from are interesting. I'm not personally attracted to the content in his work, but the use of chance as a conceptual or visualization process is intriguing. I see chance as more of a means to art without true meaning. John Cage uses the I-Ching as a reference for chance, the end result does not have any relationship to the meaning behind it. All of John Cage's pieces, though they may have names that imply there is a message, are purely abstract.

The Dadaists embraced chance operations. Jean Arp, a founding member of the Dada movement, used chance by dropping torn pieces of paper to create a composition.

Much of the work of Jackson Pollock was created through chance. Though he attempted to control movement of paint, the drips and splatters could never be completely controlled. The paint inspired the composition. What he referred to as "action painting", created chance outcomes based upon the action performed.

Chance operations lend the outcomes more to the abstract side of art. The majority of the outcomes are purely un-represenational emotional images. Within graphic design, meaning is an important player. Chance may be a great tool for overcoming idea blocks, but have very little place in creating a final piece.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Augmented Reality

Recently I've been very interested in augmented reality. The new perceptions it can give you and the information accessible within the context your current environment is pretty neat.

Check out this video. Could you see this as possible within the next 10-20 years in the average household?

Obviously the advertising is a bit excessive, and I don't think the outlining of the arms is necessary. What I really like is the timer with the electric kettle and the virtual keyboard. You could search the tea's in your cabinet, choose what you want, and it would automatically dispense it. In this context, I see augmented reality as somewhat unnecessary, but it gives you insight into other uses. I can easily visualize a pair of regular looking sunglasses that have chips and clear screens where you can still see the world as it is, but an addition of information accessible and visualized through the glasses. Instead of pulling out your smart phone to look up local restaurants, it would pop up through the screen and give you arrows toward the correct direction.

Here is a video of an augmented reality video game. It uses a game board with a smart phone / portable game device and skittles as the markers. When you look at the board through the device a 3d world appears!

Wired & Programmed

The idea of being able to "plug in" to machines and alter human hardwire is not a new one.  It's in science fiction stories, movies, and even comics.  But it's always portrayed as an evil, as something to be afraid of, and something to fight.  I’d like to submit the idea that it's something to be wanted. Something that could change human awareness and psychology. To be able to improve upon and create something more desired has always been something humanity strives for.  We could alter past memories, improve memory, and add new data.  Instead of spending years to learn something, it could be downloaded into our "hard drives" in minutes. With more specific brain mapping, we could connect specific sectors to be accessible. Our entire subconscious could be altered in some way to fit the user’s desires.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"As We May Think"

In reading the Vannevar Bush article, "As We May Think", I was struck by his view on logic in the machine age. The computer was created as a quick means of calculation, replacing mans need for the logical processes needed for solving mathematical equations. Bush states, "Formal logic used to be a keen instrument in the hands of the teacher in his trying of students' souls. It is readily possible to construct a machine which will manipulate premises in accordance with formal logic." He refers to machines as equation solvers and soon to be equation transformers, which by todays standards, they already are. If we continue to rely on technology and machines for logic, man's logical sense and the use of it will begin to diminish.

Making predictions for the future is an incredibly difficult task. Vannevar Bush set high standards, predicting things that have come to be like the credit card and social networking. Thinking ahead 60 years is not in actuality a whole lot of time. If we think back 60 years on major events that have taken place, 1951-2011, most has been machine and technology driven. I think this seems to go in phases.

Technology is currently the main route used to look to the future and to idealize what it could be, but not all the future events will be related to Technology. Man may reach a point where technology is not the most important thing to put all your resources into. A point where many of the things we needed/wanted have been perfected. Obviously, it will continue, but i think in 60 years it will be growing at a much slower pace than it has in the last 60.

In 60 years, I believe scientists and engineers will have perfected the use of robotic or biologically grown organs. These are already used in some cases and experimented with in others. But in all likelihood in 60 years they will be used on a regular basis. Over time this, alone with other medical breakthroughs, would, and have to some extent already, effectively make "survival of the fittest" a moot point. The weak no longer die of illness. The infertile can bear children. The sick and dying will be easily cured and mended.

The other change over the next 60 years that I see as imminent is the use of animals grown for food. According to a report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) titled "Livestock's Long Shadow", the livestock industry is degrading land, contributing to the greenhouse effect, polluting water resources, and destroying biodiversity. They call it "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every scale." Outside of the devastating environmental conditions is the growing of human population and space needed to grow more efficient food sources. According to an Ecologist at Cornell, animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein while yielding animal protein that is only 1.4 times more nutritious for humans than the comparable amount of plant protein. With continued population growth and limited land and resources, the livestock industry will inevitably need change.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tissue Culture

Cool website I found on the "Tissue Culture and Art" project.

This is their Manifesto:
The Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A) was set to explore the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. We are investigating our relationships with the different gradients of life through the construction/growth of a new class of object/being – that of the Semi-Living. These are parts of complex organisms which are sustained alive outside of the body and coerced to grow in predetermined shapes. These evocative objects are a tangible example that brings into question deep rooted perceptions of life and identity, concept of self, and the position of the human in regard to other living beings and the environment. We are interested in the new discourses and new ethics/epistemologies that surround issues of partial life and the contestable future scenarios they are offering us.

Check it out!

History of Computers: Video Commentary

I find it interesting that people were so much more close-minded about technology just 50 years ago. I started thinking about this when the video stated that in the beginning, they only thought that the entire world needed something like 7 computers. There was no need for anything more. It's funny because the science fiction of the era was incredibly creative. The minds of writers were open to the future and what could happen, but the scientists who were staring at this amazing technology, couldn't see anything beyond it's current state.