November 24, 2004

Fall '04 Final Projects

The last three weeks of the semester bring with them the final projects of the fall. Here's everything I have to do between now and winter break:

Obviously, a busy time.

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Drawing with Fungus

It's been a while since I've posted any projects from my interactive graphics class. I just finished this small drawing program (page with 108k java applet). I was trying for an organic feel with the spreading ink and it ended up looking like growing mold. Some of my classmates solutions

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November 07, 2004

A Fun Space for Interactive Art

In my Interactive Graphics class taught by digital artist Golan Levin, we naturally look at a lot of interactive and digital art. Imagine my surprise when I took my daughter to the grand opening of the new Pittsburgh Children's Museum yesterday and found it chock-full of interactive art exhibits, including a few we've actually discussed in class, including the very cool Text Rain and soon, the Wooden Mirror.

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October 20, 2004

Force-based Physical Simulations

In Interactive Graphics class, we've started working with particle systems, which are an alternative to time-based or implicit ways of making things move. Basically this is to better simulate organic ways of movement. A good example of this kind of animation can be found at Soda Play.

As such, we're using two natural laws to start governing movement: Newton's Law and Hooke's Law. Newton's Law is Force=Mass*Acceleration or Acceleration = Force/Mass. Hooke's Law deals with elasticity or in Processing terms, springs. Hooke's Law states that the extension of a spring (or other stretchy object) is directly proportional to the force acting on it. Written in math, this is Force = - spring constant * the displacement of the spring from its natural state. Or F=-kx. Combining the two laws gives us the equation Acceleration = -kx/mass. We're also then using dampness aka friction as a force acting against velocity.

If you have no idea what I just said, don't worry; I barely do either. (In addition to skipping Trig, I also didn't take physics in high school. You'd never guess I went to a prestigious private school, would you?) It's enough to know that we've started making animations that move more naturally, bringing physics into the inorganic vacuum that is the digital medium.

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October 14, 2004

Intermorphable Alphabet

I finally finished my intermorphable alphabet (120k java applet) for my interactive graphics class. The project was to come up with a "font" in which any letter can morph into any other letter. Mine is a "block and bubbles" alphabet, composed of bubbles inside blocks that move around. I tried (unsuccessfully) to get the bubbles to break out of the blocks while moving, but I never got it to work right.

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October 04, 2004

Payback's A Bitch

In 1987, my junior year of high school, I was faced with a choice when picking my classes for senior year. I had to take some sort of math class, but I'd barely made it through Algebra II. I could have taken trigonometry my senior year. Instead, I took a class in computers. When, I probably thought to myself, am I really going to use trig? Well, now I know: interactive graphics.

The mysteries of SIN and COS have come back to haunt me as I wade through code, trying to figure out the reams of math and logic when trying to make such programs as an abstract clock, a cute rubber stamp, and our latest assignment, an intermorphable alphabet. If I ever had any myths that I could have been an excellent programmer, this class is quickly dispelling them. Each exercise, and we get several a week, takes me hours of time. My thesis work has definitely taken a hit, time-wise.

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September 15, 2004

The Difference Between Computers and Calculators

In the course description of Golan Levin's Introduction to Interactive Graphics, it says that no programming experience is necessary. Yesterday's class totally disproved that notion. Had I not taken Computing in Design last year, I would have been totally overwhelmed and lost. Homework for this week includes such "simple" Processing exercises as:

Develop a composition which in which one thousand lines respond to the cursor.

The 3 hour class last night was an introduction to programming that covered nearly the same amount of material as the entire semester of Computing in Design did, minus arrays: if/else statements, for statements, basic syntax, and the different types of numbers. When you have a number, you have to specify what type of number it is. Floats have decimals and thus, in animation, help achieve smooth organic movement since your cursor can land on a coordinate like 20.345. Integers have no decimals and are good for counting. Boolean is a number that can only have true or false.

There's two main differences between computers and calculators, according to Golan: iteration and if. The computer can do millions of iterations easily. If statements (if this happens, then do this) are the beginning of a system that responds to humans. It's rudimentary reactivity, but it's a start.

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