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Horror Tropes (heading #4)

A 2mn piece mixing figurative and generative art, created as an hommage to old school horror film tropes - from Häxan to Poltergeist (but cuter).

produced by: Zoé Caudron


I have always been fascinated by horror films, especially “vintage” ones. There is just something in the visuals, the composition and the common tropes that defined the genre and gave it that theatrical dramatic side.

I picked references and inspirations from a few classics, such as 1922’s Häxan, 1950’s Tarantula! and 1990’s Arachnophobia, 1902’s Melies film A Trip to the Moon as well as 2000’s Majora’s Mask creepy moon, or 1982’s Poltergeist to name a few.

The classic scenes and moments would be a scenic opening, a dark night during which (witch?) something unnatural is brewing, supernatural events happening unbeknownst to the innocent residents, and things that go bump in the night (including slimy creatures).

I really wanted to pay an homage to these cinematographic moments that made me feel so many emotions, but still wanted to keep my more traditional visual identity. As someone who is still fairly new to coding, and not always fully comfortable, abstract generative pieces are an uncharted territory that I have yet to learn to navigate with confidence. 


For that reason, I did play around with more figurative representations and scenes, coding assets and their animations, but I tried to incorporate enough randomness and generative functions so that each and every scene would be different each time, and surprise me. Looking at a scene over and over and yet always finding out new configurations or aspects (or errors, let’s face it) did bring me a lot of joy and satisfaction that I did not necessarily have working on traditional animation, illustration or 3D films.

I chose to work with two cubes, one hovering over the other, as it reminded me of storyboards or traditional ways to transition between scenes in old-age cinema and animation. The first duo could be the opening sequence, presaging the events to come; the second brings us closer to the action, and the third lets us witness the start of a haunting. 

I didn’t want to structure the piece as a full story, with an ending and a resolution, as I have always preferred the build-up, the tension accumulating until we reach the peak of the film in terms of fear and spooks. The rest of the story will take us to either a happy or bad ending, with or without clear resolution, and sometimes it’s best to leave that part up to each viewer’s imagination.

I do feel like I limited myself when I chose to create a figurative piece, and remained in my comfort zone more than if I had explored a more sensory approach to generative art and creative coding, but sticking to what I know (more) helped me better understand the notions behind the code I was writing, which in return made me a lot more confident about programming as a whole.

That being said, I still ended up patching up a lot of my code to fix some visual incoherences, resulting in a code that is far from being as clean as I would have liked it to be. Messy code becomes really difficult to fix, which is also why I had to tweak and fix and spend too much time making things work from a not-perfect base, instead of starting again from scratch. In hindsight, this would have been not only cleaner, but better for my overall learning and exploration.

I'm still proud of the work I produced, and have identified areas I need to work on to grow as a computational artist. 


I mostly used code based on what we learnt during class, the ofx examples or the ofBook tutorials (that I then tweaked: the Line segment in ofBook helped me create the thunder in my first duo), but also watched a lot of Daniel Shiffman’s videos and used his NoiseWave example/tutorial to generate the hills in my landscapes.