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Long Nights

Long Nights is a generative projection mapped piece inspired by the sky at night. Deep purples, orange hues and stars feature throughout the piece which evolves over four scenes.

Scene Discussion technicalities and conceptualities

In the first scene a changing sky scape is overlaid with bars of noise adapted from analog video fast forward and rewind. Also strings from a series of artist manifestos appear randomly. Ephermeral and hard to read, these fragments combine with the time control to represent the artist's rapid thought process and flighty interests in various topics.

In the second scene a still image is processed, a threshold of brightness is set and the program loops over the pixels. Bright pixels are added to a data structure and then moved away from their original position using a sine wave with offset wanderings made by noise and the fabled generative process of number twiddling. The artwork used is Mati Klarwein's cover art of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. The faces sit in the sky, godlike, and form my celestial objects.

In the third scene the faces explode into shooting stars before slowing, in an attempt to mimic cooling. This is achieved by dramatically increasing the bounds used in scene two. Scene three changes the surface to a purple hue, with gold stars gradually leaving the field of view.

In the fourth scene Mati Klarwein's artwork is used again, along with the bright point finding technique. Now however vertices are drawn between points. This creates strange structures, reminiscent of small life forms or interstellar structures. With more threshold alterations allowing these structures to morph and evolve. A sense of unease is created by the speed and size they reach, which is virtually boundless, they have the potential to grow exponentially and without control.

After Thoughts

This project stretched my coding abilities and gave stern lessons in scope. Although I am content with the individual scenes, the transitions between each one leave my to be desired. I felt an internal tension between my own artistic expression and generative art as a genre and hoped to pose questions as to where the borders of generative art are situated. Scene one for instance uses generative methods such as noise and the placement of the parsed artist statements.

Evidently scene one only represents first order generative methods. Scenes two and three move further into generative art but still lack a neat finish, and transition. Approaching generative art from a gardener perspective (plant seeds and let them grow) may be a powerful way to learn to code, but as a means of expression their is a repetition to the end project, no matter how visually or technically impressive (not to dive into the virtues of simplicity versus the awe of complexity and that corollary paradoxes here).

In an interview with Rhizome Jeffrey Alan Scudder has this to say on stochastism and randomness.

In general, stochastic work has become a bit boring. I think that for a while we all believed that one could generate true novelty, but you can only roll a dice so many times and be surprised at the results. Ten Minute Painting remarks on this: “Like a deck of cards, [this work] is the same no matter how it is shuffled.”

In agreement with this I'm not sad to see the back of generative projects, for one as this will with 99% surity not be the last time I use them, however I do hope to regain more control and wrest more decisions back for myself as an artist and creator in future projects.

Acknowledgements and References

Many thanks to Theo Papatheodorou for his templates and teaching on Workshops in Creative Coding. To the authors of ofBook, especially Michael Hadley for his chapter on generating meshes, Davide Prati for his chapter on lines and brushes and Zach Lieberman for his work on openframeworks and in ofBook.