More selected projects

Tarot Distortions

The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed. A new love shows themselves. What future do the cards hold for you?

produced by: Raymond Vermeulen


When the opportunity for love presents itself, we have a choice to make. We can either show a distorted image of who we are,  eventually pushing them away. But by risking it all and showing them our true selves, we leave the lies behind us, propelling us forward to form ever more intimate connection.

Concept and background research

I wanted to explore opportunity and love in this piece. To wit, I drew on the Tarot as a visual shorthand that people might be familiar with to tell a story.

What was supposed to happen:

Tarot cards get shuffled, and offer up a typical four-card spread, showing the past, present, opportunity and outcome. The first spread would have been Magician, Emperor, Lovers, Tower. You have always treated forming connections with people as a game to be solved, a game to be won, you manipulate people through your lies. Approaching love this way will end in ruin.

Transition to a boy and a girl drawn on opposite sides of the shape, slowly moving further away from eachother. In-between them are various distortions of them both, colliding, seeming to push them away.

Another tarot card shuffle, another four-card spread. This time, it's Emperor, Death, Lovers, The World. Abandoning your prior ways, through great effort you change. You will no longer game and lie, you will show yourself to people. In so doing, you connect to all.

Back to the boy and girl, who are now drawn closer than the first instance. Instead of distortions between them, there's rainbow-colored distortions behind them--propelling them forward, ever closer, until they're close enough to touch.

Finally, we go back to the Tarot cards one last time. The fool card is shown 4 times, to indicate that we are now talking about the viewer. And we shuffle, and we draw a truly random four card spread. What does YOUR future hold?


I loaded images and played around with positioning and randomisation. This is all that I managed to do. I struggled immensely with getting the basic functionality up and running, after which I spent days trying to sort out my randomizer and failing. Ultimately, all that's in this version of the project are some random Tarot cards, spinning forever.

The way I was planning to do the card sections was by simply drawing a card on screen, having an array with the filenames, and selecting from a random array value to show a random card. This worked, technically, but I couldn't actually figure out how to not do this at a breakneck pace, or how to store the selected card value elsewhere so I could move the card around. After shuffling, I'd just draw the specific Tarot cards needed directly.

The first boy/girl section would have been an ofImage, again, where I'd draw a plain version of the image once and then move it. Then I'd use ofPixels and a bunch of lerping to introduce color distortions, and screw around with the positioning to make the false self images.

The second boy/girl section worked similarly, with different positions, but instead of image distortions I'd be making hearts in a push/pop matrix using circle and triangle primitives.

Then for the final Tarot sequence I'd show the Fool card 4 times, to indicate that the story is about you now. After which, shuffling, and a truly random 4 card spread.

Future development

It could actually work. We could also explore more different Tarot scenarios, or play around with how the cards are presented--using them as more than just a framing device.

Self evaluation

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The entry barrier for this project was too high for me--having to switch OS and development platforms,, getting the basic software to work, etc., all took a considerable amount of time and effort. This was before I even got to the project itself. I then spent a long time trying to get proper randomisation going in a very convoluted manner. I never quite got there, and think I had to redo stuff in a more object-oriented manner which I don't quite understand. Ultimately I was so burned out by trying to get the basics to work (and still missed stuff) that I could not even figure out the basic programming logic for what I wanted to do. In particular, I ran into a lot of scope issues, because for once I wasn't just chucking everything into the Draw function...

Going back, it would have been nice if I hadn't fallen behind in the coursework after reading week--I could figure all this stuff out in theory if it's the only thing I'm doing, but juggling it with other commitments was very hard, since the tech takes a lot out of me.

I am not a coder.


Tarot art by Enetirnel