Multimedia Authoring – Week 02

Class Work

Interestingly, the examples shown to us in the lectures thus far haven’t given me any ideas on how I want my own work to function. I think the open brief entitled “Transforming Mirrors” offers such a wide range of possibilities, however, a lot of what we’ve seen so far feels a bit too literal.

I would love to be able to take the the idea of reflecting the participant and really turn it on its head. Somehow give something back to each person that is more an internal reflection, rather than simply showing them a pixelated version of themselves – no matter how processed that image may be. The obvious question is “how”, but I don’t think that’s one i’m going to be able to answer immediately.

This week we were given a basic Processing sketch that selected an area of a predetermined image and enlarged it to fill the entire window. This uses one of Processing’s inbuilt functions, copy().

One of the great strengths of Processing is the functions that are built into its library, and the ability to add to those functions, simply by downloading additional libraries offered up by many within the Processing community. I am hoping that through this course, I will get a better understanding of how to implement these functions, so I can being using features like the RWMidi library that I struggled with in the past.

Code Research

For the copy() function, I decided to keep this week’s work relatively simple: changing the square window selection into a magnifying glass shape; and reversing the mousePressed if() statement (which I thought was counter-intuitive as it was). Oh, and yes – it’s now a Java version of Where’s Wally? Processing sketch was causing some browser problems, so I’ve removed it for now.

There is some strange behaviour around the extremities of the image when magnifying, but this is relates to the way that the copy() function works: it needs to stretch the magnified image to keep the frame filled with pixels. I’m not a fan of this behaviour, so I wonder how hard it would be to create a new function that would work slightly differently?

I’ve also found out recently about the SVG file format, which is supported by Processing. It seems that standards compliant, vector graphics are actually a reality… amazing! So far, I haven’t been able to learn too much about SVG though: I downloaded Inkscape, but was quickly annoyed by its use of X11, so turned back to the dreaded Adobe behemoth, Illustrator. After tracing the Where’s Wally image and saving it as an SVG file, it resulted in something around 17MB – not really suitable for the web.

However, this is exactly the kind of situation that a scalable graphic could be fantastic: clear at both full size and when magnified. It’s something I’ll definitely be revisiting soon.

Concept Research

Whilst reading David Rockeby‘s fantastic article entitled Transforming Mirrors, several broad thoughts came into my mind with regard to what I would like my final work to represent. These say nothing at all about how the work may function, or even how an audience could interact with it, but as an overall concept, it could help me in getting something to take shape.

Scribbled into my notebook, the thoughts came as follows…

  • How do we represent ourselves through technology?
    • Avatars
    • Our language on chat/forums etc.
    • Games like Second Life
  • Does technology reflect us truthfully?
  • Do we have as much control over this technology as we believe? This can be related to internet, mobile phones, choices on television etc.
  • Does the way we use technology say a lot about us?
  • Are we more open/honest through the relative anonymity of technologies than we are to each other?
  • How do we see ourselves and how do we represent that in the technology we use?

The first time I remember thinking about these concepts was when I visited the Requiem For A Dream website, back when the film was released. It was a fantastically subversive idea that, whilst not being quite as fresh these days, certainly had something to say about our own sense of control.

So, in combining these ideas with my first comment that I don’t want to create a ‘reflection’ as such, I thought it was high time to put this video of a UVA installation on my blog…


United Visual Artists are just about hands down my favourite group of installation artists. Their concepts and execution are impeccable, and I am particularly interested in the way that their technologically-based work can exact such a human response. As you can see in the above video, Volume not only responded to each of the participants, but also combined these responses, forcing each person to consider others that were moving within the work. Beautiful stuff.

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