Multimedia Authoring – Week 03

Class Work

We moved on to dealing with the live input of a webcam this week. It’s a relatively small step within the entire spectrum of Processing functions, but it’s something that instantly offers up plenty of new possibilities when planning an interactive work.

Adding live visuals to a work is one of the clearest ways to let a participant know they are impacting on a work. The visual feedback is clear and powerful, and with the ability of Processing to store video and images as variables (hopefully soon I’ll have them sitting pretty in arrays too), there is massive potential for manipulation of input data.

So this week we were given an example sketch under the title of SlitSwipe, based on the SlitScan example by Golan Levin & Ben Fry.

Code Research

For myself, this was a tough week for getting work done. Having one of your best mates getting married can really get in the way of university studies. It’s definitely shown me that at this stage at least, coding takes a lot of time to get right. A good chunk of my study this week was spent scratching my head and trying to understand why something was not working as expected. It’s becoming a bit of a love/hate relationship now with code. The hate of not getting something to work is obvious, but when a project comes together right… the joy!

I’ve also really dug into both the Learning Processing book by Daniel Shiffman and the Processing Reference. I highly recommend Learning Processing to anyone coming to Processing without any coding experience. I bought Processing: A Programmers Handbook last year when trying to teach myself and it really discouraged me. Not because it’s not a valuable resource, but purely because I wasn’t at a level yet to fully grasp it. I think i’m now ready to take it on though!

So here is where I got to this week (I have no idea how this will work across web browsers, platforms etc – it uses your default camera input and is totally untested on anything but Firefox 3 on OS X) This sketch has been doing some terrible things to browsers, so I’ve removed it permanently. You’re not really missing anything

…not anywhere near as far as I would have liked, but this was one of those weeks that I just had to stop and let it be. Walking away is one of the toughest things I find with design. It’s not often that you’re ever truly content that your work is ‘finished’, particularly when you haven’t spent as much time working on it as you would have liked. If you download my sketch from this week, there is a text file included which outlines my incomplete process.

Concept Research

This video is from the Processing Exhibition page. It’s one I checked out a while ago, and my attempts at creating a type of ‘echo’ with this weeks Code Research led me to revisit it.

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It’s a beautiful combination of performance, interactivity and sound. The echos of body movement are done in a quite subtle way, yet are still effective. I’d love to know how much is pre-programmed for this performance (thus relying on rehearsing the timing of the movements) and what is truly interactive, so allowing the performers to really experiment and do something unique for each show.

The word ‘echo’ has also reminded me of the first United Visual Artists’ video I ever saw, called – appropriately enough – Echo. It’s what got me interested in the combination of spacial art and performance a couple of years back, and still sends chills down my spine today.

I’m also reading an interesting account of the history of new media in art (not surprisingly titled New Media in Art) which touches on a Dan Graham performance which may have been one of the earliest steps toward the ‘mirror image’ that is ubiquitous in much of video and interactive installation work today:

In Performance/Audience/Mirror (1975), Graham positioned himself in a performance space, his back to a mirror, facing an audience. He discussed his audience’s movements and what they might signify and then proceeded to face the mirror and discuss his and his audience’s movements as ‘filtered’ through the mirror. Issues of subjectivity/objectivity, the observer and the observed, audience and performer were engaged as varying and very subjective relationships. (Rush, Michael, New Media in Art p 63. London 2005)

The themes I started to focus on last week are clearly something that new media artists have been interested in for some time. I think this suggests that they are on a certain level ‘universal themes’ and therefore more than worthwhile approaching from what I hope can be a fresh angle.

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