Monday, December 21, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Old notes

I attended the Siggraph conference in New Orleans in August. Siggraph is the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques. The conference has been at the heart of the computer graphics industry since 1967, so I figured it was a good place to go to figure out if I should be a computer graphics professional. (I shouldn't.) The long-and-short of it is that the art galleries presented by MIT's Leonardo society jazzed me much more than any of the technical demos. The galleries set-up by the Leonardo society were entitled, "BioLogic : A natural history of digital life". The title suggests cellular automata, such as Conway's Game of Life. The pieces in the exhibit did not deal with this directly, but rather dealt with bio-mimicry stylistically. There were several stand-out pieces:
  • A piece entitled "One" by Yoon Chung Han imagines a drop of ink as a microcosm/planetoid. Here's a video:

One (2009) from Yoon Chung Han on Vimeo.

  • Philip Beesley's "Hylozoic Soil" depicts an environment of micro-machines much like a coral reef:

  • The best piece in a gallery of generative art was a lantern by this guy:

  • Here's a conference Uncle Bruce did on generative art. (Link.)

I didn't see the coolest technical demo until I was home from the conference. I spotted this on a Blender news site. (Link.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009


Conceptual art can solve any problem, and Jonathan Keats saves the world from economic disaster. . .

“Economic equilibrium is upset by our unbalanced pursuit of material wealth,” explains Mr. Keats. “My plan is to offset materialism with modern science, by exploiting the economic potential of antimatter, which is the physical opposite of anything made with atoms, from luxury condos to private jets.”

Backed by private Swiss funding, his scheme will be implemented beginning on November 12, 2009, when the First Bank of Antimatter opens in San Francisco’s Monadnock Building, the location of Modernism Gallery.

The bank will serve as a hub for antimatter transactions worldwide, eventually financing the building of antimatter infrastructure and providing the public with a full range of investment opportunities. “But our first order of business will be printing money,” says Mr. Keats. “Cash is the foundation of any economy, and an anti-economy is no exception.”

via beyond the beyond

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another rendering

This was the third and final submission for this model. This was my first project using a renderer that does global illumination, and was complicated by the fact that it had to be presentation board size, at print resolution. I simplified the process by breaking up the image into light groups. I used Blender for modeling, the GIMP for compositing and texture synthesis, and Inkscape for a few patterns. It was rendered with Yafaray.

A high resolution version and some process images are in this Picasa album.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brutal Legend Gameplay

Edit: Here's a short vid about the game's art-direction.


Such a parade of people makes me wonder aloud about Bush voters. Perhaps it's true that they were made up of the top five-percent of income and the bottom fifty-percent of intelligence. What does that mean for my deeply held egalitarian beliefs? Why is it safe to assume that this man does not support health care reform?
Link. (NSFW)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jason Scott on Mario 64 & Life

I apologize for my absence. I was up against a deadline through August and early September. I have a few posts queued up, but first something I saw last night that amused me greatly. I've been enjoying computer historian Jason Scott's BBS documentary because of the fascinating cross-section of the population it shows. Here he is giving a impassioned talk about a game that I am certainly nostalgic about. Link, via the Internet Archive.

Monday, July 27, 2009

TRON legacy

oh yeah, they made it alright.

EDIT: Cleaned that up a bit for you. - Mr. Alex

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The First World War

This is the most comprehensive and insightful documentary about World War I I've ever been exposed to, and it's left me in a emotional and conceptual storm. I watched it while I was also listening to an unabridged audio book of version of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History. I can't help but think that in the confluence of these two works there are a number of deadly important lessons for all of us; I just can't put to words what those lessons are.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Always Morning in America, Except When it's Not...

"The US economy is now dying a slow and painful death because it had become based on activities that had nothing to do with producing real wealth. Instead, it became dependent on rackets, that is, behavior geared to getting something for nothing. These rackets are often summarized under the acronym FIRE (for finance, insurance and real estate), a system set up to strip-mine profits from the wish commonly labeled "the American Dream" -- itself largely a product of televised advertising and propaganda. The end product of all that was the doomed economy of suburban sprawl, an infrastructure for daily life with no future in a world defined by fossil fuel scarcity. The unraveling of debt at every level now is directly related to the mis-investments made in that way of life..."


This is all the things that I coveted as a kid in one awkward promotional event. To be an art star like Andy Warhol, to have an AMIGA with those sweet graphics, and to be sitting next to Debbie Harry so I could stare longingly at her.

via boingboing

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cheering for Cynicism . . . The Critics

Organized by Daniel Birnbaum, this 53rd version of the venerable Biennale is tidy, disciplined, cautious and unremarkable. If any show can be said to reflect a larger state of affairs in art now, this one suggests a somewhat dull, deflated contemporary art world, professionalized to a fault, in search of a fresh consensus. It has prompted the predictable cooing from wishful insiders, burbling vaguely about newfound introspection and gravity . . .

. . . But the Biennale is meant to be a survey of new art, and while conscientious young artists now dutifully seem to raise all the right questions about urbanism, polyglot society and political activism, their answers look domesticated and already familiar. They look like other art-school-trained art, you might say, which is exactly what Pape and Matta-Clark and the Gutai group didn’t want their work to look like, never mind that the art market ultimately found a way to make a buck off what they did, as it does nearly everything, eventually.

For some reason, I continue to be fascinated by a current of extreme cynicism in the writing by art critics since the financial bubble that was forming around art collecting in New York and London nominally popped.

There is a companion article about Art Basel from that week, it follows the same tone but is much more absurd in details. I will have to find the hyperlink so that you can read the quote about all that high falutin arch-consumerist art from those long past "Bush Years."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

1/Quarterly Scavenger Hunt Results

Howdy from Chicago!

If there's anyone out there nostalgic for chicago, I shot a bunch of photos around town of old and new sites. oh yeah and since I love games I had to dominate the runnings for this scavenger hunt brought to you by a deceased gallery anyone remember 1/Quarterly Gallery?

Monday, June 22, 2009

A rendering

This is two solid weekends of work and was done for a historical architecture award submission that was due today. It was done entirely in Blender. I plan on completing it and taking it to Luxrender.

Cross posted on Blender Artists.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Alan Kay on User Interface

I've been starting lots of projects and finishing none of them. A newer pursuit of mine is computer programming. My language of choice is Python. Firstly, because it is very simple and consistent. And secondly, because it is applicable to most situations I would want to write a program for: shell scripting, web development, CAD automation, and most interestingly, the umpteen different ways to use Python in Blender (logic in the game engine, PyDrivers, PyNodes...).

I found a course in UC Berkley's webcasts series that can start to fill in the giant holes in my knowledge about writing programs. Anyway, the lecture that I am linking to in this post is not very technical at all. It is a talk by Alan Kay about human-computer-interaction. Alan Kay was a major player at Xerox PARC, which is considered the birthplace of the graphical-user-interface. (bio.) He shows a a demo of what must have been one of the first CAD systems, Sketchpad. It could do things that AutoCAD cannot do now without extensive scripting. The ideas that formed his thinking about user interface were visual thinking, multi-modal learning, and giving people access to the building blocks inside the computer.

The talk is in two parts. I don't think I can link to them directly. They are the September 12th and 15th classes labeled "User Interface (Alan Kay)" on the class' website. (link.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Shameful Starcraft Confession...

I... I watch professional Korean Starcraft matches on YouTube :-( (Viewing in HQ is recommend so you can really follow what's going on).

For a taste of the BlipVert speed competitors function at during play, see this.

Next stop: Insanity!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Battlefield HEROES

its like team fortress, but the maps are bigger. and there's vehicles. well, you'll see. and its FREE!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

since we're in the mode of reviewing favorite things...

"Go Go smear the poison Ivy" by Múm, was one of the best albums last year. if you are feeling good and you like music that makes you feel good about the fact your feeling good to the point where you are so happy that your feeling good you want to listen to music, then this is a good band to listen to.

i can't recommend a particular song, but "marmalade fires" is excellent, and also "moon pulls" breaks my heart. but maybe just cause i'm an old sentimental sap.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Burst Transmission

Art Fair Weekend - March 6th

I took off work, on Friday, March the 6th, and drove up to New York to see as much art as I could in one day. I made it to the Met for a Pierre Bonnard exhibit, then to the Armory Show, then to Pulse, and finally to the Strand Bookstore.
At the Met: The Bonnard show was fantastic. He is my favorite colorist. I was really excited to get my hands on the catalog, so I could own some good reproductions of the paintings. Alas, the catalog's reproductions were terrible. The colors were way off. I don't know if this has to do with the gamut of the CMYK inks, or a misguided designer was "correcting" the color levels. Fortunately, there were catalogs on display beside the paintings themselves, so a comparison could be made.
I hadn't really seen Bonnard's drawings before; They are small and notational in nature. As explained by the text-on-the-wall, the drawings were his primary source material while painting, as a cue to his memory. This means that his paintings are a reconstruction of certain idealized memories. At some point, I think everyone has wished they could be transported to a happier time of which they held an image in their mind. So, yes, Bonnard's art is sentimental, but it is also great.
At the Armory Show: There were not as many people as last year, but just as much art to see. I got the fair at 2pm. Having woken up at 4:15am and already spent three-and-a-half hours in the Met, I was feeling a little ragged. Once I got in among the booths I was completely energized. My favorite thing I saw was a work by Ikeda Manabu (pictured below). He's a great example of an artist who fills their brain until the pressure creates a jewel. His work reminds me of David Macaulay and Geoff Darrow. Link to Ikeda Manabu's Tokyo gallery.

At Pulse: Pulse had a more relaxed, less commercial atmosphere. It also had more daring and youthful work.
At the Strand: I expected the Strand to be larger than Powell's in Portland, but it was less than one-half the size. This was made up for by their fantastic art book section. I picked up a Stuart Davis monograph and headed to the basement to find their computer graphics section. In the back corner of a twisting dead-end aisle I found a great book from 1967 about cross-pollination of ideas between science and art. (One chapter is entitled "The Computer Apprentice".) I haven't had a chance to read it, yet, but if the rest of the book is like the first two chapters, it will be quite the source of inspiration. The book is "The Science of Art: The Cybernetics of Creative Communication" by Robert E. Mueller.

Free stuff

The Swirlies are very generously offering their back-catalog as free MP3 downloads. I recommend their 1996 album, "They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days...", it is an uncannily beautiful rock record that compares favorably to other Boston acts like The Pixies and Mission of Burma. Link. (Broken link repaired 05-14-09 --ed.)

The Internet Archive has "A Boy and His Dog" posted for download. I've mentioned it before. It is slow moving and low budget, but is saved from this by Harlan Ellison's writing. As a post-apocalyptic piece, it has more in common with Samuel Beckett than with Mad Max. It has a great "Repo Man" style, "What about our relationship" ending that you have to see. Link.

Passage is an 8-bit poem by Jason Rohrer. Link.

I love me a scribble-machine, and this is a nice one.
Link to Golan Levin's other pieces.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Watchmen rawks!

i gotta say that the original comic/graphic novel was indeed a classic and they did cut some stuff out for the movie. So that it could be reduced to a mere 3 hours (if you include the trailers, and i do.) EVEN SO! the watchmen movie was enjoyable to watch on the big screen. to see the characters come to life. especially the anti-heroes Rorschach and "The Comedian." Dark stuff Mr.Moore!

Monday, March 02, 2009


A speech about WEB 2.0 presenting a metaphor for complete breakdown and transition of global systems.
Pass the duct tape and hold that turtle still.
We've got a web built on top of a collapsed economy. THAT's the black hole at the center of the solar system now. There's gonna be a Transition Web. Your economic system collapses: Eastern Europe, Russia, the Transition Economy, that bracing experience is for everybody now. Except it's not Communism transitioning toward capitalism. It's the whole world into transition toward something we don't even have proper words for.
By Bruce Sterling

Breaking News

Artist annoys peers with melodramatic/cutesy commentary and photographs of little noses.

Link to Friderika Faye Benedict.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Visual Metaphor

This is somewhat trifling but...New Year's Eve, waiting for my party to return from drink-retrieval, I played a very poor game of Millipede. Which I used to rock on NES emulator, but I had the excuse of playing impaired. Waiting for my plane to leave the gate several days later, I noticed that the heavy raindrops on the window would fall, gobble the ones below them, and leave a trail of new, smaller drops. Which randomized the pattern, but maintained an equilibrium density. I recalled that between levels in Millipede, there would be a rain of enemies that would do precisely the same thing, but leave trails of mushrooms. I thought for a few minutes about how this made the game seem poetic in an odd way.
The photo isn't mine. I entered 'rain on airplane window' into Flickr for the sake of illustration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year's in New Orleans

I traveled to New Orleans for New Year's with friends and to see what I could of their brand new Prospect.1 biennial. The work of the 81 artists associated with the biennial was dispersed across the city, and co-mingled with the work of local artists. One large ex-furniture store, now partially a police precinct, had one gallery of a biennial artist and three or four of local artists. Another location was an expansive, abandoned school that had been converted into artist's studios. It was a lot of fun to see into the heart of a very active art scene without having to do any networking.

The biennial locations also lead into the heart of the devastation in the Ninth Ward. Along the river were clustered a half-dozen new homes paid for by Brad Pitt's "Make It Right" foundation. You can see them here.

The most memorable piece was in the deepest destruction of the Ninth Ward. The vacuum felt as one journeyed through the abandoned tracts of housing was echoed by an assemblage sculpture by Nari Ward in a lonely gutted church (above). It was made up of salvaged exercise equipment and mirrors . The water mark in the church was very high, just about a foot under the ridge of the ceiling; note the sagging ceiling fan.

Other high-points were:

(Above, top-left) LED fireworks and massage chairs by Cai Guo-Qiang, who orchestrated the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. The massage chairs were lined up as an invitation to contemplate the piece. Matisse famously said that art should be " a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair".

(Above, top-right) Mardi Gras Indian costumes by Victor Harris of Fi-Yi-Yi at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). These costumes were part of an African-American tradition begun when Mardi Gras celebrations were segregated, and are a cultural precedent of Africa Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation.

(Above, bottom-left) A nine-to-one ratio see-saw by Pedro Reyes at the Contemporary Art Center. Though I liked its shape a lot, it was slightly rickety.

(Above, bottom-right) An installation by Stephen Rhodes that we dubbed 'The Hall of Killer Robotic Presidents', which was entertaining in its inclusion of the animatronic presidents of Disneyland.

Harry Shearer interviewed the founder and curator of Prospect New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. The mp3 file for the January 4th show, and a link to the Le Show podcast.

NOMA had a work by a baroque painter I am fond of, Alessandro Magnasco. His work is a bridge between Titian, El Greco, Goya and even Kirchner, and is imaginative, spacious and stylized. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a handful of his paintings that I often visit. (Miscellaneous paintings by Magnasco above.)

Scott drove us an hour out of the city to a sculpture garden made by the visionary artist Kenny Hill. Hill was a brick layer by trade, and between 1990 and the millennium he lived alone and made a garden of figures, columns, and a lighthouse out of grout, rebar, brick and wire mesh. Scott related that Hill was in fact squatting, and left when the municipality pressured him to start paying taxes on the land. He has not been heard from since. The figures had the poignancy of Romanesque sculpture. The garden reminded me of projects like Ferdinand Cheval's Ideal Palace, the Watts Towers, and Opus 40. (Here are some Flickr hits for Kenny Hill's garden.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

BERLIN — A hole has appeared in the center of town here.

"It’s ultimately a monument to civic caution and historical ambivalence. The Schloss represents Berlin today, a capital of pipe dreams, and broke; fashionable but provincial, megalomaniacal yet insecure, a Petri dish for youth culture, stodgy and fearful, steeped in history but brand new. The city sprawls across lively neighborhoods riven by expanses of nowhere."