Greetings, Internet! This year has been very, very busy, and so much time has passed since the last post to this blog. Routine writing has never been one of my strong suits, but it’s been hard to keep up the blog these days, especially when there are so many other social channels on the Internet these days that help keep people abreast of what is happening in my life. I use each of them in fits and starts, but Flickr is really the only site that I post on with any real frequency. So… during dry spells on this blog, I highly recommend that you take a peek at my flickr stream, where you are much more likely to turn up news of what I’ve been up to. Sometimes a life is better shared through pictures anyway, don’t you think?
However today I have some blog-worthy news to share — I’ve been working on a new art project called “PhosphorEssence.” It’s a piece of software that lets you interactively explore a beautiful, abstract space of color, audio, geometry, and video feedback that is rendered in high definition by your computer’s graphics card. Simple geometric objects and transformations combine and evolve, creating emergent behaviors that are organic, self-similar, and strangely natural and alluring to the eye. To see what PhosphorEssence looks like, take a look at this demo video:
In PhosphorEssence, some primitive shapes respond to audio input, while others are controlled by a pair of joysticks (each with many knobs, switches, and buttons) that effect color, motion, and the transformations (both linear and non-linear) that are applied in the feedback loop. The joystick controls are intuitive and repeatable, so you can quickly learn how to “fly” through these abstract spaces.
For those of you who are curious, PhosphorEssence is a completely custom-written piece of software in C++ and Python. Considerable inspiration as well as many of the basic transformations and effects were adapted from the Milkdrop visualization plugin for WinAmp. I spent many, many hours staring at this plug-in during my years in college, and was delighted when the source code was released. I pored over the entire thing, and took its particular flavor of feedback as my starting point when I began working on PhosphorEssence. Other influences include the Electric Sheep screen saver and this excellent paper written by Scott Draves and Erik Reckase on their fractal flame rendering algorithms.
I’ve been working on PhosphorEssence since March of this year, and so far it has appeared at Alchemy, Priceless, and Burning Man. During this next month there will be opportunities to go see PhosphorEssence at two public events:
- 10/27 — I’ll be giving an in-depth talk on the software and theory behind video feedback at LearnTech, which will be held at Il Pirata, near Portrero Hill.
- 11/20 — PhosphorEssence will be on display at the Artumnal Gathering: a Black Rock Arts Foundation fundraiser.
This project has been tremendous fun, and there are many enhancements and plans in the pipeline. The next few months should be very interesting, so stay tuned for more updates.