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computational media

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Our unit on pixels was short and sweet, but it made me excited about all the possibilities for algorithmically manipulating images in Processing at scales both small (pixels) and large (batches of images scraped for the internet). I have a lot of ideas for my ICM final, some more developed than others, that all revolve around the appropriation and poetic reframing of images from the internet, specifically Google images.

Idea 1: Instant Image Search

Create an interactive image-searching experience that translates auto-complete to the visual realm. As a user types in search terms, the page populates with a collage of floating images that change as they continue to type.

idea1_instantimg1

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Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.49.57 AM

This week, I did my first data visualization using data from Wikileaks. I use the term “visualization” quite loosely, since I spent the majority of time on my assignment trying to deal with the data itself (finding the data, cleaning it, loading it, passing it into functions I wrote) rather than thinking of a clear and beautiful way to visualize it. Baby steps.

Surprisingly, Wikileaks doesn’t have an API or any centralized place where they distribute their data. After some digging around on Github (at Dan Shiffman’s suggestion), and on the Guardian’s website, I found a number of different usable Wikileaks data sets. I chose to go with a pretty straightforward CSV file that lists the number of Wikileaks cables by location (this data, and some other related sets, can be found here).

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I came to ITP with the intention of learning to manipulating images using algorithms (among many other things), so naturally I was very excited — and overwhelmed — by our week on pixels in ICM.

For my assignment, I initially wanted to make an algorithmic collage as a way to begin exploring new dimensions for my project visually similar imgs, but soon realized I had bitten off more than I could chew for a week’s homework.

Instead, I created an algorithm that I fondly call “image melter,” which manipulates images primarily through Processing’s copy() function and makes them look like they’re melting. You can control the speed and area of the melting using the mouse, though there are some tweaks I could implement in the code to make this better (what if you could un-melt the image? what if you could melt the image in other directions besides left to right? top to bottom? radially?) In this iteration, I used images from one of my favorite tumblrs.

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Our week on pixels in ICM has me thinking a lot about the possibilities of algorithmic collage. Local Distance, a project by Frederic Gmeiner, Torsten Posselt & Benjamin Maus uses algorithms to fragment architectural photographs (based on vanishing point and other visual patterns) and create beautiful composites from them.

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After a couple weeks of baby steps with I-Ching hexagrams in Processing, my sketch is finally where I want it to be.

I started out by writing functions to generate the two types of lines and hard-coding values to form hexagrams (symbols of 6 lines that are either unbroken or broken). The next week I rewrote the program in a more object-oriented way, with a Hexagram class that had different data and functionality associated with it — line weight, size, color, broken vs. unbroken, as well as movement on an X or Y axis. This week, I incorporated arrays into my code.

My goal from the outset was to write an algorithm that would generate an I-Ching hexagram by randomly picking a configuration of either broken or unbroken lines. For this past week’s homework on arrays, I tried two different approaches to making hexagrams (with Dan Shiffman’s generous help).

The version I’m most proud of is one that randomly generates the hexagram configurations and changes when you click the mouse. To do this, I made an array called randomizer[ ] that stores a list of 6 values which determine if the line is broken or unbroken.

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Some practice with for loops, or: Thursday night in the matrix. My full code is below.

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For this week’s assignment, I decided to build on my I-Ching hexagrams from last week and write them in a more object-oriented way (as opposed to using lots of hard-coded numbers). They’re definitely not perfect and there are a few kinks I haven’t yet worked out, but I was able to work through some difficulties and get better at using variables in my functions to make things relative to each other (aka make the width of the hexagram and the spacing relative to the height of the lines, etc.)

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Ever since I studied the work of John Cage and learned about his chance-based approach to composition, I’ve been totally taken with the I-Ching. The I-Ching, also called the Book of Changes, is an ancient divination text from China that consists of 64 different symbols called hexagrams. Artists such as Cage, and many of his contemporaries — Fluxus artists and other experimental musicians — used the I-Ching as a chance operation to compose their pieces.

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Over the past week, we’ve covered a *lot* of new material  — boolean variables, if / else statements, while loops, for loops, nested loops. My head is spinning a little and by a little I mean a lot.

For our assignment, we were put into pairs and asked to work together in some way, whether that was pair programming or consulting each other on our homework. My partner Sehwan and I decided that we would work individually for most of the week, and then trade code at the end to help each other through problems and give feedback.

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