Category: 3D


Silicon Speech Shape

November 27th, 2011 — 10:22 pm

By modelling the geometric resonance of speech, visually expressive letterforms emerge.

The advantages of light emitting screens rather than reflective paper are obvious:

all the features of the letterform can modulate as sounded.

Diaphragm, trachea, larynx, tongue, palette, lips:

tubes that resonate to create resonance.

Language landscapes labyrinth lingual.

New letterforms grown from formulas.

Coral reefs, language, compilers, modular organs in bodies, brownian surfaces, broccoli, human brains.

“… virtually all complex systems, regardless of whether they are composed of molecules, neurons, or people, can be meaningfully described as networks.” (Olaf Sporns, Networks of the Brain. pg.29)

Saussure famously described the arbitrariness of the sign: a gap between sign, signified and referent.

That gap is reduced by digital typography.

Occasionally, the gap is erased by digital poetry.

Occasionally, language hits a singularity & dies.

Some celebrate. Some grieve.

Comments Off | 3D, animism, conceptual, generative, thesis

Visual Language (Encyclopedia Pictura)

October 26th, 2011 — 05:18 pm

In my thesis, I state:

“I think visual language evolution is on a trajectory toward becoming a real-world object. The shape of these letterform objects might correspond to embodied structures: visual analogs of mathematics that arise from the acoustic resonance inside our bodies. It can be argued that much of proportional aesthetics (theories of golden mean symettry etc.) arises from embodiment, evolutionary activity over millennia etching patterns in physiognomy.

What I am suggesting is that innate shapes (geometry or topology in Thom’s terms) already exist for letterforms. They implicitly underlie our oral audible language, they are subconscious sculptures intuited from the shape of diaphragm, larynx, mouth, lips and tongue. They have been etched there by speaking. Some shapes are personal, some shapes are cross-cultural. Yet it is these shapes and vibrational presences that are being given birth and dimensional form within 3D animation, ads, and digital poetry.”

Computation provides us with unprecedented tools to implement such a vision. Perhaps the most fundamental agreement with my viewpoint comes from an unusual source: Encyclopedia Pictura are a trio of motion-graphic artists who have made extraordinary music videos for artists such as Bjork and clients like Spore.

Near the bottom of their website menu is a discrete link to a page devoted to visual language: a set of drawings and eventually doodles which outline their vision for an augmented reality application which utilizes morphological text that is relationally appropriate to the sound of the voice of the speakers.

In other words they propose precisely what I have advocated in my thesis and worked towards with works like Human–Mind–Machine. Except they have actually gone farther, providing one-to-one relationships between sounds and candidate shapes. Continue reading »

Comments Off | 3D, animism, augmented, conceptual, kinetic, multimedia

An Image-Essay on Image-Texts

March 31st, 2011 — 12:44 pm


Here.

Comments Off | 3D, conceptual, prehistoric, thesis

2000 – ? : Dreaming Methods

February 13th, 2011 — 09:12 pm

Like the tentacles or root system of a macabre plant, Dreaming Methods (a website developed by programmer-poet Andy Campbell often with primary collaborator/partner videographer Judi Alston) distributes audacious and sensual digital fiction thru multiple media: browsers, apps and pdfs. Its vision is disturbing yet never horrific: conspiracy theories, incest, suicides, rape, dreams, runaways, amnesiacs. Brooding soundscapes. Destabilizing (often impeccable) interactivity. Dreaming Methods provokes a gliding psychotic trance.

Info dribbles thru the stale air of decaying flats, the polluted breezes of derelict rail-lands, infected with casual malice, ripe with stories. Each work sutures vignettes of eerie tranquility with implied violence, trauma scenes. Its like being paralyzed and a bit stoned. There is always a story about someone who might have`done something, but no one is ever seen. No faces appear. Time shatters into melancholic shards. Psychosis is just off-screen.

Words seep out of furniture. Their meanings as fragmentary and ephemeral as dust. Chapter readings often require fulfillment of goals. Readers become players as they are played (sustained and engaged, drawn in and drawn upon). Scale shifts frequently: rooms zoom into details. The edge of a decaying mattress. An old calculator. Text is swimming everywhere. Memories saturate space, as if molecules were tongues. The system is permeated with stories all the way down. Yet even proximity cannot resolve the palpable abiding sense of alienation.

Dreaming Methods is a creepy excursion into the hypnagogic trenches: part waking, part wonder, part abyss. It is also an exercise in sustained stylistic grace and a profound engagement with digital literature. Over a decades`work, Andy Campbell has succeeded in developing a signature that combines sophisticated coding, narrative torque and aesthetic fastidiousness. It has a bit of the glitch of hi-res.net during their donnie darko days before they got totally branded. On Dreaming Methods, the work aims not to sell or to shock but to shelter in homage, lost memories, latent dreams, bits and bandwidth, esoteric audio-visuals and intricate code. Swaying between being lost and feeling loss, it iterates (and exits) loops both computationally and emotionally.

Comments Off | 3D, kinetic, multimedia

1926 Marcel Duchamp – Anemic Cinema

February 5th, 2011 — 02:28 pm

The spinning wheel[1] is fundamental to both hard-drives and to Marcel Duchamp’s 1926 film Anemic Cinema, an early example of animated text. In Anemic Cinema[2] phrases painted in spirals onto a flat disk  rotate at constant speed. The reader reads inward from the edge to the phrase’s end near the spinning centre. This process evokes algorithmic alchemists with circular charts and simultaneously anticipates the mobility and motility of digitally animated text pulled along curved paths and extruded on MTV. In Duchamp’s film the eye slips in or out along a serpentine labyrinth. Vinyl LP grooves existent in phonograph recordings (viewed when drunk) may have been the inspiration. Certainly the vortices of Hitchcock emulators and Brio Gysin’s Dream Machine are descendants. Reader flexibility is necessary: the poetic line is not flat, it is curved and on the move. Semantic impact emerges in spasms as legibility unravels like a snake.

Anemic Cinema is an engine that derives visual energy from mechanical rotation. This echoes the origin of malleable language: the clay potter’s wheel spinning so that fingers dragged from the centre to the edge form patterns. In Anemic Cinema, patterns function as visual punctuation between each of the text segments. They also provide time for the text’s complex puns and aphorisms to be digested.

The over-exposure strobes of the early film-stock date it to contemporary eyes as an antiquarian project; yet, this is a project that for its era must have required the use of technically advanced equipment combined with idiosyncratic vision. In this sense, it is close in practice to digital poets who extend software and work with new media: it leverages the edge of tech. Anemic Cinema places Duchamp[3] at the origin of animated text and visual poetry in high art and forms a useful link between ancient clay glyphs, potter’s wheels and petroglyphs, and current motion graphics and spinning digital media: disk drive, laser disk, CD-ROM, DVD.


[1] The spinning wheel is a motif that travels through technology in ways that connect to the activity of reading: from potter’s wheel, alchemists charts, phonographs, vinyl LPs, disk drives, cd-roms and dvds. Reading migrates from finger to ear to eye to laser.

[2] The title Anemic Cinema foreshadows a central credibility dilemma for visual animated poems. Seemingly lacking in the enriched healthy visual stimulus of imagery, visual poems are the anemic stunted cousins of real poems and real cinema.. Duchamp’s sardonic title diagnosed this credibility gap early.

[3] The work is signed by a pseudonym of Duchamp: Rrose Selavy

Comments Off | 3D, conceptual, kinetic, prehistoric

2008: Karsten Schmidt: programmable typography

December 22nd, 2010 — 04:12 pm

Post-Spectacular studio, directed by Karsten Schmidt, in 2008 developed a dimensional typography Type & Form experiment that explores boundaries between animation, code, concrete poetry and sculpture. By synthesizing formal elements with technical skill, Schmidt establishes a benchmark for digital typography.

The Type & Form font was grown generatively using a reaction-diffusion model. Pixels migrate into and populate rough letterform masks (islands that have sprouted in the diffusion fluid). 2D slices of pixels adhering to the substrate boundaries of this algorithmic process combine to form a 3D volume. The methodology borrows techniques from MRI data scanning. The final result is output from a 3D printer. This process is like an incunabula[3] of the digital age.

But is that all it is? Is it only typography? If so, then why consider it in the context of digital poetry? As noted elsewhere, Gomringer prophetically worried that concrete poetry might someday degrade into “…an empty entertainment for the typographer”[1]. Type & Form might seem at first glance to be vulnerable to such a critique. Lacking in direct references to either human experience or organic nature, it can be interpreted as a superficial design exercise. Superfluous technology applied without concern for deeper resonance. Yet, an alternative interpretation is equally valid.

Type & Form is a computational and poetic use of materials that explores language as mediated entity. It is a static fossil for now, but future descendants will be kinetic. Borrowing algorithms of fluid diffusion that mimic the flow of blood or estuaries to develop its form (mathematics as meaning generation), superimposing complex layers (ambiguity and/or the classic striated onion of literary studies), extruding data into brittle stone (inverse Frankenstein algorithms where process petrifies), Type & Form contains within its developmental process all the crucial vectors of a digital (and literary) post-post-modernity. Linear flat paper poems become architectural nodes; concrete poetry gets an extrusion upgrade.

Karsten Schmidt of Post-Spectacular Studio. Type & Form cover sculpture for Print magazine (2008)

Obviously, this project entailed a firm grasp of code and computational process. In an interview at OFF 2009, Karsten outlined his view on the divide between artists and technicians: “…you have all those creatives who don’t do any technical stuff, which I think is the totally wrong approach, because how can you do creative stuff in the field without the technical expertise or the craft skills?”[2]. His view has resonance for digital poet-artists (who faced by the inexorable learning curve mountain range) outsource their tech tasks. A continuity argument: medieval scribes typically knew how to use inscription tools, concrete poets coveted typewriters, digital poets develop intimate proximal relations with digital tools.

Letterform newborn. Semantic sensuality.


[1] Solt, Mary Ellen. 1969. Concrete Poetry; a World View. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
[2] Quotation from vimeo video posted on blog at http://postspectacular.com/
[3] Incunabula is a fancy word, it sounds like the bile of a tree frog, or the foam that erupts from the mouth of hardrives, but instead refers to the first books created with the printing press in Europe (before 1501).

Comments Off | 3D, generative