Forces @ Arts House Melbourne 10th Anniversary

I was invited to provide some visuals for Forces‘ gig at the Arts House 10th Anniversary event – an evening of arts and music performances at the North Melbourne Town Hall.

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I had been wanting to use Turing patterns for a while (a mechanism of particular chemical reactions that are behind many patterns in nature – the most familar ones being stripes and spots on animals). I had seen Jonathan McCabe’s fantastic Bone Music series a while back and thought the grainy organic forms that came from multiscale turing patterns were a good fit (albeit his work was much slower and evolving, and we needed something fast & realtime).

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Luckily Felix Woitzel, a talented realtime graphics engineer and general tinkerer, had created a muti-scale realtime WebGL Turing shader with the foundations I needed. He was kind enough to let me hack on it for the event and edit it to fit the vision I had in mind – adding grain, upping the simulation resolution and messing with some of the algorithm to get more organic forms. I also added some features needed to keep things interesting over  a live performance – presets, fades, zoom, a way to insert camera images into the simulation, and other controls.

The end result was projected onto a dome-shaped screen and augmented with LED lightbars. The projections provided texture with the lightbars providing color and intensity when needed. We requested no stage lighting for the set, so the backlighting effect was very distinct and included moments of total darkness.

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Its easy to get lost in generative work, and abrogate creative responsibility to the outputs that fall out of the system. Getting good results is about curating the output and the system (down to the level of altering its working with goals in mind), while still allowing for happenstance and surprise . In this case once the aesthetic was close to the original intention, the night itself was when the experimentation and noodling took place, exploring the extremes of the system and allowing for mistakes.

You can see more of Felix’s excellent webGL work by following the links here http://cake23.de/1c2/ and photos of the rest of the night here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1002801916417059.1073741876.332546913442566&type=3

 

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