Main

Art Archives

March 7, 2009

I love the Internet

THRU YOU | Kutiman mixes YouTube

So, so good in so many ways. I want more.

March 10, 2008

Coachella

For the past few months, and really accelerating in the last couple of weeks, Dad and I have been working on a new piece, set to debut at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival April 25-27. At its core will be a much improved spherical display with high-res surface complemented by volumetric accents, all in 24-bit color. On-board will be on the order of 10GB of removable flash memory, combining the increased resolution and color depth with a much greater potential show length as well as much easier program changes. All of this will lend itself toward a renewed focus on content, which is a very exciting thing for me as a big step toward the high-definition three-dimensional canvas which I originally envisioned with the ORB.

To make this a reality, I've finally crossed the void into the world of FPGA, and I'm loving it. The ability to quickly create massively parallel hardware in a few lines of code is really powerful. It takes a bit of getting used to, but within a few days I was generating the beginnings of working code in VHDL, largely with the help of Volnei A. Pedroni's Circuit Design with VHDL and the Altera Cyclone III Starter Kit. Now, just under a week into serious development, I feel as though I've got a pretty good handle on things, so the learning curve isn't as steep as it initially seemed, particularly if you've got some crossover experience developing both software and hardware.

As is unfortunately too often the case though, the learning curve seemed steeper when it came to using some of the pre-existing libraries I found. I needed SPI to access the flash memory, and so I started looking for libraries. The Altera board shipped with Quartus II which I'm using for all of my development and is a pretty nice package. Quartus leads you directly to Altera's NIOS soft-core processors with all kinds of great add on modules. These designs are cool because they allow you to set up part of the FPGA to act as a microprocessor meaning you can develop in a typical procedural language like C where appropriate, using the hardware definition languages only where necessary. The demos were easy to walk through and I thought I had everything figured out — until I read about the $2500 per seat licensing fee.

I'd heard of OpenCores and it sounded like a really cool project so I thought I'd check it out. OpenCores is essentially Sourceforge for HDL (hardware definition language) designs, albeit much less trafficked. It appears that there is some great work going on there, but at my level of knowledge, the documentation was just insufficient for my needs. If I really needed a fully-featured CPU running on my chip I'm sure I could have figured it out given enough time, but as it stands it's far from plug and play. And as the countdown timer on coachella.com continually reminds me, the show starts in 45 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 26 seconds. So it's time for action.

As it turned out, I spent a bit more time tweaking the SPI module I had been writing prior to looking at the soft cores, and with just a bit more effort, got it up and running. I then began work on a state machine that controls the SPI module and passes the data out to a set of PWM modules which actually control the LEDs. I'm still working on scaling the code and getting some of the finer control functionality implemented, but all indications are that with a few more days of work the code will be 99% complete. Then its on to PCB design, construction, and content.

In parallel with the electronics, Dad's hard at work building two chassis, one to ship to Manhattan for me to use as a framework to finish the electronic development and another to finish out in time for Coachella. We've got a totally new look this time, a bit more design-influenced and incorporating some cool high-tech materials. I'll get some photos of that part of the process up here as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, it's back to work.

August 17, 2007

Material Connexion

Thanks to everyone who came out tonight to the closing party of the Interactive Youth exhibition at Material Connexion. I'd also like to thank everyone at Material Connexion, who hosted a great event, especially the outstanding Ben Rosenthal, Project Manager for Public Programs.

Also, in from the archives is a link from back in May from the Popular Science How 2.0 Blog about the ORB at Maker Faire.

July 11, 2007

Material Connexion: Interactive Youth

Material Connexion, New York has installed an exhibition entitled Interactive Youth which is an assortment of work from Michael DelGaudio, Anne Hong, Andrew Schneider, and my father and me, including Storyteller, Sasu Bracelets and Ochie's Cube, Solar Bikini, The Alphabet Machine, Mutherboards, City Streets, Northern Lights, and The ORB.

The exhibition was just blogged by the industrial design site Core77, and yesterday I took some photos, a few of which are posted below.



The exhibition will be on display through Aug. 3, 2007. Material Connexion is located at 127 W. 25th St., NYC. Many thanks to Ben Rosenthal @ MC for all of his hard work in making this exhibition a reality.

May 24, 2007

Nervous.

Brent Green (nervousfilms.com) in the midst of an urgent and inspired performance with his group from Pennsylvania, accompanying his beautiful short film, Hadacol Christmas, at Maker Faire 2007. Watch the films here.

May 19, 2007

The ghost of Jimmy Kimmel...

...on the ORB!

Jimmy and his team were great. We shot a short interview which should air on Jimmy Kimmel Live! within the next couple of weeks. Jimmy said he "felt like the Mona Lisa" and that his mug on the ORB was "the most beautiful thing I've ever seen". MAKE!

May 14, 2007

En route.

This comes to you from a quiet hotel lounge on the east side of Denver on our way to the MAKE Magazine Maker Faire, where we will join some 400 makers (including a handful of ITP'ers such as Andrew Schneider, Team Botanicalls, Giana Gonzalez, Tom Igoe, and last but not least, FabInfo instructors Toru Hasegawa and Mark Collins) with ORB and ultraORB in hand and ready to exhibit. A few tens of thousands of attendees are expected of all ages and all walks of life and I'm expecting a fantastic time sharing our work with the curious as well as exploring the rest of the exhibits. I'm also slated to give a talk/demo on Thursday's Maker Day, a day of events held specifically for the exhibitors and other presenters and organizers.

Maker Faire is held at the San Mateo Fairgrounds in San Mateo California and is open to the public on May 19-20. Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students 21 and under, and $5 for children 12 and under ($20/$15/$5 respectively on-site). Hope to see you there.

May 8, 2007

One final ITP all nighter

Just for old times' sake...

May 6, 2007

ultraORB Thesis Presentation

The presentation of the ultraORB at ITP Thesis week is now online and can be streamed here or downloaded here. I'm working now to improve the programming, moving toward displaying controlled geometric objects Tuesday and Wednesday at the ITP Spring Show.

May 3, 2007

Double spin (1/2).

Moving forward — a quick spin with one of the two boards. Now on to connect the brushes to power up the other half. More later...

May 2, 2007

Goodnight

The initial mockup. Time for bed.

May 1, 2007

Lights.

LEDs are soldered and testing is underway. There are a few minor bugs to tweak out with the lighting and then it's on to full assembly and programming. The color balance is a bit askew, but that's an issue for another day. 48 hours to go...

April 30, 2007

12.5%

Here's a view of 1/8th of the final assembly with LEDs in place. 280 LEDs to go.

Resting atop the PCB is the CNC machined aluminum board mount, holding in the foreground one of the four DC-DC stepdown converters from short-circuit.com. The board mount is topped by the three conductor commutator assembly, handmade from readily available materials and a few custom laser cut plexiglas spacers. The commutator mates with a set of brushes to deliver +15VDC, GND, and a timing signal from one of a pair of hall effect sensors mounted on the assembly rotating about the vertical axis (each quadrant of each PCB also has its own hall effect sensors to sense rotation about the horizontal axis).

April 29, 2007

ultraORB Concept Video

For those of you who haven't been following along with the in-person presentations, here's a little clip of video that was shot about a month and a half ago, showing the ultraORB concept in action. This is a demo and concept test with 4 single-color LEDs — the version due to be presented this coming week will have a total of 320 tri-color LEDs under microprocessor control to create a truly three dimensional persistence of vision display.

The final one hundred hours

Just under 100 hours to go until the first display of the ultraORB at my thesis presentation, Thursday, May 3 at 8:40pm. There is still a lot to do, but things are moving forward. 16 microcontrollers are interfacing with 128MB of onboard flash memory and my laptop through 8 dual-channel USB interfaces. Now it's on to wrapping up a few loose ends and then soldering the 320 RGB LEDs. Then on to the first spin. Stay tuned...

April 15, 2007

The view from the solder station

After a couple of days of intense soldering, the first major task is complete. The 960 0201 LEDs are all in place. It's funny, after two days of work, the boards look almost entirely the same to the naked eye. While I can barely focus on the screen to write this (seriously — now I understand what it's like to need glasses, if thankfully temporarily), the upside is that after soldering almost 1k 0201 parts, the 0402 package parts look like bricks and are easier than ever to handle. In any case, I'm here to say that it is very possible to hand solder 0201 parts. Time to go clear the head and get ready for another day of soldering tomorrow. In the meantime, here's the view from the soldering station:

April 12, 2007

Wuhan Direct

The circuit boards are here, having made the trip from the GoldPhoenix fab in Wuhan, China to Manhattan in about 36 hours. The parts are here, a day early in typical DigiKey fashion. Now it's time to start burning some flux. Before I do, though, here are a couple of quick photos from the unpacking process.


The virgin board. I have a pair of these to solder, with at a guess maybe 3-4k SMD pads each. It looks like I won't be seeing much daylight for the next week or two.


If you've ever wondered what $2k in DigiKey parts looks like, wonder no more. Not all that impressive on the surface, eh?

Kurt Vonnegut

On the front page of nytimes.com tonight is the obituary of Kurt Vonnegut, novelist, playwright, poet. It seems that I must be one of the last people on Earth to have not yet read a Vonnegut novel, but I was struck by the dark and somehow inspirational beauty of this final passage of his poem Requiem.

From Requiem, A Man Without a Country:

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
perhaps
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
'It is done."
People did not like it here.

April 8, 2007

Forward Progress

Finally there is some positive progress to report on the latest ORB. The circuit boards have been designed and ordered (thanks, as usual, to Shane @ GoldPhoenix) and the CNC milled aluminum circuit board supports are completed and in hand. Many thanks to David Gotter (bio) and Rob Klaus of D&R Machine for their excellent work and patience in helping me through my first design for CNC fabrication. Check out David's other project, Further OPTIONS developing "innovative vehicle entry systems for wheelchair-bound individuals". D&R offers extremely capable and affordable machining services and is open for long-distance business via Internet and mail order. Contact them for your next project.

I'm also very excited to say that this piece has become a three-generation project. In addition to my collaborator and father, Ron Sears, my grandfather Jim McCoy is contributing his masterful woodworking and finishing skills to this project. Everything is in line for a beautiful piece.

This week, my biggest test thus far will begin: a massive soldering undertaking centering around 320 surface mount RGB LEDs, and a matching 960 resistors in 0201 packages. That's 0.024" x 0.012" for those of you keeping score at home. In addition, the design utilizes sixteen 80-pin PIC microcontrollers and a slew of other circuitry. If I can still focus my eyes well enough to see the audience at thesis week, I'll call it a victory. Starting later this week, when the parts and boards arrive, I'll be posting photos and possibly video of the assembly process right here on this blog.

For now though, here's a peek at one of the pair of aluminum board mounts fabricated at D&R Machine. There's much, much more to come, culminating in an initial exhibition at the ITP Thesis Week and Spring Show, on May 3 and May 8-9, respectively.

January 30, 2007

Building the Cage

Here are some photos from early January as my father and I built the display guard for The Orb.

January 22, 2007

Orb @ ITP

The Orb will be on display at ITP for the remainder of the Spring semester. Here are a few photos and a video of it in its new home.

Video (Quicktime, 1280x720, 98MB, 1:00) - Link

December 26, 2006

The Orb Makes the Virtual Rounds

Since the warm reception at the ITP Winter Show The Orb has been getting a good amount of attention around the blogosphere. Here are some of the mentions of which I'm aware (in rough order of appearance):

keeyool.com
MAKE Magazine
Hack A Day
notcot
Core77
Gizmodo
TodayNow
Ize.hu (can anyone translate?)
An Unreasonable Man

It's also been YouTubed (thanks to MaximusNYC):

December 17, 2006

Sneak Preview

With 7 hours and change to spare, the Orb is ready for showtime...

December 13, 2006

The Brain

Position sensors are active and the PICs are timing — we have control. The fully interrupt-driven PIC C18 code is not yet displaying bitmaps, but simple algorithmically generated patterns are displaying easily at no less than 260 pixels per revolution (in the bottom pair of images with the blue and green grid, each vertical line corresponds to 10 angular steps). The position sensors for each side are slightly misaligned, which is causing a convergence problem in the interlacing, but that will be a quick fix by simply moving the hall effect sensor on one side or the other. On a brighter note, the simple firmware is doing a relatively good job of adjusting for a wide range of operating speeds. The display looks best at the full rated motor speed of around 1600 RPM, but the wiring needs more securing before it can run continuously at that speed.

Up next is creating code to save and read bitmaps (and animation) to and from the flash memory for full control. In the meantime, here are some photos of tonight's work:






December 12, 2006

Spinning (with the governor on)

The wiring is mostly in control, and with a speed control on the drive motor keeping the revs reduced, everything appears relatively stable. A little more checking, cleaning, and tweaking and hopefully we'll be at full speed soon. Then it's on to position sensing and beyond the test patterns.




100% (static)

The LED wiring is complete — no spinning until they are tied down tomorrow morning.

December 11, 2006

The Orb (working title) Glows

Steady progress on the Orb (still looking for an official title — Orbital is the current favorite). Here's progress from installation of all four logic boards along with the pair of power filtration boards, through 25% illuminated. This is all just with simple test patterns, no real programming yet.

Stay tuned...

December 10, 2006

The Orb Proceeds

Here are some photos from the last few days of development on the 3D display:


Bending of the laser cut plexiglas strips into the rings that hold the LEDs around the custom form, also laser cut from MDF





Mounting the plexiglas ring on the frame



One of the first tests with the plexiglas ring installed. Runs perfectly and looks incredible even with no LEDs





The pair of power filtration boards are installed, along with a pair of incomplete logic boards for physical testing





Fine pitch TSSOP deadbug work. Unfortunately, soldering the leadless CASON package took some practice, and in the meantime everyone ran out of stock. So the choice came to either shrink the memory capacity (and the corresponding animation length) or to handwire a TSSOP in its place. Clearly the latter was the choice. Yes, there is a TSSOP-28 Atmel DataFlash hiding under the left side of that pile of wire.

December 9, 2006

City Streets, Northern Lights Installed at NYU's Kimmel Center

On Thursday, we installed our light sculpture City Streets, Northern Lights on the second floor of NYU's Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. Many thanks to Pamela Bolen, the Executive Director of the Kimmel Center for all of her help in organizing the placement and also to the fine staff at Kimmel for their help in its execution.

The location on the second floor provides at once an intimate environment for enjoying the piece from the student study lounges and good sightlines for viewing from the entrance lobby as well as from outside the building from Washington Square Park as well as Laguardia Pl.

City Streets, Northern Lights is on loan to the Kimmel Center for an undetermined period of time.

November 18, 2006

Orb: First glimpses

I'm back in St. Louis (Jersevyille actually) and just got to see the frame for the Orb for the first time about an hour ago. It looks fantastic. Here are a couple of photos. I can't wait to start putting the pieces together. The red and amber streaks are just a pair of LEDs rotating on the frame in 3D space. 64 tri-colors addressing somewhere between 16k and 32k points in space should be pretty mindblowing.

P1000312sm.jpg

P1000311sm.jpg

November 12, 2006

OrbPCB

The PCBs for the 3D spherical display are in, and here's a sneak preview of the beginning stages of assembly:

As I get farther into the assembly process (the entire system will use four identical copies of this board) I will attempt to get some action photos detailing my surface mount soldering process. This is my first time soldering a .5mm pitch QFP package (the PIC18LF8722) and I was pleased to find that it wasn't bad at all. The only remaining question mark then is the 8CASON package of the 64Mbit Atmel flash memory (shown at left upside-down next to its final home). It fits an SOIC-8 footprint, but with no width to spare, and it is a leadless package, so there is no pad or lead for me to solder with my iron. I'm optimistic about soldering it with ITP's rumored hot air station, so hopefully tomorrow you will be seeing photos of at least one fully completed board and one smiling student, and maybe a hot-air soldering tutorial from a rookie's perspective.

Otherwise, all is proceeding well. Here's a preview shot of the fantastic frame and support mechanism that my father is currently crafting for the project. This photo is a few days old, and the piece is coming along great. We should be starting to put all the pieces together within the next few weeks. Stay tuned...

Update:

I should also mention that I am trying Kester 331 Water Clean flux and the matching solder for the first time and it is incredible. At the first impression at least, soldering is just as easy as with the standard 44 flux/solder that I have been using for years, but the flux residue comes off the boards with a hot water rinse almost instantly. It's far easier to clean 331 with hot water than it is to clean 44 with acetone and alcohol, and obviously much more appropriate to do so in my apartment. I highly recommend it. Of course it is still leaded solder, so don't forget to wash your hands.

October 29, 2006

Suspension

Last week for my workshop in industrial design, our assignment was to create a puzzle — essentially anything that involved interlocking pieces that were created using NYU's laser cutting service. I decided to explore structure by designing and building a suspension bridge made from KEM playing cards, which are regular, professional-grade playing cards, made of a very flexible yet durable cellulose acetate plastic. I was very happy with the result, shown below. The design easily holds loads like model cars and is a good depiction of the basic principles behind the design and engineering of the structure of suspension bridges.

Suspension bridge made of playing cards.

Next up: a cardboard chair. The experience of designing and building the bridge should definitely be a big help as the problem is much the same, of obtaining structural strength from very flexible material, although I have plans to use a completely different type of structure to obtain the necessary strength and appearance. More to come...

October 4, 2006

Back to the Archives, pt. 1

This is an image I created last year in my first semester @ ITP. It started with a discussion with a friend around the question: If you could go back in time and remove one person from history, who would change things more than anyone else? He said Isaac Newton, which is a pretty difficult choice to argue against. While creating this image, however, I decided to pay tribute to one of the more unsung heroes of modern technology, the recently passed Jack Kilby, front and center holding a few examples of the early products of his work.

Kilby, who received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from my alma mater, the University of Illinois, invented the concept and first example of the integrated circuit, that magical idea of forming many electrical devices in one block of substrate that has led to almost 50 years of unimaginable innovation. (Jack St. Clair Kilby Bio from Texas Instruments)



Circles

features:
Marie Curie

Albert Einstein

Robert Goddard

Jack Kilby

Isaac Newton

August 26, 2006

City Streets, Northern Lights

img5.jpg
We just launched a new website for my father and his artwork at ArtMagnitude.com. Our work was very well received during exhibition at ITP's Spring Show and Summer Gallery and we are now seeking opportunities for sale or further exhibition of the piece. For more information, contact ron@artmagnitude.com.

April 11, 2006

Northern Lights Demo Applet

For Living Art and Nature of Code, I am working on a simulation of the Northern Lights with Anne Hong for an art piece (introduced in this post) by my father, Ron Sears. I have mocked up software using Java and the Processing libraries to start experimenting with algorithms to control the light. The applet is based upon a simulation of 32 fixed color high-output LEDs arranged on 4 PCBs that will be mounted behind a large plexiglass lens inside a frosted streetlight globe (simulated with a gaussian blur in the applet), and uses a combination of trig functions with varying relative phase to approximate the dancing effect of the Northern Lights.
The code has been developed with portability to PIC C in mind, using lookups into a 1024 point quarter-wave 8-bit rectified sine table instead of real-time trig computation in order to save processor time with the intention that the simulation can run along with interleaved 32 channel PWM control on a single PIC18F4520 running at 40MHz.

View the applet.

April 1, 2006

Google Image Writer

Spells out a phrase using the most relevant images on the web (according to Google Images). You might be amused or you might learn a little something about the culture of the web.
Try it here or
View previous queries
Digg it.

February 22, 2006

Flight Pattern Visualization

Beautiful visualization of flight activity over the United States by Aaron Koblin at UCLA.

February 7, 2006

Finite State Machine

Pattern Generation
with Anne Hong
Double Helix based on two previous states, implemented in PIC with 5x5 LED Matrix. (simulation)

January 30, 2006

Simulating the Auroras - UCalgary Research

This work from the University of Calgary outlines a scientific approach for simulating the visuals of the Aurora Borealis. It is too computationally intense to run on PIC hardware, but the procedure can probably be simplified somewhat or else possibly it can run on an embedded PC system that talks to a PIC which controls the LED drivers. In any case the site, and particularly this Technical Report, is a good starting point and source of info about the simulation.

Simulated Aurora
Simultated images of Aurora Borealis

Attraction

For this week's Nature of Code assignment I am working on an applet called Attraction, a simple simulation of forces of attraction. Each type of object is attracted to objects of the other type and repelled from its own type. By clicking the mouse in the applet, you can reseed the world with a new random population.

I am considering the idea of expanding and adapting the simulation to be a visualization of genetic algorithms in action. Each being's size and attractive force would then become proportional to its fitness ratio so the user can see the evolution taking place, possibly clicking or mousing over to see details of the available solution. The forces would likely be manipulated somewhat to encourage more diversity in the breeding process. More to come...(maybe).

January 25, 2006

Living Art, Week 2

In this session (my first in the class) we discussed the definition of "generative art" and saw examples brought in from other students in the class of what they believed to be generative artists, discussing whether or not we agreed with their assessment. It was a very useful session, as I left with a much broader view of the field, encompassing many projects beyond the traditional fractals, cellular automata, and the like. As such, I decided to forego my presentation of Wolfram and Mandelbrot in favor of a quick demo of my previous work with Chua's oscillator as art form.

For the class, I hope to execute a simulation of the northern lights (Aurora Borealis) for my father's streetlamp art piece.

Auroras
Aurora Borealis

Auroras
Aurora Borealis

Streetlamp
The lamp globe from my father's piece

January 24, 2006

Research a Generative Artist -- Benoit B. Mandelbrot and Stephen Wolfram

For this initial assignment I have chosen a couple of researchers who would potentially be called scientists rather than artists by many people. However, like Leonardo DaVinci or Albert Einstein, I disagree that these two categories are separate and distinct entities, but rather two ways of approaching the same goal, a deeper understanding of life and Nature. Mandelbrot in fact directly addresses this fact in his book, saying that "clearly, competing with artists is not at all a purpose of this essay," but much as in the case of Daniel Rozin, who also has said that he did not set out in the beginning with the goal of being an artist, I think Mandelbrot is an artist of the best kind, an accidental artist.

In reading about development of the generative mathematical theories upon which much of generative art is based upon, the accident seems to be the most important aspect. Dr. Edward Norton Lorenz, one of the founders of chaos theory as we know it, stumbled upon his initial discovery in the field completely by accident, noticing that rounding errors in a punch-card based computer weather simulation were causing drastically different results, countering common rationale of the day. Upon further research he realized that he had discovered the notion of the strange attractor and coined the term butterfly effect, which says that tiny, immeasurable effects in the atmosphere (such as the flap of a butterfly's wings) have the ability to cause huge changes in the future, due to the chaotic nature of the environment.
Many scientists study these systems for practical gain, attempting to predict the weather or the trends of the financial markets, but both Mandelbrot and Wolfram are fascinated, if not obsessed, with the idea of using new types of mathematics to better describe Nature for what seem to be more fundamental, purely scientific and artistic reasons. This science is science for art's sake.

What does this mean for us? Well first of all, that complex and beautiful behavior can be modeled by comparatively simple rules and programs. Wolfram posits that most of traditional mathematics is aimed at shortcutting the computational needs of simulating relatively simple behavior. Need to predict the trajectory of a ball in space, neglecting air resistance. Then you can use simple formulas or perhaps derive your own with some simple integration. As soon as things start to get interesting, however, these techniques break down and other techniques are required, usually involving more brute-force computer simulation. The interesting thing though is that often the mathematical requirements aren't that steep, but what is needed is simply more CPU time to run the same code over and over again.

Take for instance Chua's oscillator. The complex behavior shown in the pictures and in the applet is the result of the simple code below, run over and over on its own result, in a sort of feedback arrangement:

public void iterate() {
lastX = x;
lastY = y;
lastZ = z;
x = lastX + dt * (k * alpha * (lastY - lastX - f()));
y = lastY + dt * (k * lastX - lastY + lastZ);
z = lastZ + dt * (k * (-beta * lastY - gamma * lastZ));
if(x > maxX) {
maxX = x;
}
if(x < maxNegX) {
maxNegX = x;
}
}

public float f() {
float retval = 0f;
retval = (b * x) + (.5f * (a - b) * (abs(x+1) - abs(x-1)));
return retval;
}

How does the behavior arise from simple arithmetic applied over and over again to its own result? I don't know, and to my knowledge, neither does anyone else, save God or whatever name you like to call him who must have invented this whole mess. Or perhaps if you don't believe that, maybe the notion is equivalent to some simple equation running up in the sky. Who knows? As Wolfram puts it:

It seems so easy for nature to produce forms of great beauty. Yet in the past art has mostly just had to be content to imitate such forms. But now, with the discovery that simple programs can capture the essential mechanisms for all sorts of complex behavior in nature, one can imagine just sampling such programs to explore generalizations of the forms we see in nature. Traditional scientific intuition--and early computer art--might lead one to assume that simple programs would always produce pictures to simple and rigid to be of artistic interest. But looking through this book it becomes clear that even a program that may have extremely simple rules will often be able to generate picture that have striking aesthetic qualities--sometimes reminiscent of nature, but often unlike anything ever seen before.

In any case, this New Kind of Science is a fascinating artistic resource that is still mostly untapped, and the next great mistake lies waiting around each corner. Working on these types of problems from any perspective certainly feels more like an exploration of an unknown land than studying or working through mathematical proofs. I am looking forward to experimenting further with these systems both for art and understanding.


A New Kind of Science
, by Stephen Wolfram

    The Fractal Geometry of Nature
    , by Benoit B. Mandelbrot

    January 23, 2006

    Modeling Chaos with Iterative Simulation

    Chua Oscillator Applet (requires the JSyn browser plugin)
    Previous Chua Work (includes video, photos of circuit, etc.)

    Analog Chua Attractor X-Y plot of one of the Chua Attractors, created with analog circuitry

    Perhaps the first tenet of chaos theory is that complex behavior need not arise from a complex source. More specifically, systems of relatively simple differential equations, impossible to solve classically, can be iterated in software or hardware to bring to life their nuanced behavior.

    In my previous work, I used an analog circuit to solve Chua's equations, using the output as audio to act as a synthesizer for music and sound design work. I am currently investigating new interfaces for this system to make it more playable. My first vision is to track both of the users hands in three dimensions and to use each hand-dimension as a control input, allowing six parameters to be controlled simultaneously. In order to simplify the design, I intend to first realize the actual chaotic synthesis system in software, using iterative solutions, because achieving the finely-grained control of circuit parameters under microcontroller control necessary in the analog circuit will be a quite difficult problem in and of itself.

    I am currently experimenting in Java and Processing with software realizations of Chua's equations and also intend to investigate the usability of other similar systems of equations. The screenshot below is from a first generation Processing applet, available here (requires the JSyn browser plugin). Move the mouse around to change parameters and control the system. If it runs out of bounds or stops, click the mouse button to reset it.


    Digital Chua Attractor
    X-Y plot of one of the Chua Attractors, created with Processing (applet) (code)

    December 24, 2005

    About Me

    Me at ITP Winter Show 2005

    Welcome. I have started this site for myself and others as a memoir of my trip through life and, for now, the Interactive Telecommunications Program experience and as a place to log the ideas and thoughts that otherwise seem to slip away. I look forward to comments and criticisms, helping and being helped, and whatever else comes my way. Life is good.


    Contact me.

    View my resume.

    Music

    Where am I?

    Recent Photos

    Powered by
    Movable Type 3.35