Art from code - Generator.x
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Tag: flash

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It’s rare that something gets blogged on Generator.x simply because of its wow factor. There are plenty of design blogs out there to take care of that end of things. Even more rarely are “cool web sites” reported here It’s quite rare these days to see anything that’s really all that surprising in any case.

Despite all this, something just clicked when the Flash-based portfolio site of Japanese art director Kashiwa Sato came up while blogsurfing. Simultaneously minimal and gorgeously over-the-top, it has to be one of the sexiest interfaces out in a long time. The elements used might be nothing new, but the combination is unusually potent.

The front page of the site displays a large grid of projects, each listed with a title and short description. But what steals your gaze is the animated color bars over each project, combining to turn the page into a constantly moving RGB space. Each color bar contains a selection of colors from the project in question, brilliantly giving a unique visual identification. The resulting look is not just gorgeous and visually complex, it also instantly communicates a sense of Sato’s design aesthetics.

[Via Yukio Andoh]


Jared Tarbell: HappyPlace

Most people reading this blog are probably familiar with the work of Jared Tarbell, but he has never been properly blogged here. So stumbling over his HappyPlace piece provided me with a pleasant opportunity.

Jared is perhaps best known for his playful Flash work, which he has published on his site since the very early days. These consist mostly of generative sketches involving recursion, motion studies or technical experiments, which he generously provides the source code for. But these days he focuses more on his generative artwork, which finds a place on, his “Gallery of Computation” and “generative artifacts”.

HappyPlace is a good example of his more recent pieces. It uses the underlying structure of a network of “friends” and “non-friends”, simple agents acting on local rules. But through a baroque rendering style Jared has developed called Sand Stroke, these simple interactions become the raw material for delightfully intricate drawings. This strategy is not unlike that of C.E.B. Reas, who uses agent interaction as the basis of popular works like his Process series. Jared helpfully provides applets showing the agents moving both with and without the Sand Stroke rendering to make it easier to understand their behavior.

The style of drawing used in HappyPlace has taken Jared’s work in a direction which is visually quite different from his earlier Flash work. Where Flash tends to produce smoothly rendered vector objects, he now explores grittily detailed surfaces with a painterly interest. Interestingly, this change coincides with his move to using Processing, which allows pixel rendering in the very high resolutions needed to produce print-ready pieces.

For more Tarbell goodness, see some of these examples:


This is an experiment to see if posting videos on the blog would be feasible (or even desirable). The video format of choice is Flash Video, since it’s light-weight, most users have the necessary plugins and the plugin doesn’t stop the browser for several seconds while initializing. We’re using the WP-FLV WordPress plugin by Roel Meurders to embed the FLVs. WP-FLV in turn uses Jeroen Wijering’s Flash Video Player.

Please give feedback on how this is working for you. It shouldn’t slow down the normal blog use, since it doesn’t load the video until you ask it to. Without further ado, here is the clip.

Video: Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) live at AV.06. (~ 6 MB)

Takeshi Murata: SHIFT cover, issue 085

Takeshi Murata: SHIFT cover, issue 085 (1 left), Melter 02 (2 right)

The veteran Japanese webmag SHIFT has impeccable taste in cover designs. Every issue has a commissioned piece by a designer or artist, who is interviewed for the magazine. Typically, they focus on digital media or motion graphics, so the covers are usually web-friendly animations or interactive pieces.

While searching for images by Takeshi Murata, I just stumbled over this gem: SHIFT cover, issue 085. It’s from December 2003, and it’s lovely. Murata made the cover in connection with his animation Melter 02 being selected for the .MOV festival in Tokyo, using the same (non-programmed) technique.

Based in LA, Murata creates “experimental and psychedelic animations” by his own description, somewhere between the disciplines of art and design. This kind of hybrid approach is typical of the LA motion graphics crowd, with some spectacular results. Designers like Geoff McFetridge, Logan, Geoff Kaplan etc. experiment with personal work and use it to develop eclectic styles. (Which then gets them hired by big companies, so it’s not all love and flowers…) is a little thin on info, so be sure to read the SHIFT interview with Takeshi Murata and watch the Melter 02 clip.


Coder community: CodeTree

Rich Hauck: Flying X

Rich Hauck: Flying X

Rich Hauck has just launched CodeTree, a new and ambitious project that, if successful, could become a gathering point for coders, artists and designers. CodeTree is a community-based depository where users upload pieces created in Flash and Processing for others to look at. If they like the work, they can download the source code and learn from it. Taking some cues from Flickr and, CodeTree lets registered users tag works as well as rate them.

From the about page:

Can digital artists learn new techniques, be exposed to new coding structures, and better express themselves by working in tandem or in a group?

CodeTree is an attempt to create a worthwhile dialogue between new media artists of different skill levels and backgrounds. The project’s objective is to offer a social network that facilitates learning and artistic expression—a place where coders can dissect, share, and expand upon one another’s code.

CodeTree is still in Beta, read the announcement blog entry for more details. To be successful, it will probably need more ways to include information about the works. The focus as it stands is on visual sketches only, for which it should do a far better job than the user-submitted section of exhibition page. But code that solves particular problems will be more useful in the long run, whether they are simple hacks or actual libraries. It’ll be interesting to see how CodeTree develops.

Rich Hauck is a student at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU. Link via REAS on the forums.


Some interesting posts are popping up in response to the Adobe takeover:

It seems that regardless of previous product loyalties, the developer/designer community is worried about the future of the software platforms and media formats that put food on their table.

Macromedia == Adobe

Company formerly known as Macromedia

They’ve done it. Adobe has completed the acquisiton of Macromedia. Here’s what they say:

Adobe has always pushed the boundaries of the digital universe. Now, by integrating Macromedia’s creative energy with Adobe’s innovation and leadership, we’re taking another giant step forward. The new Adobe is well positioned to lead the industry and revolutionize how the world engages with information and ideas.

This is one marriage where it could have paid off for the audience to clear their throats and "speak now or forever hold their peace".

Some creatives might see this acquisition as the best thing since fried chicken. It unites competing software, file formats and workflows, thereby easing the load of users. Others (yours truly included) might be a bit more apprehensive. What’s to stop Adobe from becoming another Microsoft, using unfair licensing agreements and proprietary standards to kill competition? Adobe has shown in the past that they don’t really “get” the Web as a medium. Will their takeover of Macromedia stifle online design development?

Ok, so PDF, PostScript and SWF are all open formats, but can we expect things to stay that way? What will happen to SVG now that Adobe controls both SVG and SWF no longer has any real reason to champion it? (Not that it was such a big success to begin with.)

Sure, Adobe could teach Macromedia a thing or two about software development. Flash / Director and ActionScript / Lingo are both slightly eccentric development environments / programming languages, and could do with some cleaning up (to be fair, Director more so than Flash). Flash integration with After Effects would prove a real boost to both motion designers and artists who use Flash and want to make DVD content. But won’t the ultimate result be a vice grip on content developers, with practically all competition taken out of the market?

The “new” Adobe is already offering three software bundles that seem to suffer from a massive identity crisis. The packaging design is way off, and the product motto seems to be “Flash 8 with everything”. The future’s so bright…

Some analysis:

Name: Project

Dr.Woohoo: Color Analytics

With Flash 8, Flash is increasingly becoming a tool for serious visualization. Doug Marttila (lead designer at Visual i|o) has started a blog called The Forest and the Trees to evangelize this combo. As he says: “Data visualization can make the world a better place. Really.”

Marttila’s blog is only a little over a month old and a bit thin on content yet, but he does have some wonderful links. One of them is a color palette visualization called Color Analytics, using the new pixel capabilities of Flash 8. It allows the user to browse through a large database of paintings and see statistical analysis of the colors used in the paintings. It even provides links to other paintings with similar palettes. The piece is an experiment from Dr.Woohoo Brothers, a New Mexico interactive “boutique”.

See The Forest and the Trees for more Flash visualization links. (via dataisnature)


Interesting article over on OSFlash: How to structure and set up a Flash project without using the Flash IDE. Since OSFlash was last blogged here the Open Source Flash community has matured quite a bit, with literally dozens of new initiatives springing up.


Storynest: Keats

dynTypo is a collection of work and research by various designers, programmers and artists interested in the possibilities of dynamic and interactive typography in the multimedia arts scene. Much of this work manifests itself as digital artwork, or online interactive experiences. Hence the creation of this research web site. At this stage, the possibilities of dynamic and/or interactive typography are still being explored by academic, creative and commercial sectors, but there seems to be a mutual understanding that this new form of creativity plays an important role in exploring new areas of work and art.”

A list of interesting projects with links to their authors’ websites for further exploration.