art with code



Ultraviolet Fairies

"Can you make them dance?", Pierre asked. Innocent question, but this was a cloud of half a million particles. Dance? If I could make the thing run in the first place it would be cause for celebration.

The red grid of the Kinect IR illuminator came on. Everything worked perfectly again. Exactly twelve seconds later, it blinked out, as it had done a dozen times before. The visiting glass artist wasn't impressed with our demo.

Good tidings from France. The app works great on Pierre's newly-bought Acer laptop. A thunderhead was building in the horizon. The three-wall cave projection setup comes out with a wrong aspect ratio. I sipped my matcha latte and looked at the sun setting behind the cargo ships moored off West Kowloon. There's still 20 hours before the gig.

The motion was mesmerizing. Tiny fairies weaving around each other, hands swatting them aside on long trajectories off-screen. I clenched my fist and the fairies formed a glowing ring of power, swirling around my hand like a band of living light. The keyboard was bringing the escaping clouds to life, sending electric pulses through the expanding shells of fairies knocked off-course.

Beat. The music and Isabelle's motion become one, the cloud of fairies behind her blows apart from the force of her hands, like sand thrown in the air. Cut to the musicians, illuminated by the gridlines of the projection. Fingers beating the neon buttons of the keyboard, shout building in the microphone. The tension running through the audience is palpable. Beat. The flowing dancer's dress catches a group of fairies. Isabelle spins and sends them flying.

The AI

A dot. I press space. The dot blinks out and reappears. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. I press space. The dot blinks out and reappears. Human computation.

Sitting at a desk in Zhuzhou. The visual has morphed into a jumble of sharp lines, rhythmically growing every second. The pulse driving it makes it glow. Key presses simulate the drums we want to hook up to it. Rotate, rotate, zoom, disrupt, freeze. The rapid typing beat pushes the visual to fill-rate destroying levels and my laptop starts chugging.

Sharp lines of energy, piercing the void around them. A network of connections shooting out to other systems. Linear logic, strictly defined, followed with utmost precision. The lines begin to _bend_, almost imperceptibly at first. A chaotic flow pulls the lines along its turbulent path. And, stop. Frozen in time, the lines turn. Slowly, they begin to grow again, but straight and rigid, linear logic revitalized. Beginning of the AI Winter.

The fucking Kinect dropped out again! I start kicking the wire and twisting the connector. That fucker, it did it once in the final practice already, of course it has to drop out at the start of the performance as well. Isabelle's taking it in stride, she's such a pro. If the AI doesn't want to dance with her, she'll dance around it. I push myself down from my seat. How about if I push the wire at the Kinect end, maybe taping it to the floor did ... oh it works again. I freeze, not daring to move, lying on the floor of the theater. Don't move don't move don't move, keep working you bastard! The glowing filter bubbles envelop Isabelle's hands, the computer is responsive again. Hey, it's not all bad. We could use this responsiveness toggle for storytelling, one more tool in the box.

We're the pre-war interexpressionist movement. Beautiful butterflies shining in the superheated flashes of atomic explosions.

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Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes