• There are dozens of other artists working all over the world in much the same fashion. One of the most tireless innovators and architects of the digital art world is Mr. Vux (Julien Vulliet) who has produced several freely available video tutorials and whose contributions to vvvv provide fundamental functionality – essential nodes like the DX11 Renderer bear his name. Vadim Samthkin is another regular contributor who worked on the beautiful and ground breaking Antrum installation, Mangosh Prunier (you’ve seen him before but he deserves a second mention) whose virtuoso video tutorials can help you achieve – among other wonders – real time animation of three dimensional meshes, Antokhio VJ who takes time out from producing mind blowing sound reactive visuals to teach us about ray marching, Kyle McLean from the everyoneiahappy studio whose ‘Instance Noodles’ are revolutionising real time graphics, David Mórász a tireless vvvv developer but who also hosts and broadcasts the ‘vveekend workshop’ series of tutorials – the list goes on, but you get the idea.

    Through the liberality and inventiveness of these artistic communities the most esoteric digital techniques are available to anyone with an Internet connection. This enables everyone with diligence, creativity and vision to produce incredible work on the cutting edge of technological discovery. Not only that but be able to connect to a helpful, friendly egalitarian community as well. In our cynical, market driven world this offers a democratic beacon of hope, not unlike the Anonymous and Occupy movements. Not only are the ghosts still in the machine, but they are reprogramming it – together.   

  • It is not just amongst vvvv enthusiasts that this generosity exists. For more experienced coders there is GitHub – a code repository open to anyone where developers make their whole libraries available to utilised by others. The code can be taken, manipulated and customised into a myriad of other projects with the writers blessing. Another platform is openFrameworks  - a code based interface and library that is totally open source with a supportive, sharing community underpinning it. Elliot Woods, who along with Mimi Son, heads the Korean-based digital art studio Kimchi and Chips is a regular contributor and evangelist of all three of these platforms. Kimchi and Chips are also one the most important producers of digital art in the world today, with several highly innovative and totally original projects bearing their stamp. Light Barrier, one of their more recent works, has won several accolades and achieves what was once thought impossible; to project three-dimensional shapes in mid-air. Using an array of dozens of convex mirrors and several projectors, beams are brought to a focus in smoke filled air make animated shapes that rotate and gyrate in width, height and depth; geometric phantoms that challenge the laws of physics. 

    Elliot is also one of the most committed practitioners to the open, free and creative transfer of knowledge and skills in the digital arena. One of the areas he has been concentrating on is the issue of device calibration in projection mapping. This is a notoriously complex and fraught procedure involving specific calibration data sets to get cameras, projectors and sensors to ‘see’ from the same perspective. When this is achieved incredibly precise and nuanced mapped projection can be achieved. In an attempt to demystify the process and let digital artists concentrate on content rather than technique he has written an application solely for calibrating devices. It is called Rulr and is totally open source with development by other users actively encouraged.

     

    Joanie Lemercier is another highly imaginative digital artist with an international profile who is happy contribute his amazing discoveries, constructions and contrivances to open source libraries. He has worked on several stunning projection mapping based projects in various countries. One of his most recent was ‘Nimbes’ – an epic 360o, immersive installation with a live soundtrack. Monumental architecture and landscape are rendered as three-dimensional ‘point clouds’ and projected onto the four walls of a cavernous space with the viewer placed at the centre of the piece. The process by which he achieved the tessellated, polygonal aesthetic of some the elements in the work is readily available in the Contributions area of the vvvv website, along with a projection mapping toolkit written by him as well. The same toolkit is available in code form in his gitHub repository along a few other goodies.

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  • Take for example Refik Anadol’s stunning public artwork in San Francisco ‘Virtual Depictions’.  Refik’s ambitions for the piece are ‘….to bring 21st century approach to public art, to define new poetics of space through media arts and architecture and to create a unique parametric data sculpture that has an intelligence, memory and culture’. The installation consists of a mammoth LED wall (40’ x 80’) in the glass fronted lobby of the 350 Mission Building (the city’s ‘greenest’ office building) displaying custom designed, generative animations sculpted by statistics of social media usage in the surrounding city. Refik is undoubtedly the frontman for the work but he is very quick to acknowledge the collaborative method in which it was achieved – in fact he is insistent that it couldn’t be achieved any other way.

    Refik discovered the vvvv community when working on a previous project. He was making an interactive mapped projection based round an orchestra performance in the Walt Disney auditorium in San Francisco. He came to the realisation that there was no available software to facilitate his ambitions. He approached the vvvv community (a group of writers and users of the graphic coding interface vvvv) and they offered a solution – if the software does not exist, they would help him make it. This collaboration worked beautifully and is now Refik’s main mode of production. For the 350 Mission project he worked in close collaboration with vvvv guru Sebastian Neitsch but utilised Evvvvil’s (aka Mangosh Prunier) Tweet Engine to collect the social media data. Refik gladly acknowledges Mangosh’s input but there is no real onus on him to do so. The Tweet Engine is in the Contributions section of the vvvv website. You or I could download it right now for free and use it in whatever way we wanted – you don’t even have to register.

    There are hundreds of Contributions on the vvvv website that offer beautiful, elegant and complex levels of functionality within vvvv. They are all produced by members of the community and uploaded, to be shared for free without restriction to be used as solutions by other users. Andrej Boleslavský’s magical ‘Kinect Hit Boxes’ can be incorporated in any vvvv patch in order to utilise the Kinect sensor to trigger elements in a three dimensional space. Up to five virtual ‘boxes’ can be placed in the 3mthrow of the depth camera in the Kinect sensor. These are invisible to the viewer, but as they pass through a signal is created by the depth camera that can be used to trigger the playback, volume and visibility of video and audio assets. This renders a live, ‘playable’ space. The possibilities are endless. We are not restricted to virtual assets either, by introducing a micro controller such as Arduino, physical aspects can also be manipulated through the use of servo motors and other such devices.

     

     



  • Generosity - It’s not necessarily the first concept you would you would associate with digital art is it? Innovative, esoteric, and highly fashionable would be the usual adjectives - but generous? Generous just doesn’t sound cool enough to describe the wonders we have seen being produced recently by the convergence of code, cortex and computer. Yet generosity, collaboration and democracy, from my experience, are the most prevalent motifs of the current digital art scene. A scene that moves too fast to be co-opted by commerce, too nimble to be tied to any particular device and way too enthusiastic to be cynically self-serving. 

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  • Children of I O by Martin Coyne