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Archive for October, 2008

Mensa, Algorithmic Art, and Monty Python

Friday, October 31st, 2008
Making Tracks Abstract Digital Art
Making Tracks Abstract

Pardon my absence friends but much has been going on that has kept me distracted from writing for my blog. This last weekend saw me attending the Chicago regional Mensa gathering known as HalloweeM. This four day conference/gathering was held at the Sheraton Chicago Northwest in Arlington Heights.

I gave two presentations at the conference, both in the main ballroom so I had a good audience for each. Friday night I gave my The Universe According to Monty Python presentation wherein I spend an hour talking about two minutes worth of song lyrics from The Galaxy Song. I got a fair number of questions from the audience as the subject matter ranges from the speed of the Earth’s rotation to the question of whether or not our universe is just one of many in the multiverse.

Saturday morning I delivered a presentation titled Algorithmic Art: Where Art Meets Math. This was the maiden voyage for this presentation and fortunately it went far better than the maiden voyage of the Titanic. I opened the presentation with a video produced by the Electric Sheep project which is a wonderful example of evolutionary art. Following the video, I began my talk with a discussion of non-representational art Рparticularly abstract expressionism, conceptualism, and neo-conceptualism. Using this as a foundation, I proceeded to make the case that algorithmic art is a valid art form. I continued with an examination of algorithmic art in its many guises Рfractal art, generative art, evolutionary art, etc. I also provided a look at a number of the pioneers in the field Рincluding Laposky and his oscillons, Frieder Nake, A. Michael Noll, and Jean-Pierre H̩bert, to name a few.

What surprised me most was that I got more questions during this presentation than I did during my Monty Python talk. Given the number of questions from the audience, my presentation wound up running long. Fortunately mine was the last program before the lunch break so not only was I able to complete my talk, I was also able to provide some live demonstrations of algorithmic art using the Processing platform.

So what did I like best about the conference you ask? Well besides meeting a number of very interesting people, the highlight would have to be the Pretentious Drinking event Saturday night which involved a ballroom and a line of tables that stretched from one wall to the other upon which were placed side by side innumerable bottles of different liqueurs all free for the sampling. And along the short wall was a well stocked dessert bar – a chocoholics paradise. While there I ran into Cynthia, the lady in charge of programming. We had a very nice chat and I’m very pleased to report that I’ve been invited back to next year’s gathering of Chicago area Mensans.

About the Image
Making Tracks is an abstract piece I created for this post and is meant to suggest a sphere moving with great speed – hence the name. The original is sized to serve as a desktop wallpaper.

So in closing, Happy Halloween everyone. Jim.

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