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Archive for October, 2013

Mobile Processing Conference at UIC Innovation Center

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Mobile Processing Conference, UIC Innovation Center
Mobile Processing Conference, UIC Innovation Center

Tuesday night I returned from a 9 day trip to Arizona and tomorrow morning I’ll be heading out to attend the Mobile Processing Conference being held at the University of Illinois – Chicago Innovation Center. The Mobile Processing Conference runs November 1 – 3 from 10:30am to 5:30pm. It’s rare for events like this to be held here in Chicago so I’m indeed fortunate to be in a position to attend. From the web site:

The 2013 conference features artists, digital humanities scholars, and software developers in a series of presentations, panels, and workshops… The event is free and open to the public.

Note that there is a single track of programming. With one program per time period, I’ll be able to attend every program offered. Following is the scheduled programming.

Title: Seeing Sound
Description: Workshop on how to build a sound visualization system and "discuss why it’s completely useless."
Presenter: Lucas Kuzma
Comment Having written my own sound visualization programs and as a presenter on the subject (see Live Art – Interactive Audio Visualizations) I am very anxious to hear Mr. Kuzma’s take on the subject.
Title: Do You Need A CS Degree To Build Apps?
Description: A presentation dealing with whether or not a college degree in computer science is really necessary to be a successful software designer and programmer.
Presenter: Brandon Passley
Comment I will say this: in terms of the knowledge of specific programming languages I obtained in college, I’ve used none of that knowledge since graduating. The skills I learned while in college that have served me well are those associated with how to go about writing a program and how, in general, programming languages work. Mindset and experience is really what I gained from my college computer science classes. FYI – I received my masters in computer science
and was just one class shy of also qualifying for a bachelors degree in computer science.
Title: Breaking Barriers With Sound
Description: A presentation by Stanford Professor and Smule Co-founder Ge Wang about computer music, mobile music, laptop orchestras, and apps.
Presenter: Ge Wang
Comment Another must see for me – especially since I am current enrolled in the Coursera class Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists in which I am learning to use the ChucK programming language to create electronic music. In fact one of the instructors for the class is Ge Wang, the creator of the ChucK programming language.
Title: Off-The-Grid: Create Peer-To-Peer Collaborative Networks
Description: A discussion on collaboration using peer-to-peer wireless networks (WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC technologies) with the Ketai library for Processing
Presenter: Daniel Sauter/Jesus Duran
Comment This is a new topic area for me.
Title: Drawing Machines
Description: A workshop on Processing coding techniques for creating customized "drawing machines".
Presenter: JD Pirtle
Comment Another one I must attend as I have used Processing extensively creating quite a few of my own drawing machines.
Title: The Technology Landscape For Women And Issues Of Gender
Description: A panel about women in computing and why there are a smaller proportion of women in the field today than there were in the 80s.
Presenter: Amanda Cox, Marie Hicks, Lisa Yun Lee
Comment I must say I’m curious as to where these ladies are coming from and what they’ll have to say on the subject. According to a Wikipedia article on women in computing, In the United States, the number of women represented in undergraduate computer science education and the white-collar information technology workforce peaked in the mid-1980s, and has declined ever since. In 1984, 37.1% of Computer Science degrees were awarded to women; the percentage dropped to 29.9% in 1989-1990, and 26.7% in 1997-1998. Of course percentages can be deceiving. Left unanswered is the
percentage of the female population so engaged in the 80s vs today. Also from the same article:
A study of over 7000 high school students in Vancouver, Canada showed that the degree of interest in the field of computer science for teenage girls is comparably lower than that of teenage boys. The same effect is seen in higher education; for instance, only 4% of female college freshmen expressed intention to major in computer science in the US. I am curious to here how this issue is addressed.
Title: Seeing Sound
Description: A workshop for developing sonic visualizations including various methods for converting audio into images using openFrameworks.
Presenter: Lucas Kuzma
Comment From the description: Participants are expected to have a working copy of Xcode, as well as well as working knowledge of C++. Oops, Xcode is the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for the Apple OS. I’ve played with openFrameworks before but found it to be more code heavy than Processing due to OpenGL issues. Unfortunately I do not currently have an appropriate IDE installed for openFrameworks on my Windows laptop.
Title: Fast And Slow: Mobile Aesthetics And Civil Liberties
Description: Described as a discussion on how to empower a new generation of makers to participate in shaping the technological artifacts that shape us socially and culturally.
Presenter: Daniel Sauter
Comment This could go either way – we’ll see what happens.
Title: Sketching The News
Description: A look at some data visualization projects at the New York Times.
Presenter: Amanda Cox
Comment Another subject area in which I have interest and have done some work.
Title: Processing Shaders, The Sunday Sessions
Description: A workshop about GLSL shaders in Processing 2.0 with the main objectives being to present advanced applications of the shader API, specifically post-processing image filters and blending, procedural generation of 3D objects using fragment shaders, iterative effects with the pframe buffer, and shading of large-scale geometries.
Presenter: Andres Colubri
Comment Major changes were made between the Processing 1.xxx and 2.xxx versions. Most significant was the move towards OpenGL integration. This caused me some real headaches as Processing 2 just wouldn’t work properly on my computer. However upgrading my graphics card drivers did solve the problem (though it took some doing and hurdle jumping to accomplish). For more, see Shaders in Processing 2.0.
Title: Creative Coding on the Raspberry Pi with openFrameworks
Description: Like the title says, Creative Coding on the Raspberry Pi with openFrameworks. Raspberry Pi Hardware will be provided for use during the workshop. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop.
Presenter: Christopher Baker
Comment If you have never of it, you can find out all about Raspberry Pi here and read the Raspberry Pi FAQ.

The Mobile Processing Conference is being held at the UIC Innovation Center located at 1240 W Harrison St in Chicago, IL. For information about the conference, visit the Mobile Processing Conference web site

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A Fundraiser with Dancing, Music, and Art

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble art show
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble Fundraiser Art Show

I spent last Saturday afternoon and evening working as a volunteer at a fundraising event for the non-profit Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble. The Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble describes its mission as educating the public about Spanish dance and related arts as well as promoting appreciation and participation in these arts. The fundraiser was held at the DanceXpress Dance Studio, a member of CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters), in Arlington Heights IL.

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancers
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble Dancers

The fundraising component consisted of an admission donation, a raffle, and an art sale – which was the principal reason for my involvement. Event attendees were treated to food, drink, musical entertainment, and dancing. The evening opened with a half hour Latin music concert by Dean Milano followed by several dance routines, followed by a solo cello performance by one of the dance studio’s students, followed by more dancing. Following a short break attendees were treated to a classical guitar performance by Peter Dziadzka, whose wife is one of the dancers in the ensemble. This was followed by more dancing. The evening closed out with the raffle drawing and an open drum circle.

Unfortunately I missed the musical performances and most of the dancing as my responsibility was to monitor the room hosting the art show and to answer patron’s questions about the art. Fortunately the entrance to that room was right next to the buffet table so it was very easy (perhaps too easy) for me to help myself to the various delectables that were present.

Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancing
Flamenco Expresivo Dance Ensemble dancing

With respect to the art show and sale, the art in the show consisted of paintings and photography that featured dance as the subject. There were two works in the show that I found particularly appealing due to the style the artists used to create their artwork. As an artist I’m always interested in the techniques that other artists use in the creation of their art. As a rule, while I work to pursue my own creative path I do keep an eye open for styles that I find appealing and that I could possibly incorporate into my own work.

In Other News…

While posting to my blog has slowed due to being kept busy on other fronts, I have added new material to my Artsnova web site. First I’ve added two new presentations: Search Engine Optimization for Artists and Photographers and Social Media for Artists and Photographers. I created these two lectures in order to expand my portfolio of web-related presentations for artists and photographers.

I also added a PDF version of a short presentation I created that provides an overview of the various talks I give as an artist. The Presentations, Lectures, and Classes of Jim Plaxco is meant to serve as a handy reference for librarians, artist groups, and other organizations that may be interested in arranging for a presentation. I should point out that I also give very different sorts of presentations when wearing my other two hats – one as President of the Chicago Society for Space Studies and the other as a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador. For more information about my art presentations, visit my art lectures and presentations web page.

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