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Archive for April, 2015

What’s New? Latoocarfians and Talks

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

latoocarfian chaotic function
A Latoocarfian chaotic function

After a long hiatus, I’ve finally published new content to my Artsnova Digital Art Gallery web site. Frankly, I’ve been busy with other projects and updating my Artsnova web site got pushed down the queue. (Note that this blog is actually separate from the web site.) In addition to agreeing to manage the Enterprise in Space Orbiter Design Contest last fall, I undertook an even larger project – designing and launching my own photography web site at Jim Plaxco Photography. Still in my queue of to-do items is converting this blog into a design that is mobile-device friendly – moving up the queue as a consequence of Google’s soon to be updated search ranking algorithm which will push non-mobile-friendly sites further down the search engine results page.

I’ve also been busy working on an algorithmic art book project. To date I have created approximately 40 plus illustrations for the book. My target for the total number of illustrations is in the 60 to 80 range – with the final count depending upon how the extra illustrations will impact the book’s final cost and price. This will be what I hope is the first in a series of books on different forms of computer art.

Two additions I made were two new art presentations: The Beauty of Algorithmic Art and Designing Algorithmic Art: From Concept to Realization. Both of these talks draw heavily on the work I am doing on my algorithmic art book. I will be giving one, possibly both, of these talks at a regional MENSA convention this fall.

I’ve also added a new computer art tutorial – Latoocarfian Chaotic Function Tutorial. This tutorial explains some of the function’s math while providing the source code for a Processing programming language implementation. This is a beginner’s level tutorial and will hopefully encourage someone to more seriously consider this avenue of artistic creation.

In exploring these Latoocarfian chaotic functions I decided to create an expanded variation for the creation of additional art for my book project. One example is A Day In The Life Of A Latoocarfian – so titled as I had the program that was creating this particular artwork run for one full day on a separate dedicated computer.

This week I was also working on an interactive generative painting program which is now basically complete and which I will be writing about in my next blog post.

In closing, I am still collecting input for my digital art and photography newsletter. If you would like to provide input, then please take part in the short, brief survey available at Artsnova Digital Art and Photography Newsletter Survey

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Chicago Lake FX Summit and Expo for Artists

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Chicago Lake FX Summit and Expo for Artists

I’ll be attending the Lake FX Summit and Expo April 16-19, 2015. The expo has as its target audience artists and creative professionals working in film, music, fashion, culinary, the visual arts, and performing arts. The expo is managed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and has Google as a presenting sponsor. The expo theme is "Improvisation and Innovation."

The Lake FX Summit and Expo is an integrated successor to three past separate expos: the Creative Chicago Expo, the Chicago Music Summit and the Chicago Film and Media Summit. This event is being billed as the midwest’s largest free conference for artists and other creative professionals. Program components are spread out between the Chicago Cultural Center, Virgin Hotels Chicago, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Hard Rock Hotel, and the State Street Macy’s.

I have previously attended the Creative Chicago Expo and found it to be a worthwhile event. I’m not sure if trying to create a mega-event from three separate specialized expos is a smart thing to do from the perspective of the individual attendees. We’ll see.

Looking through the programming guide, as an artist I find the following presentations to be the most relevant to my interests:

Who’s Your Audience? NEA Recent Research in the Arts
Discussion of the National Endowment for the Arts research on "Public Participation in the Arts, 2002–2012" and other related topics.
How to Win at YouTube
Discussion on video creativity and review of what types of videos work on YouTube.
Self-Management Tool Kit for Artists
Discussion about the business of being an artist.
Portfolio Reviews: How to Share Your Work
A How-To on presenting your portfolio for review to curators, gallery directors, art critics, etc.
Protect Your Creative Content
Yep, all about copyright protection and trademark protection given by the group Lawyers for the Creative Arts.
Intro to Crowdfunding and Fiscal Sponsorship
A panel on using crowdfunding (think Kickstarter and Indiegogo) as a way to raise money.
Video 101 for Artists and Arts Organizations
A panel discussion for artists on the role of video as a marketing and fundraising tool.
Maker to Market
A panel on the maker scene done in collaboration with World Business Chicago.
Online Risks and Rewards: What Your Business Can and Can’t Do Online
Explores the legal aspects of doing business online.
Photoshop Basics for Artists
Okay, if I have nothing else to do I’ll attend this one just to see what aspects of Photoshop they’ll be covering.

Fortunately for me, all the programming for the Visual and Performing Arts Track and for the General Track is being held at the Chicago Cultural Center – meaning I don’t have to run back and forth between separate venues.

Note that people are encouraged to pre-register for the expo. Benefits of pre-registration include "Fast Pass" access to some of the programs being held at the Chicago Cultural Center Claudia Cassidy Theater and automatic entry into several drawings. Complete details on the expo and a link to the registration form is available from the expo’s main web page at
Lake FX Summit and Expo.

In closing, if you know an artist or a person in one of the other creative fields, please share this information with them.

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Space Art, Lunar Bases, and Space in Chicago

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Lacus Somniorum, Moon
Lacus Somniorum, Moon

Did you ever see that movie Sybil with Sally Field as the multiple personality woman? That’s me. Only I’m not a woman and it’s not multiple personalities — it’s multiple interests. Two interests that are obvious to people who know me are digital art and space — both of the astronomical variety and the space exploration variety.

My multiple competing interests — not to mention my interests in photography (see Jim Plaxco Photography), a wide variety of computing topics, and an interest in economics (my B.S was in Economics) — serve to limit the amount of time I can devote to each individually. In fact I’d say that I frequently find myself the victim of thrashing — an old computer science term describing the sub-optimal performance of a computer when it spends too much time switching between tasks.

It is much the same with my art. I have an interest in a variety of artistic subjects as well as creating art using a variety of stylistic approaches. I really chafe at the traditional advice given to artists that they should pick one subject and one style and stick to it. Where is the intellectual and creative fun in that? I understand how the one subject-one style approach works well for branding but why limit your creative ventures just so you can be more marketable and identifiable? In the acting profession that’s known as being typecast.

One recent activity of mine that neatly joined my interests in art and space was serving as a judge in the National Space Society’s 2015 International Student Art Contest (see NSS 2015 International Student Art Contest). We finished judging the submitted art last Friday. It took us a good number of hours to go through the 85 submitted works of art. Our first task was to categorize the art and determine whether or not each submission met the contest guidelines. The rule that all submitted art must feature one or more people doing something in a space setting disqualified a number of submissions.

The thorniest issue was regarding that of realism and led to the most intense debate between the judges. Some wanted to establish higher standards for the quality of the art that would be accepted. I argued that since this art contest was marketed as a contest for students and had entries from sixth grade through college, it was not appropriate to expect a sixth grader to produce artwork of the same caliber as that of a college student. On the whole, my approach won out.

One of the stipulations for the art contest was that if the judges felt that none of the submitted art was worthy of being awarded a prize then none would be given. Fortunately I can say that we did award several prizes. However, because the contest results have not yet been announced I can say no more on this subject.

On another space note, I’ve also been spending more time than planned taking the Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight online class from EDX.ORG. The class is being taught by MIT Professor Jeffrey Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut who made the trip to space five times on NASA’s Space Shuttle (Hoffman was the first astronaut to log 1000 hours on the Shuttle). My motivation in taking this class was to refresh old knowledge and hopefully pick up some new knowledge.

In one of my roles as President of the Chicago Society for Space Studies, I do a variety of educational space development presentations so a good understanding of the various issues is critical. It was in this role that I spoke a couple weeks ago at Loyola University as a part of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. The title of my presentation was From Camp Century to the Moon and in this presentation I emphasized the future commercial opportunities of lunar development (neatly combining my interests in space and economics). The “Camp Century” in the title of my talk is a reference to the nuclear powered "city" the U.S. Army built under the Greenland ice outwardly to do science and learn to live and work in arctic conditions — but secretly a part of Project Iceworm. I use Camp Century in my presentation due to the similarities it has to a lunar base. On a related note, my next space to-do is actually tonight when I’ll be doing a shortened version of this presentation for the Rotary Club of Arlington Heights IL. I’m willing to bet that having someone speak about the commercial development of the Moon is rather out of the ordinary for them. We’ll see.

The Illustration: Lacus Somniorum, Moon

The illustration for this post is a small section of a digital painting I did of the Moon. This particular art project of mine was inspired by a painting of the Moon done in 1875 by astronomer/artist Étienne Léopold Trouvelot (December 26, 1827–April 22, 1895) whose work I greatly admire. At some point I do plan on adding this work, as well as several other works of lunar art, to my Moon Art Gallery.

The region shown in the illustration is that of Lacus Somniorum (Latin for Lake of Dreams), an irregular plain near the Moon’s northeastern limb. Specifically it is at selenographic coordinates 38 degrees north and 29 degrees east. With a diameter of 384 kilometers, it is the largest "lacus" on the Moon.

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