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Archive for the ‘Processing’ Category

Creative Coding Software Tools: Processing, openFrameworks, Cinder

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Creative Coding Software Tools:
Creative Coding Software Tools: Processing, openFrameworks, Cinder

In my previous blog post, Fresh Brewed Coffee Digital Art, I made mention of the fact that I create my digital art using software of my own design and that for those digital artists interested in pursuing this aspect of digital art creation, there were some alternative tools available. In that post I mentioned Processing, openFrameworks, and Cinder. I would like to take this opportunity to say a little more about each of these three options.

Processing

Starting with Processing, this is a framework and programming language that is built on top of Java, an object-oriented programming language. Like Java, Processing is free and available on a variety of platforms. Personally I use Processing on both Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux. Because the Processing programming language was created for artists and musicians with little or no programming background, beginners can quickly be up, running, and creating with this wonderfully flexible software tool. The flexibility of Processing as an environment for creative coding is expanded by the abundance of third party libraries that have been made available. It is also the most flexible tool in terms of the variety of platforms it works with. I have taken advantage of the ability to write Processing sketches for the web using the Javascript version of Processing (Processing.js) as well as for creating Android apps and for interacting with the Arduino (see The Arduino Starter Kit – Official Kit from Arduino with 170-page Arduino Projects Book). For those new to programming and creative coding, Processing is my number one recommendation.

Processing Resources

The main Processing web sites are:

Following are three books on Processing that I recommend and own. There are a number of other books on Processing that are also quite good. Please be aware that Processing is now on version 3 and version 2 is still widely used but do avoid any book that was written for version 1 of Processing.

openFrameworks

Like Processing, openFrameworks is also free and available on multiple platforms. In fact I even had the opportunity to write some openFrameworks programs on a Raspberry Pi (see CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Ultimate Starter Kit – 32 GB Edition) that was running the Raspbian operating system. The primary difference between Processing and openFrameworks is that whereas Processing is a framework that sits on top of the Java programming language, openFrameworks sits on top of the C++ programming language. Personally I find openFrameworks to be somewhat more challenging than Processing, particularly with respect to the use of off-frame buffers in conjunction with OpenGL. And by challenging, I am speaking in terms of the number of lines of code I must write in order to achieve some objective.

openFrameworks Resources

The main web sites for openFrameworks are:

There are not nearly as many books about openFrameworks as there are about Processing but the two that are most worthwhile are:

If you are searching on Amazon for books about Processing and/or openFrameworks, you may come across the book Programming Interactivity: A Designer’s Guide to Processing, Arduino, and openFrameworks by Joshua Noble. My advise is do not buy this book. It is quite out of date and the source code for the examples never was made available.

Cinder

Cinder is a third creative coding platform and, like openFrameworks, relies on the C++ programming language. I have no personal experience with Cinder but I will say that when I was investigating openFrameworks vs Cinder as a creative coding toolset for the C++ environment, openFrameworks won out.

Cinder Resources

The main Cinder web sites are:

There are even fewer books about Cinder than there are about openFrameworks. Two books you will find on Amazon are:

I hope you’ve found this information useful. I also hope that, even if you are not a digital artist or musician or programmer, you check one or more of these creative coding toolsets because you never know – you just might have a knack for creative coding.

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Makers Faire Milwaukee, Charon Wallpaper, and Art Workflow

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

Inside Makers Faire Milwaukee
Inside Makers Faire Milwaukee

A couple weeks ago I attended Makers Faire Milwaukee. I had meant to do a write up of my experience but I’ve had a case of writer’s block in figuring out just what I wanted to say. I was at Makers Faire for two reasons. First, I was conducting a workshop on Creating Digital Spirographs and Harmonographs with Processing – a favorite of mine as it combines art with math with programming.

Second, wearing my NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Solar System Ambassador hat, I delivered a presentation on the New Horizons mission to Pluto. With respect to my Pluto talk, a number of the illustrations I use are either my own renders or my own interpretations of New Horizons imagery. For example, here is a free wallpaper version of my enhanced and colorized image of Charon that I’ve previously shared on social media.

Lastly I’ve been adding new fields to my art inventory spreadsheet that I hope to be able to use to help automate the production of gallery pages here on my web site. While I was at it, I decided to do a basic write-up of the data keeping portion of my art work flow. If this is of interest to you, then see My Art Workflow – The Management Bits.

With respect to my art, consider checking out my portfolios on the following art print on demand sites.

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Musecon Review

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Modified Spirograph program output from Musecon class
Modified Spirograph sample output from a modified Spirograph program

I spent this last weekend attending Musecon which was held at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca, IL. MuseCon is a three day convention for makers, artists, musicians, and other creatives that provides a wide range of creative programming. For my part, Musecon began Friday afternoon with the class I was teaching on how to use the Processing programming language to create a digital spirograph and a digital harmonograph (for more, see Creating Digital Spirographs and Harmonographs with Processing).

The class went quite well and I was surprised by the number of students I had since my class was in the first block of programming – which was Friday at 1:30pm. I can’t complain about the scheduling of the class since I was the one who selected that time slot. Getting my programming done at the very start of the convention meant that I had a worry-free weekend to attend the other programs that interested me without having to carry around the electronic baggage needed for the class. This is the third year that I’ve had the opportunity to participate as a presenter in Musecon’s programming lineup and it was nice having completed my part within the first hours of the convention. If you want to read about what I did last year, check out Generative Art plus Instagram and Pinterest at Musecon.

I spent the rest of the weekend attending programming and chatting with folks I only see maybe once or twice a year. With respect to the programming I attended, my top three favorite programs were:

  • God’s Mechanics: The Religious Life of Techies
  • Physical Properties of Meteorites
  • Photography: Champagne lighting on a grape juice budget

This year the convention had as Guest of Honor Brother Guy Consolmagno. In addition to having his PhD in Planetary Science and having authored a number of excellent books, Brother Guy recently won the Carl Sagan Medal and is now President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

The program God’s Mechanics: The Religious Life of Techies was a presentation by Brother Guy about the subject of his book God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion – which is a fascinating look at how "techies" look at and think about religion and deal with the question of God’s existence.

Musecon Guest of Honor Brother Guy Consolmagno talking about Meteorites
Musecon Guest of Honor Brother Guy Consolmagno talking about Meteorites

My second favorite program was also a presentation by Brother Guy. Physical Properties of Meteorites was an interesting look at the history of meteorites in terms of human understanding of how the solar system works. Brother Guy also discussed some of his own research and its relevance to the larger field of study. Once upon a time my interest in meteorites was keener than it is today – particular since I served as an officer and director of the Planetary Studies Foundation, which at the time had one of the top meteorite collections in the world. The overwhelming bulk of that collection had been received as a donation from the DuPont family. It was in those years that I once had the opportunity to be on a panel about meteorites with Brother Guy at a science fiction convention – though I no longer recall which one it was.

Lastly my third favorite program of the weekend was Photography: Champagne lighting on a grape juice budget which was led by Richard France, Ken Beach, Bruce Medic – all of whom are really excellent photographers whose work I admire. The theme of their program was about taking a DIY (do it yourself) approach to coming up with alternative lighting and equipment solutions. Think in terms of retasking old items or using as substitutes items that could be purchased from your local hardware store.

In closing, Musecon 2015 was a totally enjoyable weekend and one I look forward to repeating in 2016.



God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense
of Religion

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Pluto and the NASA New Horizons Mission

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Pluto New Horizons Pluto-Palooza talk
Pluto New Horizons Pluto-Palooza talk

One thing consuming my time recently has been the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto and the spacecraft’s passage through the Plutonian system on Tuesday July 14. This mission reawakened a somewhat dormant interest in planetary science. Once upon a time the majority of the talks I gave at area libraries and at science fiction conventions dealt with planetary science, particularly Mars. Over the years as passions waxed and wanned my areas of focus (as least as far as public speaking was concerned) shifted to talks about algorithmic art, astronomical art, generative art, social media, space commercialization, space development, and more recently the Processing programming language.

New Horizons is a historic mission. We’ve had robotic missions to planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. We’ve even had the first mission to a dwarf planet – that being the Dawn mission to Ceres. One thing we’ve never had is a mission to a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) because that is what Pluto is properly categorized as. In fact, this is one point that I emphasize with my audience – the real value of the New Horizons mission to Pluto is not about visiting the one unvisited planet but about being the first mission to this relatively new category of solar system object. The opportunity to study these ancient icy dwarfs of the solar system close-up is and will continue to be exceedingly rare.

One thing that I have found somewhat annoying has been a number of comments on social media expressing disappointment at the quality of images returned to Earth by New Horizons and that there are so few of them. It’s unfortunate that so many people do not understand that the New Horizons spacecraft, by design, can not simultaneously collect data and send data back to Earth. During the close encounter phase (approach, encounter, and departure phases) the spacecraft’s job has been to collect data – and rightly so. In the days after the closest approach to Pluto, the images that were being released were all taken from the day before the close encounter when the spacecraft was still over half a million kilometers from Pluto! Recall that on the 14th New Horizons actually flew past Pluto as a distance of a mere 12,500 kilometers. For reference, the geostationary satellites in orbit above the Earth are just shy of 36,000 kilometers over our heads.

I gave my Pluto – New Horizons presentation for the first time on Sunday July 19 at the Schaumburg Library for the meeting of the Chicago Society for Space Studies. I was slightly out of sorts because the laptop I use for my presentations… well that morning when I turned it on I couldn’t get past the BIOS startup screen. Fortunately I had made a backup of my presentation on a thumb drive. I hadn’t added much after making that copy so the presentation was essentially complete. I pulled out my son’s 4+ year old discarded laptop (too many blue screens of death according to him) and used that to do my presentation. (Yes I actually compartmentalize my computing life so that different computers are used for specific functions. And no, I have not yet begun to troubleshoot what’s wrong with my "presentations " computer.)

As a consequence of questions from the audience and to tighten up the story line, I deleted a number of slides from the talk while adding a few new ones. Tightening up also helped me to cut the length of my talk because as a speaker I encourage the audience to ask questions as my presentation progresses. I gave this new version of the talk at the Roden Branch of the Chicago Public Library last night. The changes I made both improved the flow and allowed me to finish right on time – even with questions from the audience. Not giving much away, the graphic below shows the 70 slides in the Pluto New Horizons talk that I gave last night.

Pluto New Horizons Pluto-Palooza talk
Slides for my Pluto New Horizons Pluto-Palooza lecture

The next presentation I’ll be giving will be at Musecon, a convention for artists, musicians, inventors, gadgeteers, makers, tinkerers, and other creative folks. My talk isn’t about Pluto though. What I’ll be doing is teaching a class on creating digital spirographs and harmonographs using the Processing programming language.

Creating Digital Spirographs and Harmonographs With Processing
Creating Digital Spirographs and Harmonographs With Processing presentation

Musecon is August 7,8.9 and is being held at Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca, Illinois. Musecon’s Guest of Honor is Brother Guy Consolmango, President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation and accomplished author. It’s been my honor to have been on a few panels with Brother Guy in the past. As I recall, one dealt with asteroids, another with Mars, and the third with planetary science missions in general. These panels were all at science fiction conventions. That’s right, there is much more to science fiction conventions than just science fiction.

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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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Generative Art plus Instagram and Pinterest at Musecon

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Musecon 4 Convention
Musecon 4 Convention

This weekend I’ll be attending MuseCon 4, being held at Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca, IL. Billed as a weekend-long convention for artists, musicians, inventors, gadgeteers, makers, tinkerers, and creative people of all ages, the convention is three days of a wide variety of creative workshops spanning a surprisingly broad range of creative projects – from making chain maille to programming Arduinos.

As a part of Musecon, I’ll be teaching two classes/workshops. The first workshop I’ll be giving is Generative Art and Processing. I’m going out on a limb with this one. Instead of having a canned, pre-prepared, formal presentation, I’m going to challenge the class to collectively create a generative art program. As we agree on concepts, I’ll demonstrate to the class how to go about creating the necessary code to implement our visual concepts. My objective is for students to acquire a basic understanding of generative art concepts and how the Processing programming language can be used to implement a generative art concept.

The second workshop I’ll be teaching is Instagram and Pinterest for Artists and Photographers. This is one of my standard presentations and is geared towards strategies as opposed to being a how-to tutorial. For more information about this workshop, see Instagram and Pinterest for Artists and Photographers.

Besides teaching, there are several workshops that I hope to attend. On my list are:

  • Arduino Programming
  • Digital Cameras: Best For The Price
  • Free Blinkies
  • Intro to Runes
  • Portfolio Development

My Musecon Class Schedule

Following is the time and location information for the two classes I’ll be teaching.

Program: Generative Art and Processing
Time: Saturday 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Room: Carlyle

Program: Instagram and Pinterest for Artists and Photographers
Time: Saturday 9:00 PM – 10:15 PM
Room: Carlyle

To learn more about Musecon visit the MuseCon 4 Convention Web Site.

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