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From Mensa Halloweem to Windycon Science Fiction Convention

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Ant Colony Landscape
Ant Colony Landscape

This last Halloween weekend I had the opportunity to give two presentations at a Chicago regional Mensa convention dubbed Halloweem, held at the Westin in Wheeling IL. The two presentations I gave were

It was a very enjoyable experience for me, made all the better by the inquisitiveness of the audience. The only downside was that I over indulged in the convention’s great food offerings. Also speaking at the convention was Kent Nebergall. Kent and I are both members of the Chicago Society for Space Studies Speakers Bureau. Curiously neither of us were giving space exploration presentations at the convention.

Shortly I’ll be leaving for the Windycon Science Fiction Convention being held at Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard IL. While I won’t be giving any presentations this year, I will be participating in some panels. The panels are:

  • Space Seconds which is a panel covering space missions that were not the first of their kind, but the second.
  • Pluto Update is a panel addressing the findings of the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
  • Autographing was to be an autographing session that I am forced to cancel as my book on algorithmic art is not yet available.
  • Why Social Media Sucks takes a look at the world of social media, both from a operational perspective as well as a communicational perspective.
  • Art Media is a panel that I’ll be moderating on how artists decide on their artistic media and the strengths and weaknesses of each media.

As noted above, I originally agreed to do an autograph session at a time when I thought that I would have print copies of my book The Beauty of Algorithmic Art available. However, in searching for a publishing platform I wound up discarding my original two finalists (Blurb and Lulu). I have investigated several additional vendors and am currently focusing on Bookbaby and IngramSpark.

In addition to participating in the panels identified above, I will also have several artworks in the convention’s art show.

This Post’s Illustration

While working on a program to implement an ant colony simulation, I discovered that I had a program that did a nice job of simulating natural media painting. The landscape image Ant Colony Landscape is the result of an initial test of a program where the ants sample an underlying photograph and paint their trail. I must point out that this output was generated during an early stage of the program’s development. Coding was done using the Processing framework. The motto of the story is that sometimes algorithms can take you to surprising destinations. For more information about ant colony optimization, see the Wikipedia entry on ant colony optimization algorithms.

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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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