Sabrina Ratté

I discovered the work of Sabria Ratté recently which I just love.

I found her work via a clip done for Plaid, from the recent album ‘Reachy Prints’.

You can check out her website and blog for more.

Processing 3D

Just as I’ve been diving into Touch Designer and vvvv I somehow jump back into Processing and get some 3d animation happening.

For ages I was super bummed out about my results in Processing, but it kinda hit me the other day that I was still working in 2d.

I don’t know why I was so afraid to work in 3d in Processing for so long – maybe I thought it was too hard. Or maybe a bit of work in vvvv and TD made me realise it wasn’t such a big deal.

But also, you know, I kinda figured – the Processing default rendering context is 2d. It only takes three keystrokes to change the context to 3d, but i think that the fact it boots up as a 2d environment in some ways influences that a little bit.

Anyway, I’ve been working on a couple 3d things which make me think it could finally lead to something much bigger. Makes me feel my time with Processing hasn’t been all in vain – and I might see a lot more progress with it 😀

Here’s a few screenshots of the sketches below…

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Spout

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I’ve been using Touch Designer and vvvv a fair bit lately on Windows.

If you’re looking for an environment to create real-time visuals in then you really can’t go passed either of them.

But which one should you choose? I’ve been oscillating between both, and at the moment it’s clear some things are more visible and easy to achieve in Touch Designer, and others in vvvv.

Whether or not I’ll keep working in both I’m yet to decide, but for now there’s a cool way called Spout that can enable the two to work together, as well a whole host of other applications. I managed to get textures routed out of TD into vvvv in a snap.

Maybe you don’t have to make a choice, and instead pursue both, for their own purposes. So now, much like Syphon on Mac, it’s now possible to route video textures from one to the other.

Spout was made by Zeal’s Dad 🙂

vvvv/framed*

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I’ve always felt like there’s a key difference between live software and video that I could never quite put my finger on. With video, there’s always compression involved, unless you go full uncompressed. But with software, the image is never compressed – it’s a fine grain of sharp – a kind of communion directly between the graphics processing of the GPU and the screen on which you watch it.

Rarely however, is one watching an uncompressed video. We live in an age of compression, from YouTube, to DVD, to Blu-Ray – all video displays artefacts of its downsizing to smaller file sizes and more economical formats.

But the thing that blows my mind is how uncompressed video is in the magnitude of 10’s of 100’s of Gigabyte’s of data, whereas software, for the same experience of clarity, is but a few kilobyte’s.

There’s this kind of efficiency in that process, a kind of conservative aspect to software, computationally. Rather than being a massive chunk of data, its an incredibly efficient and lightweight process. Of course, software brings with it countless other unique qualities, but this one in particular has always intrigued me.

So it kinda hit me today, this thing I love about software: its the aesthetics that I love. Not in any kind of stylistic way – like fashionable trends or particular forms – but in the sense of its pure form – direct, pixel for pixel representation and its computationally inexpensive nature.

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Recently I’d been playing with Touch Designer, a real-time production tool for all sorts of media. And lately I’ve begun working with vvvv, another real-time tool.

On the top of this fascination with the aesthetic qualities of software, I’m also drawn toward another one of its prime qualities: that of runtime.

Both vvvv and Touch seem to offer excellent ways of exploring both of these core elements, with each offering their own advantages.

And strangely, as much as I enjoyed the text-based process of Processing, somehow my progress with both Touch and vvvv seems to be an order of magnitude greater, even though I never really took to patching programs.

So to that end, I’ve backed a Kickstarter project called Framed*, which I have been following for some years, and which seems to be a first step in bringing the runtime art of software to a screen native to it, for use in the home, galleries, and all manner of interior spaces.

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Framed* is a lovely, minimal screen design with wooden edges, smartphone connectivity, motion sensors, and an app store for digital art.

Whether it runs Touch or vvvv remains to be seen, but it will run a range of apps and software out of the box via an internet browser.

Still, one can’t help feeling that it’s still a bit of a way to go for this kind thing, as a few players emerge within this field (Sedition, Electric Objects, for example) the vibe is somewhat proprietary. And some creators will, if their software tool of choice is not supported, potentially remain rendering real-time software to uncompressed/compressed video for upload to linear playback.

Fingers crossed the Framed* team (or even Electric Objects) get it right, and runtime, digital art can finally take its place among the traditional artforms in its display in interior spaces.

Touch Designer

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It’s easy to get stuck between creating things and learning new tools. Somehow you have to strike a balance between technique and results.

But maybe software is kind’ve different. With paint, it’s a direct 1:1 relationship. Same for almost all other mediums. But with software there’s a level of displacement between what you know about the software, and how you can achieve your ideas.

Maybe it’s more like weaving, or knitting. You at least need to understand the technique before you can achieve it. Or you could just create knots. Improvising with mistakes. Its never black and white I guess.

Lately I’ve been looking into the tool Touch Designer by Derivative. It seems to provide a nice middle ground where I can get stuff done and realize technically complex ideas, but still keep some of the benefits that would come with writing your own software – such as real-time, iterative, generative, reactive, adaptive, interactive etc.

Plus, you can easily work with static media such as rendered audio or video. But it always seems to be this game of chasing down the right software, Max, Processing, VDMX, etc. Ultimately they all do their own thing. I think Processing remains a fantastic tool for learning programming. But coming at it already with a fairly strong digital media background, it’s always disappointing when you don’t achieve the same finish and polish as you could with traditional software like Apple or Adobe suites.

Even Max is a headfuck, requiring a lot of abstract and esoteric objects to chain things together in a desired way. I made a commitment and bought Max recently, but after some initial frustration had the thought to start experimenting in Touch, and quickly started achieving real-time 3d results. This is a real leap forward.

And VDMX which I’ve used in live shows is incredibly extensive and I love, but the idea of jumping into Quartz Composer to extend it became a kind of barrier for me, maybe in part due to its haphazard documentation and its questionable support from Apple.

Somehow I think Touch is going to become the mother program. Where other apps and software environments can feed into it, as well as any other media created elsewhere. In this way it becomes a useful bed for organising media, but also for presentation and performance.

Time will tell tho, it’s currently a Windows only app, and requires a fairly formidable system to run well. This provided a barrier of entry for me for some time until I recently got a new machine that supported it, but it also turned out surprising more easy and intuitive to use than I had previously thought.

I think after some initial surveying of the field (Unity, Processing, three.js), Touch Designer will serve as the main tool through my Masters degree for achieving work in real-time 3d.

More on this soon.

http://derivative.ca

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