The Happiness Project

In collaboration with Artist Bloc, I will be showcasing a new piece in the Happiness Project exhibit, as part of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Nuit Blanche, it’s an all night art festival that takes place in Toronto’s downtown core, starting at 6:59 pm on Saturday October 1st, and continuing until 7 am the next day.

The exhibit is based on the concept album of the same name by Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think), and will showcase the work of a number of Toronto artists. Each artwork is inspired by one of the songs of the album, and as visitors wander through the gallery space, they will be able to interact with the various installations while listening to the accompanying soundtrack. The song my piece is is based on is Ondine. 

Needless to say, I’m very excited to be a part of this project. If you’re around the area during Nuit Blanche, please stop by and say hi! For more information and a list of all participating artists, you can check out the project’s website or visit the official Nuit Blanche listing.

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The Happiness Project

Oz Studios
134 Ossington Avenue, Toronto ON
October 1, 2011  7 PM   – October 2, 2011 7 AM

Flocking Study 2

Continued to study flocking behaviour. Beginning to use alignment forces and predators:

Again, most of this is based on Robert Hodgin’s tutorial on flocking, specifically chapter 5.

Origin

I had originally wanted to create a particle system typography, in which various particles would fly in from one side of the screen, come together to form a word, and then fly off in random directions. My initial approach was to simply change the prey particles to be attracted to the predator particles, instead of being repelled by them. Then, all I would need to do is set up the predator particles in the arrangement of the word I want to show.

However, it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. When there’s only one predator, it’s pretty straightforward. But when there are multiple attractor predators, it is the sum of their attraction forces acting on the prey particles. This makes it much more difficult to precisely determine the final shape that the prey particles take on. For example, when the predators are lined up in a straight line, the prey particles end up circling it perpendicularly, as shown in the video above ( the predators aren’t drawn).

Changes to Code

The first big change was to change the prey particles’ response to the predators, to make them attract instead of repel. I made it so that if the prey particles are a certain distance away from the predators, then they begin to feel an attraction force.

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for( list::iterator predator = mPredators.begin(); predator != mPredators.end(); ++predator )
{
   Vec3f dir = p1->mPos - predator->mPos[0];
   float distSqrd = dir.lengthSquared();
   if( distSqrd > predatorZoneRadiusSqrd ){
      dir.normalize();
      float pullStrength = 0.001f;
      p1->mVel -= dir * ( ( distSqrd - predatorZoneRadiusSqrd ) * pullStrength );
   }
}

Then I made the predators so that they did not move, and remained stationary. That was pretty straight forward: simply comment out the lines in Predator::update ( bool flatten ) which update the velocity component.

I then created a function in the ParticleController class called addStationaryPredators( ), which in this case just adds 10 predators in a line, spaced equally from each other:

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void ParticleController::addStationaryPredators()
{
   for (int i = 0; i < 10; i++){
     Vec3f pos = Vec3f(-40 + i*20.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f);
     Vec3f vel = Vec3f(0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f);
     mPredators.push_back( Predator( pos, vel ) );
   }
}

Source Code

Aurora Robson

Aurora Robson is an artist who works with recycled material, plastic debris, and junk mail to create large-scale organic sculptures and collages. Born in Toronto, she received her BA in Visual Art and Art History from Columbia University.

Lift (2010), a piece commissioned by Rice University in 2010, consists of 10,000 discarded plastic bottles and 3,000 plastic caps.

Another piece, Kamilo (2011), was constructed entirely using plastic debris that washed ashore on Hawaii.

 

A Community of Free Radicals (2007), a collage created out of junk mail:

New website, new initiative

I finally got around to redesigning and updating my portfolio these last few weeks. The biggest challenge was finding a way to categorize the more recent work, as I’ve been expanding beyond balloons and exploring different media and formats. For the sake of the site’s usability, I needed a way to classify my projects, but at the same time, I wanted each piece to be considered in relation to my entire body of work. I think the new layout manages to achieve both.

The previous version of the site has been archived and can be found here: http://willychyr.com/archive/2010/

New Initiative

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is making the blog section more like a studio journal, as opposed to simply a news page where I just showcase new work and announce upcoming events. A new weekly initiative I’d like to do is to write about an artist whose work I find to be particularly inspiring. There are two main reasons for this: 1) I’m finding it harder to keep track of the list of these artists in my head, and 2) I’d like to be able to look back at this collection after some time and see if I notice any themes or ideas that these artists have in common, and if I can see them in my own work.

Jonathan Harris

To start off, I’d like the showcase the work of Jonathan Harris, an American contemporary artist. In his own words, he makes “ (mostly) online projects that reimagine how we relate to our machines and to each other”.

One of Harris’s projects, We Feel Fine, is a website which is constantly collecting information from the blogosphere, looking for any sentences that begin with “I feel” or “I am feeling”. Analysis is subsequently performed to determine the mood and emotion of the sentence, while information such as age, gender, location, and weather are also collected.

The end results are displayed as a collection of dots, with their colors and sizes signifying different emotional states. Visiting the website feels like taking the emotional temperature of the internet.

Of all the “new media” works I’ve seen, this is probably my favorite. Not only is the execution of the work beautiful, it originates from an incredible concept. Additionally, it manages to leverage technology to tell stories and evoke emotions in a way that doesn’t feel at all forced or artificial.

Here’s a great talk Harris gave at AIGA last year, which gives a  summary of his work as well as his philosophy on how we should approach and shape technology:  http://www.aiga.org/video-gain-2010-harris/