Archive for the ‘Visual’ Category

The Red Spot Rhythm Section – Worry: Songs of Homan Freed

Worry Album Cover


Worry: Songs of Homan Freed is a collection of songs and journals recently discovered from a future broadcast leaked back in time.  The Red Spot Rhythm Section, along with some special guests, have recreated these temporally homeless songs in this brief retrospective.

N^ The Game

N^ The Game


N^ The Game is an original board game in development, currently in the playtesting phase.  N^ comes out of some thoughts about game design, resources, and geography: N^ is a game where players compete for resources, but they do not dominate or take away one another’s territory.  Don’t worry – there is plenty of deviousness and strategy, and common resources are limited.  In my mind, this represents a close analog to our current geopolitical situation, where major powers are unlikely to risk all out war, but will formulate and reformulate devious plans to capture resources / deny competitors.  The direct cartographic inspiration is the situation at the north pole of our planet (hence the name).  This is a game for 2, 3, 4, or 6 players, and alliances will naturally form and break (heh heh).  This mechanics / play of the game also take some inspiration from cellular automata, particularly Conway’s Game of Life, and the idea of game pieces “surviving” based on certain population criteria.  (There are also certain similarities here with the venerable game of Go.)  As for the winning conditions, there are also ideas operating in this game about cooperation and resources.  The competition is strident, but everyone ends the game with the same pieces and territory as they started with.

N Logo

The single logo

Preparation of the game pieces

Preparation of the game pieces


Update 7/23/2015: Chicago Playtesting




A new board direction, and getting some rule tweaks down.  An interesting iteration.

Update 7/17/2014: Chicago Playtesting

Winning Position from July 17 Playtesting; second iteration

Winning Position from July 17 Playtesting; second iteration

Here’s the winning position from our July 17 playtesting session, working with a 5-player version and some great new rules iterations.  Coming along nicely now, working on the balancing out.


Update 3/24/2014: ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Playtesting N^ at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Playtesting N^ at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee

Had a great time playtesting N^ The Game (among others) at ProtoSpiel Milwaukee this weekend.  We went through a couple of different rules iterations, and overall I was quite pleased with the way the game played out.  Thanks to Scott and Wooz especially for their insightful comments and gameplay, and we had a great time playing their games as well!


BRCA Code Animation

Arts of Courage Fundraiser.  Projected Animation.  Chicago, 2013.

This regenerating bit of code art was originally intended to be a more literal simulation of various rates and statistics among BRCA gene carriers. When doing initial research, however, I was astounded at some of the figures – the relative rarity of this mutation in the general population, and the people in my life who are among those facing this challenge. What does it mean to be selected for a life of vigilance, to contemplate one’s own likely distress? I decided to keep the variables in the piece closer to where my imagination placed them while building it, because to me, that says something as well. The simulation – such as it is – runs independently and differently every iteration, and is so – like one’s own genetics – largely beyond direct control. I find myself watching the various “lives” of the iterations and rooting for them.

View a live demo here.

A still from a run of the BRCA animation

A still from a run of the BRCA animation

Fire In The Belly

Arts of Courage Fundraiser.  Acrylic on Canvas.  Chicago, 2013.

This piece, created for the Arts of Courage Project, tracks in mud and blood, fire in the belly, waste and regeneration.  Sterility and blemish brush up against motion and uncertainty, and a hinted exit points to parts unknown.  This piece allowed me a conversation with myself about the mysteries of illness, particularly those afflicting men.  The heart in the chest of this piece is nestled, but also harried.  In the midst of painting, I was confronted with the fact that the shape of things was strongly evoking negativity, and I thought of trashing it, breaking the canvas.  Then I remembered that courage is the theme of the day, and I rewet my brush and continued painting, pushing solace, ground, and a nestled desire into the painting.  I hope it cries warning and offers comfort and proaction.

Fire In The Belly

Fire In The Belly

Flowering Open

This is an application I wrote in the Processing language to act as a meditative visualizer for my wife during our pre-labor practice and meditation.

After hearing that it can be helpful for a laboring woman to have a point of visual focus and to concentrate on imagery of an opening flower (to help everything open up that needs to), I built this full-screen visualizer to play during our breathing sessions.  We brought it along to the delivery room, but let’s just say anyone who wants to whip out a laptop on a woman in active labor has my sympathy for what follows.

The only controls are: Number keys for speed variation and ESC key to exit out.

Download the Mac version.

PC version available soon.

Fluids – A Vector-Based Particle System

This project began as an exploration into programming for fluid dynamics.  That research acquainted me with the subject of vector fields and how they represent the behavior of fluids and gases.  This thread of investigation led me to the world of cellular automata, including Conway’s beautiful Game of Life.

While this project doesn’t approach the subletly or revelatory power of that fundamental experiment, it does include dozens of discrete particle objects, each following its own destiny through the vector field, becoming affected by what it travels through, by the other particles that it meets along the way, and leaving trails as it veers around.  There’s also a certain amount of intrinsic randomness built into the system, some of which can be adjusted by the performer in real time.

The system is also built to accept an incoming stereo audio signal and adjust the particles based upon the audio feed, which can be run in live through an input or make use of a computer’s built-in mic.

Although this project is a stand-alone app that is meant to run full-screen on a laptop hooked to a projector for a performance, I have a web version available here.  The web version is also able to take incoming audio, and the controls are listed at the right side of the page.  Have fun!

Bride of Acacias

Chopin Theatre. Design / Video / Sound. Chicago, 2006

A whilrwind of a one-woman play, this biographic piece traveled around Iran and to Europe and back, following the life of legendary Iranian film-maker Forough Farrokhzad.

Working with source video brought from Iran by the playwright and my own thematic motion graphics, the designer and I came up with a model that would work both as a scenic backdrop and as a metaphor for a woman who often looked at the world through the barriers of her identity.

{ photos by gretchen werner }

Window Gazing

Glass Curtain Gallery.  Interactive Media Installation. Chicago, 2006.

This piece was created using Director and an EZIO device for the physical sensors, which were activated by touchable objects arrayed before the viewer.  All the video clips were triggered by interactivity with the viewer touching elements arrayed on a sculptural table-window assembly.  The video itself was a rear projection through the assembly using a coated glass preparation on a repurposed window.

Sounds and video clips are grouped into narrative “chapters” telling the story of the loss of a loved one.  The sound and video groups are randomly played depending on what the user touches, so the user is participating in a free-flowing montage of appropriated “memory”.

BiPolar Bear – Rainbarrel

Is it a painting?  A sculpture?  A yard ornament?  A personal reservoir?

All of the above.  It’s the rainbarrel I designed and painted for the Chicago Recycle the Raindrops project, which recruited local artists to paint rainbarrels to promote the city’s rainbarrel program.  So far the barrels have been on display at the Chicago Green Town Conference, the Chicago Conference on Science and Technology, as a backdrop for a Mayoral press conference, and at local businesses.

View the listing for my barrel on the Recycle the Raindrops webpage

Get yourself a rainbarrel!

Educational Development: See-Saw

Part of the Educational Development interactive media installation, this piece was an indoor see-saw that viewers could sit on and activate a multichannel video piece, with video triggers that cascaded between the television that was their partner on the see-saw and a projection that metaphorically highlighted the success/failure dynamic in educational philosophy.

The cycles of both the projection and the televised video clips form a loop of educational agitprop in the mode of sending up typical school behavioral / “motivational” videos.