Nokia E71: Beautiful Connections

Feb 28, 2009 | Processing / Java, Software, Watz work

Beautiful Connections: Mobile artwork for Nokia E71

Beautiful Connections: Mobile artwork for Nokia E71 (see nokia.co.uk/e71)

I recently had the privilege of being commissioned by Wieden + Kennedy to creating an artwork for Nokia’s new smartphone E71. It’s a new model featuring a full QWERTY keyboard, and is intended to function as a complete communication platform for people on the move. As a response to this purpose, W+K’s campaign focused on the idea of “Beautiful Connections”.

My contribution was a mobile app that allows the user to type in a short SMS-style message, which is then used as the basis for a generative animation that results in a visual compositions of curling forms. The final image can then be sent to other users as a MMS or saved to the phone memory for use as a wallpaper.

Technically it was a challenge to get all the different functions to come together in a single coherent application. The project was developed as a pure J2ME app based loosely on an old version of Mobile Processing. To get a smooth rendering style I chose to use the JSR-226 API for Scalable Vector Graphics, which allowed for properly anti-aliased drawings at the cost of a lower frame rate (approx 7 FPS). Standard J2ME graphics would have given 20 FPS, but the final result would have been less attractive.

All interface elements (menus, text input fields and contact information menu) were built from scratch to avoid the lo-tech feel of the default J2ME UI elements. This required quite a bit of work, but it would have been silly to break the organic feel of the application by using the native phone UI. Instead, the decision was made to make the app feel like a completely upgraded experience. This goal was finally achieved through liberal use of transparent PNGs and old school pixel font trickery.

Beautiful Connections: Animation demo

Visit nokia.co.uk/e71 to see the campaign and download the application (it’s free!) Make sure to also check out the four excellent videos produced by Carl Burgess, Universal Everything, Field and SHFT. To complete the Beautiful Connections concept the web site also features an interactive message generator built in Flash that allows you to create images using live sound and web cam input.

My thanks to the Wieden + Kennedy crew for inviting me to do this project, in particular to Sermad Buni and Louis-Philippe Tremblay for their excellent support. My thanks also to Nokia for having the vision of wanting artworks on their phones. Now, if only Apple would create a category for art on their App Store…

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Conical prints

Feb 1, 2009 | Processing / Java, Watz work

Conical01 0009 Lo

Marius Watz: Conical (prints released on Cronica Electronica)

I just completed a new series called Conical, which was initiated as an artwork for the Cimatics festival but never used. So when Miguel Carvalhais from the Cronica Electronica label asked if I would do a cover for Morten Riis’ Digital Sound Drawings, I was happy to have a chance to bring the project to a good conclusion.

In addition to the cover artwork for the album (released as a downloadable rather than as a physical CD), we are releasing a series of 10 limited Conical prints as part of the Cronica Limited series:

Conical is an investigation of a 3D form composed of lines that trace out segments of multiple cones. Seen at a distance, the form becomes a spatial volume. Zooming in, the sense of volume disappears and the form becomes a 2D surface. The image resolves into a complex pattern of optical interference, without any depth cues to indicate its 3D nature.

The 10 prints are 40×40 cm archival inkjet prints, released as uniques and signed by the artist. The price is a modest €125 per print. You can see all 10 images here.

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Code, Space, Form symposium

Jan 17, 2009 | Processing / Java, Theory, Watz work, Web dev

"Code, Form, Space" symposium 01

Code, Space, Form, February 3-7 at CMU, Pittsburgh

The eminent Golan Levin has just announced a symposium titled “Code, Space, Form”, featuring C.E.B. Reas, MOS Architects, Ben Pell and yours truly. Hosted by Carnegie-Mellon University, it’s a multi-day affair with lectures and workshops, culminating in an exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. It should provide an interesting discussion of the implications of generative strategies in art and architecture.

Here is the info from Golan’s blog, hope to see you there if you’re anywhere within range of Pittsburgh:

I am delighted to announce “Code, Form, Space”, a mini-symposium about generative form and digital fabrication, which will be held at Carnegie Mellon University during the week of February 3-7. Nearly all of the events are completely free and open to the public – and include lecture presentations by such distinguished computational artist/designers as C.E.B. Reas, Marius Watz, Ben Pell, and Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample of MOS Architects. I’m co-directing this event in collaboration with Jeremy Ficca (Professor of Architecture and Director of the CMU Digital Fabrication Lab), the CMU School of Art Lecture Series, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

More information

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Exhibition: ElectroPlastiques

Mar 22, 2008 | News, Processing / Java, Watz work, Workshops

Akron 001 Object #1 Akron 019 Possible series - Grid distortion

ElectroPlastiques: Object #1 / Grid distortion

I have a new exhibition coming up in Akron, Ohio as part of an artist in residence stay at the Myers School of Art. Titled "ElectroPlastiques", it is my first ever solo show. Interesting that it would take a show in the US for that to happen, although not really so surprising given that the European media art scene is geared towards festivals. The exceptions are the few European media artists who have found gallery representation, a process that seems to be going even slower in Europe than in the US.

I’m using this show to highlight some of the existing topics of my work with realtime animation, as well as a new direction dealing with physical output. I will screen a series of my generative animations, such as Neon Organic, ElectroPlastique #1 & #2 and Illuminations A. These pieces explore the plastic qualities of parametric software processes, where a single set of rules gives rise to an infinite sequence of possible configurations. The title of the show is intended to refer to the plasticity of digital media.

As a counter-point, I will be showing manifestations of my work in physical formats, where animation gives way to other qualities. My rapid prototyping pieces Object #1 - #3 and new work like the Grid distortion laser cuts explore the tactile possibilities of digital fabrication, while prints like the Packing series go beyond the limited resolution of the screen to explore issues of graphic detail.

Continued…

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Fabrication @ HyperWerk progress

Feb 27, 2008 | Flickr, Processing / Java, Workshops

We’re making good progress at the HyperWerk digital fabrication workshop, see the new Fabbing @ HyperWerk Flickr group for details.

Hyper0802 201 Martin Fuchs - Polygon form Hyper0802 171 Martin Fuchs - Polygon form Hyper0802 182 Philip Whitfield Hyper0802 003 Martin Fuchs Hyper0802 102 Leander Herzog Hyper0802 095 Martin Fuchs Hyper0802 133 Roland von Tessin

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RhinoScript at MIT IAP

Feb 11, 2008 | AHO, Rhino, Workshops

Danzer tiling

MIT IAP RhinoScript workshop – Danzer Variations

While looking for RhinoScript resources for the Digital Architecture workshop at AHO I found a recent posting of the final projects from a RhinoScript workshop at MIT IAP. It features some very nice-looking work, including the Danzer tile forms shown above. It also provides the source code for most of the experiments, well worth checking out.

The resource page for a previous MIT workshop is still up, it has more scripts and some useful links: Computational Design Solutions Part 1.

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Generator.x 2.0: Public presentations

Jan 23, 2008 | News, Processing / Java, Theory, Workshops

The Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen workshop and exhibition kicks off in Berlin this Thursday. In addition to the workshop there will be two evenings of presentations open to the general public, intended to bring the topics of the workshop to a larger audience.

The presentations will take place at the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, which is also the venue for the workshop. If you’re in Berlin I hope to see you there!

Generator.x 2.0: Presentations #1 – Thu 24 Jan, 19:00 – 21:00

  • Keynote: Marius Watz [NO]
  • Boris Müller [DE]
  • Satoru Sugihara – Morphosis [JP/US]
  • Eno Henze [DE]

Generator.x 2.0: Presentations #2 – Mon 28 Jan, 19:00 – 21:00

  • Aram Bartholl [DE]
  • David Dessens [FR/DE]
  • Tim Schork – MESNE [DE/AUS]
  • Skylar Tibbits – Theverymany [US]

See the Club Transmediale site for a full list of Generator.x 2.0 events. Documentation of the event will be posted on the Generator.x blog and Flickr group as it becomes available.

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Oldskool sketches

Sep 15, 2006 | Flickr

060915_oldskool_sketches1.jpg

Oldskool: Sketches 1994-1998)

I just posted a sequence of old sketches to Flickr, ranging from 1994 to 1998 and showing some of my earliest computational work. Actually, since I never drew or worked visually in any other non-computational way after age 12, it is also some of my earliest visual work of any kind.

While some of the images are deeply mired in the techno aesthetic I was so taken with at that time (after all, I had just turned 20 and these were the 1990′s), others point to the beginning of a generative approach. Some of the basic ideas about form and structure expressed in these pieces are still with me today (see Kugelstudie or Illuminations for proof).

These are some of my favorites:

You can still see these pieces on my Evolutionzone web site as part of the historical section, but that design was done in 1996 and is painful to look at now. Seeing the images on their own in the pristine Flickr interface makes me look at them in a different way. It still feels a bit vulnerable to expose them to public viewing like this, but I figure it’s not a bad thing.

The 3D images were rendered in POV-Ray, my first ever visual tool.

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More PDF: Graphics for NIAF

May 26, 2006 | Processing / Java

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More PDF output examples: Graphics for NIAF

More gratuitous (real-world) examples of how great PDF output is. These are teaser postcards for Norwich International Animation Festival, which will take place in October this year. I am doing a generative piece which will function as identity graphics for the festival. Essentially, a single Processing software will generate a large variety of stills for print use (using PDF), as well as realtime animated trailers to be run ahead of every screening.

See Flickr for my sketches for the NIAF piece, the image over shows the 4 postcards that will go out in the next few weeks. Posters and a catalogue will follow, which I am very excited about. Again, the images show that the new PDF output library gives very high quality for print when using 3D objects.

However, there are a few quirks to PDF:

  • No depth-sorting or intersecting objects. In the NIAF project that proved to be a benefit rather than a setback, as the shapes would sometimes intersect in a visually unattractive way.
  • No pro-vertex shading, i.e. no gradient-filled polygons. In the NIAF piece you can see that I have used multiple polygons with interpolated color. This is not ideal, as it produces banding, but it can be worked into the aesthetic of the piece.
  • No possibilities for using groups or layers, a typical feature of PDF and Illustrator documents. If this could be added it would make it much easier to post-edit the results. Processing uses the free iText PDF library, and I experimented briefly with inserting layers by directly accessing the PDFWriter object, but no luck so far.

Still, PDF output is a god-send for a range of new Processing applications.

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