I recently came back from a one-week visiting artist stay at Florida State University, more specifically at tbe Small Craft Advisory Press. SCAP publishes artist books in low editions, usually by working with visiting artists. I had the pleasure of being invited by Denise Bookwalter and Meg Mitchell, excellent hosts both.
The goal of my stay was to start work on an artist book of my work, using laser cutting to engrave woodblocks for printing. Initial tests were promising, although the laser cutter has some limitations in reproducing smaller vector details. Rasterization tends to smooth out certain features and limits graphic complexity at smaller print sizes.
Modular printing system
My original idea was a modular system with circular print blocks that could be rotated for every run so that each book would be unique. This would mean a lot of work for the printers, however, so we agreed on a small print size of 4×4″. We did extensive tests with promising results, but in the end I decided that the small size just didn’t work. To adjust for the small size I had to reduce complexity to a point where it no longer had the qualities I was looking for.
The revised game plan is to do a book of 8×8″ single-color prints (in an edition of 50). The larger format allows for a much higher complexity, while the reduced color palette emphasises the computational geometry. Four alternating colors will provide variation through the book, and 24 pages should give me plenty of space for experimentation.
The book will be printed over the next few months, I can’t wait to dig into the printing process in more detail. My thanks again to Meg and Denise for the invitation!
I’m excited to announce a new project in a new medium: Arcs04-00 and Arcs04-01 are silkscreened prints for Random Number Multiples, a new division of Random Number curated by Christina Vassallo. The debut release will consist of two prints by Jer Thorp aka blprnt (see his Flickr set) and these two by myself, and will be for sale through Random Number on February 1st.
It might seem ironic to use silk screening as an output for code-based processes, but my reasons for pursuing this medium go beyond mere nostalgia. In my work with physical formats I am always looking trying exploit the inherent nature of the medium at hand, whether it’s CNC milling, 3D printing or inkjet. Silk screening gives a very different print quality from inkjet or 4-color offset, with much richer solid colors. In these prints I’ve explored the use of overprinting to create a graphic effect, and I’m very excited about the results.
The four prints will be released in an edition of 50 and will sell online for $100 each. Random Number Multiples will officially launch February 1st, interested readers should check out the Random Number blog post which also includes information about how to pre-order.
See also my Random Number Multiples Flickr set for more images and process documentation.
As documented in this thread on the Processing forums the TileSaver class seems to be broken for current versions of Processing. Sadly I’m not sure what the problem is and I don’t have time to fix it right now.
However, I tried the original TileSaver code posted back in 2006 and miraculously that still works. This would imply a larger issue with the unlekkerLib library and Processing 1.0, which I’ll have to address when I have the time.
For now, here is a link to a working Processing sketch using the old TileSaver code: TileSaverTest.zip
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.
Horror Vacui: Fear of void, fear of empty space. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Is there really emptiness between the atoms? It is hard to imagine. Who can take comfort in the uncertain world of quantum mechanics? Better to consider strategies for filling vacuum, covering the blank surface with form and structure, and thus conquering it. It might seem extreme. Claustrophobic, even. But there is safety in numbers.
Two-page layout for EASI, a magazine from Porto, Portugal. See the image in high res to see the smaller details.
I’m still not quite done with the Packing series, even though packing algorithms have become a bit of a generative clichee recently. It becomes an issue of whether you’re able to give the image qualities beyond the default result of the algorithm. For now, I still believe that my take on it succeeds in doing so.
Illuminations 1.1 is a new version of the Illuminations piece I created for the AV.06 festival in Newcastle. It has only been shown once, and so it seemed like a good starting point when Jan Rohlf from Club Transmediale asked me to do the graphics for the festival’s printed materials.
First I tweaked the system, changing the color scheme and modifying parameter presets. Then I used Processing’s PDF output to generate one hundred vector originals for free use by the festival designers (Tine Gundelach & Chrish Klose). Daniel Shiffman’s Moviemaker library was used to generate prerendered videos for use on monitors.
Finally the system was updated for realtime projection using a dual-screen setup (2048×768 resolution, OpenGL). The projection setup at Maria am Ostbahnhof is impressive, featuring 12 projectors covering the entire main hall. The piece was shown running for two nights, except when the performing acts had their own video.
See more documentation on Unlekker (including animation) and Flickr.
Update: I’ve finally found the time to write a proper class for this tiling technique. Have a look at aTileSaver.pde.
I’ve been able to generate huge raster files for print use from Processing, using the tiling trick first outlined on the Processing forums by user “surelyyoujest”. Using his code as a base, I got it working with OpenGL and proceeded to output some gigantic files. A quick hack using PImage allowed me to stitch the resulting tiles together in one huge image, which was then saved as a Targa file.
See the picture above for a demo. When viewed at its original size, the left half of this image shows the full picture at 10% (original res 10240 x 7680 px). The right half shows the whited-out section of the left image at 100%. The resolution is staggering.
This should clear the way for doing huge prints, without not having to worry about PDFs not showing 3D correctly (see previous post). I will post sample code for tile-based rendering and stitching as a library when I have time.
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.
Back from OFFF Festival. Just saw that Regine from We make money not art has interviewed Jose Luis de Vicente. Jose Luis is the Spanish media art curator largely responsible for making the Extend workshop happen, as well as establishing such a heavy Processing presence at OFFF this year. Have a read.
The Extend: Advanced Processing Workshop is underway, we are just doing introductions and talking about possible directions.
Here are some links to ways of doing print output from Processing, including PDF, PostScript etc: