low-level generative art


On Nasty Nets in '06, Marisa Olson linked to the generator page where the above was made. Her error message read "In the future, all web sites will be generators." Jon Williams questioned that prediction recently on twitter in light of Zynga style games where you don't do much generating but use pre-set character templates.

It's like the devolution of model kits from elaborate balsawood parts that had to be cut with a knife to 1960s glue-and-paint kits with hundreds of plastic elements on trees to the kits of the '70s and '80s consisting of a handful of snap-together parts. Ultimately, though, it's just degrees of lack-of-choice. Even 3D and paint programs that yield elaborate personalized results start with someone else's menus.

Am prejudiced against all of it from years of making unique, quirky objects that a handful of people might theoretically view together in real space but am trying to overcome this. Snobbery is what artists have in lieu of barrels of cash (or Simoleons).

Generators haven't gone away: see downfall generator (hat tip Jon Williams).

Update: Also via Jon, the Generator Blog, where you can Warholize and Jesufy yourself, or make fake iPhone text, or spew loren ipsum consisting entirely of hipsterspeak (some popular art blogs use this). In view of all this variety the next stage will be a generator generator, if one doesn't exist already.

Verbal Animation for the Takedown Era

Æon Flux, "Tide" (November 17, 1992)
The description below was written by Jason Forrest* for Network Awesome.
Chances are you won't find the animation on NA or YouTube because a certain youth-market producer is playing its little games (when they're not allegedly uploading videos under aliases to give them promotional exposure, they're in outraged copyrightholder mode, which appears to the case with NA's upload of "Tide").
But I like the idea of complicated narrative being a substitute for a complicated animation when the original is apt to disappear without warning. So this is a found text or art-equivalent.

Peter Chung states on the DVD commentary that he planned this episode like a piece of music. The entire segment is composed of twenty backgrounds shown for two seconds each in the same order and same angle for seven cycles. [The elevator in a modern industrial building becomes a stage set moving down among floors, with a series of more or less identical actions occurring on each level. The ritual aspect of these repeated actions also suggests a kind of high-tech, absurdist Noh play. --TM]

The plot:
Æon and a blond female accomplice are on an offshore platform. Æon is shooting at a rope draped from a hovering helicopter, trying to keep it from connecting with a semi-submerged pylon, while her partner holds Trevor Goodchild captive in a nearby elevator. As Æon returns to the elevator Trevor has overpowered the partner and attempts to exit, pressing all of the elevator's level buttons. Æon stops him and tries to grab the numbered key he's holding, but he throws it behind a sink. When retrieving it, Æon accidentally rips off the attached numbered label, so it is unknown on which level the key will be useful.

The elevator descends. Æon attempts unsuccessfully to use the key in a storage locker on level six, while avoiding gunfire from a Breen soldier and again shooting at the hanging rope, which has stopped swaying enough for another attempt to reach the pylon. Upon returning to the elevator, Æon handcuffs Trevor to a handrail and attempts to retrieve the numbered key-label, but it is just out of her reach. Æon repeats the leave elevator/exchange gunfire with Breen/try key/shoot rope/return to elevator cycle for several subsequent floors, while her traitorous partner smooches with Trevor during Æon's absences. By level two, Æon realizes what's going on and the partner tries to stop her from killing Trevor; during the struggle she snatches Æon's empty gun and throws it at her. Æon falls back, strikes her head and is killed (although it is not explicitly indicated in the episode that she is dead, the DVD commentary indicates that she is).** The partner takes the key and runs to the level two storage locker. The Breen soldier enters the elevator and shoots Trevor, and on his way out shoots the helicopter rope just as Æon had been doing. (We'll soon find out why.)

The partner opens the storage locker with the key and retrieves a latched yellow case, taking it back to the elevator. Inside she finds a giant, ribbed rubber plug -- an obvious double entendre. Unsatisfied with what seems like such a measly prize, she runs out leaving the plug behind. As she reaches the semi-submerged pylon, the helicopter has successfully inserted the rope, weighted with a metal device that interlocks with the pylon, and starts to pull up and away, carrying the Breen soldier who has come downstairs just as the device lifts upward (his shot from level two bought him a few seconds of needed time to arrive). As the helicopter ascends, it yanks from the pylon a rubber plug identical to the one the partner previously discarded, causing seawater to spout out of the newly vacant hole. The enormous platform and gangway behind her suddenly sink into the ocean, leaving her stranded alone on the concrete pylon.

*I made some edits for clarity, style--call it a remix
**Æon dies in all the early, short episodes.

"Nano Crunchy"

"Nano Crunchy" [3.2 MB .mp3]

This starts with a sad, chromatic-ish nursery tune and goes all Black Dog about halfway through.
I avoided the urge to add drums or percussion -- that might happen later.
The scratchy, nano crunchy sounds at the middle and end are supposed to be a feature, not a bug.
#fm #wavetable