Afnan Fahim

16 Jan 2014

While looking forward to NMA&D, I explored vimeo videos (partially because I wanted to watch high-res videos with entrancing background music, they set the mood!). I am familiar with processing so this is the first tag I looked for during my search. Later on I found out how powerful openFrameworks is and then searched it as well on vimeo. I came across many beautiful projects, and here are three.

LAIKA – A dynamic Typeface

Built using: Processing

This project surprised me. LAIKA is a dynamic typeface in which different characteristics like boldness, italicizeness (if that’s a word) and serrif / sans serrif can be analogously and dynamically varied. After having seen the dynamic typography in today’s class, I didn’t expect something very different in this project, but was held in shock and bewilderment when I saw the applications of the typeface. The team who created it installed words in this dynamic typeface in different public areas and using either camera or motion sensors they detect and dynamically alter the typeface of the text in congruence with the motion of the motion of passers by in the streets. I wasn’t inspired by the computational complexity but by the impact that such dynamic fonts can have in the public. Suddenly, sign boards can now become interactive and this led me to think how much more informative and meaningful information could now become simply by allowing people to play with text. The project does miss out on some opportunities. It could be more engaging if it employed colors, altered the curves of the letters and delved into weird fonts like the ones with squiggly lines or those written like human writing. With such elements the fonts would come more real rather than looking like standard fonts that people type on computers with. Another thing the project lacks in is the possible alteration hand gestures can make to the font. Right now the fonts just change in boldness or tiltidness. They could have made them more playful by allowing the font to change in shape or form. What they really achieved well however is the potential public impact and the interaction workflow. Letters change but as soon as the user leave proximity they snap back to their original shapes. This gives the user an impression that whatever they do isn’t deconstructive. Since this work is a thesis, I didn’t actually come across prior work. It appears dynamic typography traces its roots to kinetic typography, the idea behind which is that if text moves around on a screen people are more likely to get engaged in it and understand it.

Starry Night

Built using: openFrameworks

This is a project I really admire. It is a rendition of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, with a take of interactive arts and media. The artist brings the van gogh paintings to life by making the strokes move along paths that they naturally seem to be taking. It looks beautiful. In addition, the author has made the paintings interactive too by allowing the user to play with the strokes. The user can use their fingers to disturb the strokes that are in the painting. This level of interactivity into such a popular painting really brings it to life and allows the user to interact and play with the strokes that the author brushed many decades ago. The only critique I have of the project is that it shows a bright light everywhere the user touches the screen. This sort of bars the user from looking at exactly how the strokes are being disturbed by the user’s finger motion. Also, the artist tried to make the sound respond to the flow of the strokes but since there is always sound in the background, it is hard to tell the background sound apart from the sound that the stroke change is making.

Pulse Mirror

Build using: Processing and Arduino

This is a project that disappointed me. The creators have made an interactive display which superimposes their video feed with patterns and colors to make it look interesting. The users can touch a box and it records their pulse. After some time it shows the pulse rate of the user in an obscure animation. I feel this project had a lot of potential of making an ordinary job so interactive and fun. We perform such actions often, like checking our weight, measuring our height, or checking our pulse. If these actions could be accompanied with user friendly and interactive visuals, the waiting process could be less frustrating and more engaging. However I think the creators missed out on opportunities to achieve that. The pulse information is really tiny and impossible to read. Also, it doesn’t give the user more information apart from just the pulse. In addition, I believe the interactivity could be richer had the author allowed the users to touch the screen and interact with the circles while waiting for the pulse to be measured. In terms of prior work – I believe the artist was inspired to create this after looking at the code released to detect and measure pulse using Arduino. The artist probably wanted to make this mundane task more exciting. Which did happen, but unfortunately, only with some missed opportunity.