Videos

I had a few Processing sketches that I’ve made and never took the trouble to document or record in some way lying around. So here we go: this is a short video with minimal editing that showcases what I called an Audio-controlled Directional Delayer. You can check the code in my Processing 3.x Github repository.

What it does is to render each frame as a set of rows or columns copied from a specific frame in a 150-frame buffer (or more, if you want). From how far back in that buffer will that row or column be retrieved is mapped to the audio input level. Sometimes a high amplitude will also trigger a mode change (horizontal/vertical).

Here’s another example, using a couple of videos I recorded at the local market. The audio track was hastly assembled from TB Arthur’s free sound library, by the way.

This is an old one, but entirely appropriate, either as a celebration of things done, or as a celebration of what just feels right in times that feel so, so wrong. The Most Satisfying Video in the World, as compiled by Digg editors. Beware that searching for The Most Satisfying Video in the World on YouTube opens a Pandora’s box of endless satisfaction. Do that at your own peril.

Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda is an oldie but goodie. Just earlier I saw this mass of people by a downtown square, all peering into their phones trying to catch Pokémon, like asocial angler fishermen or, if one chooses more terrifying metaphors, like extras in a Black Mirror episode or future Matrix human batteries.

I’m not saying Pokémon Go is a harbinger of the End of Times. Not only there are far better candidates for that, but I also think one shouldn’t actually give a fuck about how others spend their afternoons and choose to enjoy the sunset. Still, I think Pokémon Go highlights just how powerful software developers are and how it’d be perhaps wise to reason about software companies as some kind of Fifth Estate. Just imagine, as I was talking to friends yesterday, if Pokémon Go had some kind of scarcity game mechanic in which rare monsters could only be caught by one player (I actually thought the game worked like that so I wondered aloud why there were no reports of street fights breaking out, among all the news of people crashing into police cars or walking themselves off cliffs).

Thing is, someone may well create such a game. I mean, just watch old concept demos of what became today’s technology, and then look at Microsoft explaining how Augmented Reality assists scientists in exploring Mars, designers in designing motorbikes or dads in playing Minecraft with their kids. And then consider the actual history of the web, from banner ads to ransomware, from Flash to government sites that only work in Internet Explorer 6. And then rewatch Matsuda’s video. Just rewatch it and try to debunk it.

And then ponder whether software should be regulated, like cars or houses or public infrastructure are. Ponder whether such regulation is feasible, or desirable (for it would be the death of general-purpose computer, thus the ultimate authoritarian wet dream). And wonder: are we fucked? Even if we escape authoritarianism, climate change, terrorism, cyberwar (meaning the large scale use of malevolent software)… can we also handle plain ill-considered, misdesigned software?

Things that never cease to amaze: Demoni by Theodore Ushev, in which vynil records are turned into Zoopraxinoscope discs through the syncing of the camera shutter with the record player’s rotation.

Ushev is the author of the incredible Sleepwalker (trailer) I watched at this year’s Cinanima animation film festival (where Demoni had won an award a few years back): as if Oskar Fishinger’s classic films had art by Joan Miró, but in an effortlessly undated way. Nice.

Every August, the Assembly demoparty reminds us the scene is still around, and perhaps reaching larger numbers of people than ever as one can just go and watch demanding demos such as this years’ winner, Monolith by ASD, as streaming YouTube videos captured from the authors’ very high-end rigs, rather than downloading and having a hard time running an executable on an underpowered four-year old laptop such as your humble narrator’s.

Still, there is something that is lost in that ‘video-ization’ of demos: the notion that what one is watching is not pre-rendered CG, but realtime code — mathematics manifesting as audiovisual aesthetics as one watches. So take also a look at the winner of the 1KB Intro competion, BLCK4777* by p01/ribbon: that is one kilobyte of code - that is, 1024 bytes or roughly a quarter of a page of purely unformatted text — making all that stuff happen in your browser. Just wow.

Very funny and very gross, here’s How to Make a Ferrero Rocher (hat tip to Heitor Alvelos). Looking at the HowToBasic YouTube channel’s millions of views, I don’t know how I could have missed this before. 

Like the best jokes, their videos are very unconfortable to watch and I could feel nausea creeping up underneath my laughter (perhaps I am becoming like some of these older gentlemen?). There is something very uncanny about these videos, beyond the wanton waste of what seems like pretty good foodstuffs: even though GoPro videos are nothing new, the POV footage in these reminded me of Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days, and for all the kitchen dada antics I could really start to understand that film’s portrail of first-person recordings as a very addictive drug. Is that the most unnerving thing about these videos, that feeling it is us who made all that mess, like an implanted memory presenting evidence we had no control over what we did?

Vemödalen (the fear that everything has already been done) from John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (via Studio Daily)

While too many forces — most of all family and advertising — try to pass the idea each one of us is special or different and that we should 'express ourselves' or something, it’s always worth reminding that we are not so special. Nobody is; and there is a very real sense of safety in numbers in embracing the possibility of being trite and the clichéd, and in recognizing people similar to us most certainly had the same ideas. This seems like a recipe for conformity, but therein lies the real challenge: not in expressing our (not so) unique selves, but in maintaining critical freedom from the twin desires of fitting in and of being unique.


While we’re on the subject, here’s an amusing scientific paper titled The hipster effect: When anticonformists all look the same (PDF). And so it may be asked, why shouldn’t anticonformists look the same? And why should we care — as long as the anticonformists are true anticonformists?  (via Boing Boing)

Jim Leonard’s (aka Trixter) 8088 Domination, a PC demo that makes use of some neat tricks to display fullscreen color video on a 1981 IBM PC. Keeping in mind that these thirty-three year old machines are orders of magnitude less powerful than today’s electronics, you can see how today’s software is incredibly bloated stuff built atop piles upon piles of abstraction.

If three decades later someone can figure out how to display video using a modest early model PC, what kind of applications will someone build, three decades hence, extracting every bit of capability from today’s computers bare metal?