space magic

Some of my artist friends at work were talking about doing an art challenge to the theme, space travel back around November of 2015.  I'm not the kind of artist who usually works to a specific theme, but for this one I could see how it might work out.  

The title space magic came to mind instantly. It's inspired by the great times we had playing games together under that clan name.  I love my blue warlock robot unicorn and our adventures in the game world we helped create.  Many of these fine friends of mine would be showing art there too, so it was definitely time to throw down and represent to the fullest.


The show date for the art challenge was set to Friday, January 15, 2016 at the Eastside Artist Collaborative.  This seemed like a fine occasion to combine some of my recent math animation sketches into a new mix using the Leap Motion controller.  I immediately set out to hook up controls for the position and rotation of the 5 platonic solids driven by my hands in mid air.





early tests


Getting a new idea working is the greatest moment ever.  I was sitting in the passenger seat as we drove to cut our Christmas tree when I had my eureka moment.  The blue images above are from that excellent mobile session.  

Next, I put a simple alpha test shader with wireframe texture on the platonic solids.  The designs started taking on a new characteristic with the thin, sinuous dashed lines in the set of images below.  


phase space rotations

These patterns are made by narrowing the camera clip planes to a thin slice positioned at the center of the object.  When I turn off background refresh and rotate the object around it leaves a trail plotting out the intersection with the central plane.  The resulting moire patterns blew my mind.  A happy accident that quickly became my main focus of development.  

In addition, I hooked up the left hand rotations to drive the color of depth fog and that really brought it to life.  I like how the changing of colors encodes the passing of time.  It's like watching an animation play out within in a still image.

I experimented with many different combinations of controls mapped to the different axes of translation and rotation on my Leap Motion controlled hands.  Finally, I arrived at a control scheme that is described below.  But as I was figuring it out I produced these experiments in the next set of images. 

These designs were made using an old codebase that no longer exists in that form, so there won't be any more quite like them ever again.  That's why I grab lots of screenshots as I go.



I kept discovering new geometric patterns emerging from within the platonic solids.  By mapping their rotations in phase space I began to see new shapes take form that appeared to be dense with their own language of form and data.  I'd like to hear what Georgio Tsukalos would have to say about these.  


space magic triptych

As the code came together feature by feature the style of images began to take on a distinct look.  I focused my search for three images to print as a triptych for the gallery show.


It was hard to pick just three to print.  I had hundreds of screenshots to sort through and the constant temptation to make more.  Many nights were spent exploring the shapes that were emerging, searching for the perfect screenshot.  The session above is when I produced the set of three that I printed and hung in the gallery.  


The set of images above remind me of loot engrams.  I wanted to print a second triptych with some of these, but it was starting to become costly and time was running out.  Next time!


Here are the three images I finally printed and hung up in the gallery as a triptych.



warlock labs


Warlock Labs, January 8, 2016

Meanwhile, my buddy Scott Faulkner who runs the Warlock Labs art studio announced his call for art in the Greenwood Second Fridays Art Walk.  He set the theme to Believe: an X-Files Art Show in anticipation of the re-release of one of his favorite TV shows.

It was a bit of a stretch for my space magic art to fit this theme.  Scott is awesome and he was cool with me hanging some prints anyway.  With two gallery shows lined up for the first month, 2016 is already shaping up to be a good year!  





eastside artist collaborative (EAC)

The art challenge show at EAC was one week after the Warlock Labs show.  With the time remaining I set up a live, interactive installation where people could try out space magic themselves.  I printed these instructions for how to use the Leap Motion controller.  

The final control scheme worked as follows:

Right hand wrist orientation controls the direction and amount of rotation applied to the platonic solid shapes.  Translation of the right hand is directly mapped to control position of the shape.  When the right hand pinch gesture is detected the controls change: wrist orientation is now a throttle for translation in the forward and lateral directions. 

Left hand wrist orientation controls fog color.  X, Y and Z are mapped to R, G and B.  When pinching, clip plane slicing with overdraw is activated.  This is what creates the thin dashed lines as the cross section renders the object while rotating around.  


I picked up a bluetooth number pad so I could map a few extra controls.  I printed custom labels for the keys so the people trying it out at the gallery could know how it works.  The middle buttons switch between the 5 platonic solids.

tear it up

tear it up

I mapped a few extra controls on the other buttons.  Most of them were pretty obvious, reset the scene, scale larger/smaller, take screenshot.  This one deserves a bit of explanation:  The "Tear It Up" button translates the entire scene about 5e11 (five hundred billion) units.  This introduces a massive amount of floating point error, causing the fractals to thrash around in a violent seizure.




Here are some shots of my friends and fellow artists trying out the space magic installation during the showing at the Eastside Artist Collaborative studio space.

EAC, January 15, 2016

That's my buddy Zeke Garcia in the iconic selfie by my prints.  He is a fellow game industry artist and the most prolific painter I have ever known.  His solo exhibition is here Romantic Impressions.

Zeke purchased the middle print and and then my coworker and friend Ryan picked up the top one.  Thanks for the encouragement fellas!  I will apply this inspiration to my forward velocity.



Here are some of the images created by people at the show...



There is a secret button combo I programmed into the number pad controls.  When the two buttons beside the Tetrahedron are pressed simultaneously it turns on overdraw:  camera.clearFlags = CameraClearFlags.Depth;  I unleashed this madness when the bass drops at about 03:06 in this excellent song:


Here are some screenshots of what that looked like captured live at the event itself.