RC Pop-up Day 1 - Webcam Feedback

December 05, 2017

“In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” - Douglas R. Hofstadter

Having written a variety of fragment shaders over the last year, one thing that influenced my exploration was the relative difficulty of dealing with external inputs. It’s awkward to get data into the shader, and so most of what I do ends up being constructing what forms I can out of “sterile” math and noise.

This meant that inputing messy live video data for the first time was a really exciting and fruitful well of experiments! Essentially I took every trick I could think of and threw it at the webcam input buffer. It made for a really productive streak of outputs that weren’t necessarily individually planned or designed, but interesting nonetheless. “Trying stuff” can be a good way to find fun things.

If you’re at a computer with a webcam, please check them out!

Online Sketches ^[Sadly not working in Firefox. Let me know if you know why I might be getting this error! Error: WebGL warning: drawArrays: Active texture 0 for target 0x0de1 is 'incomplete', and will be rendered as RGBA(0,0,0,1), as per the GLES 2.0.24 $3.8.2: The dimensions of `level_base` are not all positive.] (My favorites are “scan line” and “smoke”)

I also uploaded some videos to instagram: 1 2 3

The most interesting aspect of these experiments to me was playing with relationships between the live input and input fed back into the shader directly from it’s previous output frame, as well as indirectly by projecting output onto a wall and filming that.

Different approaches to mixing these input streams produce effects that play with motion, simulating echoes, falling, zooming, or spinning. These simple illusions applied to your own face and movements can induce shades of dissociation and distortion of self in a way that I find beautiful and compelling. It’s something that I’d like to come back to with more focus on details and feeling.

There is an extent to which I’m getting bored with flipping through these effects though, and one goal I have for the rest of the week is to be continued to be guided by glitches, mistakes, and iterative discovery, but also to more intentionally seek out meaningful or conceptually interesting territory.

Question for the reader: Is there a word that represents the concept of art being clearly influenced by it’s tools and materials? The analog of painterliness, but not specific to painting.

Git snapshot gallery from the day: