It's no secret for anyone who knows me that I happen to be a long-time MMORPG player, but no game has grabbed my attention as completely as Guild Wars 2 has, due in no small part to the beautiful visuals and the incredible soundtrack. I'm a huge fan of video game music, having been to my share of Zelda and Final Fantasy concerts when they've been in the area.
Today, the ArenaNet folks have shared this amazing performance of excerpts from their Heart of Thorns expansion, performed by the Evergreen Philharmonic, in Issaquah, WA.
What makes this performance extra special is the composition of the orchestra itself: It's composed primarily of high-school students from the Issaquah area.
The Evergreen Philharmonic has been active since 1988 and has been an audition-only orchestra since 1991. Evergreen Philharmonic functions as an honors youth orchestra within the Issaquah School District, and has students from all three Issaquah High Schools. Evergreen has performed in a variety of venues, such as the Washington State Ferries, the University of Washington, the University of British Columbia, Disneyland, and the University of Southern California. The orchestra has also travelled to perform in Paris, London, Quebec and Boston. In May of 2011 Evergreen Philharmonic played at Carnegie Hall, New York.
What happens when you offer Reddit users a large digital canvas and allow each participant to place one pixel, every few minutes, on it? You'd think it would be a mess. But somehow, in 72 hours, the canvas turned into a complex mosaic of flags, symbols, messages, and even a sepia Mona Lisa. This article from sudoscript examines this marvel of massive, remote collaboration.
Three kinds of participants emerged: Creators, Protectors, and Destroyers
The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.
Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.
From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this.
When Place was launched, with no warning, the first users started placing pixels willy-nilly, just to see what they could do. Within minutes, the first sketches appeared on Place. Crude and immature, they resembled cavemen paintings, the work of artists just stretching their wings.
Read the rest
Even from that humble beginning, the Creators quickly saw that the pixels held power, and lots of potential. But working alone, they could only place one pixel every 5 or 10 minutes. Making anything more meaningful would take forever -- if someone didn't mess up their work as they were doing it. To make something bigger, they would have to work together.
It may only be April but if you want to look super cool at the office holiday party this December it is time to get to work! Read the rest
Generative art should ideally retain two disparate levels of perception: the material and visual qualities of a piece of art, and then a creation story or script and the intellectual journey that led to the end result.
The creation story is what's missing in most generative art, especially when it's presented as a representation of nature. Read the rest
Superman always left me cold. Virtually omnipotent, unerringly virtuous, and slightly boring, Superman is capable of rescuing kittens from trees, leaping over buildings with a single bound, and routinely saving the entire planet from certain cataclysm. He always wins. Sure, he was sort of killed once, he's been naughty on occasion (usually due to some form of Kryptonite or an alternate reality), and he certainly has a fascist streak in the current movies, but his most recent controversy is whether he's wearing the red trunks or not. Yawn.
I was always fascinated by the C-squad heroes, the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time group just below Aquaman and Elongated Man in name recognition. Red Tornado, the 1940's heroine who fought crime while wearing a bucket on her head, utilizing only her fists and wit. Mr. Terrific, the Golden Age 'Man of 1000 Talents', who rarely used any of them. Phantom Stranger, a mage with omnipotent powers who was merely a narrator in his own book, generally only appearing in the first and last panels. And then there's The Legion Of Superheroes, whose members included Bouncing Boy, who had the ability to inflate himself and bounce around, Ferro Lad, who could turn himself to solid iron, and Matter Eater Lad, who could eat anything, which inspired the indie rock group Guided By Voices to write a song about him. Don't even get me started on the League Of Substitute Heroes, the minor leaguers with questionable abilities not quite up to snuff to join the Legion.
The League Of Regrettable Superheroes examines the careers of a few of the comic book history's least likely heroes. Read the rest
The Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Snow Queen, is a quick and enjoyable read, made all the more so with printmaker Sanna Annukka’s gorgeous illustrations. You’ll likely recognize the textile designer’s aesthetic from Marimekko and, not surprisingly, many of her illustrations make full use of her bold, geometric patterns through the characters’ dress. Her landscapes look like fabrics, too. A panel that shows a wintry countryside looks like it could be a weaving and I wish I could buy another, a garden in full bloom, by the bolt.
The story itself is not what I had expected. In many ways, the titular character is a minor player. The heroine is a young girl, Gerda, who journeys bravely and earnestly, escaping numerous villains by virtue of her devotion to her young friend and playmate, Kay, who has been lured away by the Snow Queen. Kay first fell victim to the heart-numbing trickery of the devil himself, who had accidentally broken an evil mirror crafted to reflect and amplify only the most wicked and ugly things in the world. When the mirror breaks, pieces “smaller than a grain of sand” are sent flying around the word, one of which sticks in Kay’s eye, and another which pierces and chills his heart. As the Snow Queen further freezes Kay’s heart with a kiss, Gerda braves witches, haunts, thieves, and icy winds to save her friend.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mom who is worn out on Frozen, the Disney smash hit (which refuses to die, despite every parent’s best efforts) that was loosely based on the fairy tale, but I wish that the movie more closely echoed the actual story. Read the rest
My friend and Burning Man campmate Bruce Tomb built the greatest art car I've ever seen: Maria Del Camino, made from the body of a '59 El Camino perforated by thousands of hand-drilled holes, which form a pointillist portrait of Maria, the robot from Metropolis, on the hood; connected via a hydraulic arm to the tanklike body of an industrial grader. Read the rest
Whenever I’m drinking rum, which is fairly often, I imagine myself living in a Shag painting. Josh Agle, better known as Shag is a pop art master. His paintings are highly sought after, and for good reason. The brightly colored scenes of Shriners, swingers, tiki, and the surreal is always evocative and entertaining. I’m lucky enough to have a few prints of his, and dream of one day having my whole house filled with Shag art. This book is the most comprehensive collection I’ve seen, including details about his past, his process, and how his art has changed over the years.
I could, and probably will, spend hours paging through this book, enjoying each one of his paintings, prints, and merch. That’s one thing I love about Shag, is that there always seems to be something new to find in his paintings. It’s also really interesting to see how his work has evolved over the years. From his early days creating album covers, to his most recent utopic scenes, you can really see how his style and tone has changed.
This is a must have for any mid-century obsessive, tiki deviant, or pop art lover. Display it proudly on your coffee table or liquor shelf.
SHAG: The Collected Works by Josh Agle AMMO Books 2017, 192 pages, 9.0 x 0.8 x 12.2 inches, Hardcover $26 Buy on Amazon
Split-Brain Robotics: Harvesting Brain Data for Robotic Mayhem and Enlightenment
An interactive audience participatory performance with two custom built 16’ tall robots, each identical, each controlled by the left and right side brainwaves of audience participants.
A hacked and customized brainwave monitor reads audience participants' right side and left side brainwaves to make the two robots move, collaborate, interact, fight, and even "kiss". Their live streaming brain data runs the two robots! Volunteers’ (your!) thoughts are brought to life through robotic actions.
When they do “correctly” interact, symbolic and metaphoric events will happen, activating, lasers, lights, fog, robotic eye views projections, sounds, chaos.