A set of three art pieces usually hinged and appreciated together.
My computational artwork aims to represent a game engine tech demo, (many developers use these as a way of exhibiting their work). These demos aim to show the highest visual fidelity that they can possibly achieve and are generally an opportunity to show of the the public what the company is capable of through coding and graphics. These demos consist of scenes, which when filled with assets/objects such as trees or furniture, are supposed to represent a live game world that the users can explore.
My artwork consisted of three scenes, hence the name Triptych, which all relate to each other and are ‘hinged’ together through the code. These scenes are landscapes made up of assets such as mountains, planets and stars. This program starts off on scene 1, it will move up to the second scene, then the third on a timer. After the third scene it will reset and play again, with different mountains, planets and colours.
While this art is based on the design in games, it doesn’t only attract those who are interested in video games. I was aiming to create a piece of art that was visually pleasing to anyone. One of the aims was to create a sense of sublime, beauty and wonder, which is why I opted for scenes that involved space and mountains. Landscapes generally spark the feel of awe and astonishment among most people.
In order to make my piece feel as immersive as possible I decided to project my work in a dark room, this would allow for little distractions. I Also added sounds which unfortunately were unable to be used with the program. The users were able to use the mouse to move the scene around, with the intention that they would feel as though they could explore it.
No mans sky is a procedurally generated game that delivers a unique experience for each individual user. The chances that one user will experience the exact same settings as another are slim. This inspired me to adapt my code so that my three scenes would look a little different each time. To do this I imported 9 different mountains, roughly the same length, which would be selected at random to create a slightly different looking scene each time. The gradients I used as the background to create the space and reflections were changed each time the three scenes had looped through. To help create glitches I used sounds to manipulate the size and location of the mountains.
I originally started the code in Processing.js, which created some barricades on what I was trying to achieve. It turns out that processing struggles when a certain amount of images are displayed and manipulated. This caused the program to stutter and the Frame rate to lower, which was unacceptable and would not help my aesthetic vision. The code was adapted to P5JS, which handled a larger amount of images and effects with better overall quality than processing was capable of.
The artist “pynchy” created pieces that used glitches to modify images and create interesting visuals. Some of his work contained polygon like structures to add a 3D element to his work. (Polygons are what objects in games/animations are made from). To see how this would have worked visually for me, I tested how it would look if my images looked like they were constructed of polygons. The end result did not impress me as I would of hoped. The technique looked very rough and distracting, if i wanted to create an image that was nice to look at it would have to be fairly easy on the eye. I felt that filling a scene with images like this would create a scene that looked to messy. I would also be unable to have the meticulous details that the final product has.
A glitch in a game generally means a malfunction in the coding which results in a fault on screen, this could be an out of place object. Glitches for the most part are never a good thing, but there are companies games that use effects and out of place objects to create the illusion of glitches to add the the aesthetic value. Games like Quantum break, Oxenfree do this.
After practicing with polygon style art I decided to simplify my images. I thought the scenes could be made up of different layers that could be moved up and down, uncovering the scene more when layers were moved down. The test image seemed very simplistic and I didn’t feel that the final product would have the level of interactivity or visuals I was hoping for
For my next iteration, I originally wanted these scenes to have a fixed colour scheme, which would have the colours of the mountains
darkest at the front and lightest at the back. This would mean I would have to either import each mountains in a different colour or tint each mountain a different colour. I attempted tinting each mountain but this slowed down the program heavily and sometimes cause it to crash.
I decided to divide each mountain into two layers. The first layer (the back) is solid black, which would be used for tinting. The second layer would be a png, with certain parts of the mountain being transparent, so that you could see the first layer through it. The second layer would always stay the same, while the first layer would be tinted the same colour as the planets and sunset. This would give the illusion of the sunset reflecting off the mountains and see.
Using these colours created a very vibrant scene, which I didn’t feel would suit what i was aiming for, since landscapes are usually very calming. I decided that I would tint display and tint only some of the back layers, and change the colour of layer 2 to black.
To help make these scenes more immersive i added waves sounds to the program. I used the amplitude of the waves to help alter the size and locations of the mountains, this gave of the impression of a glitch. I also played with the pixel density trying to get it to change depending out the amplitude of the sound. Though this looked good at times, it was too distracting when the sound of the waves got too loud.
Some of the images that were used in my project.
I believe that this art work could have been made more interactive with the use of the oculus rift. This device essentially allows the user to wear a small screen around their head, to give the feel that you are literally standing in the gaming world.
Unfortunately, i was unable to use headphones since this started to make the program stutter (for unknown reasons), so i was forced to play sounds from my speaker which wasn’t as immersive as i would have hoped. I has clicking as a main function of the program, allowing the user to click through my scenes, so that they felt they were controlling the program more. Many users felt the need to click aggressively and endlessly during the exhibition, which i was uncomfortable with with. This would also down the program a bit. I altered the code to have the scenes change on a timer instead. While the mountains change with each scene, the scenes get very repetitive, many users enjoyed watching the program several times, but it would have held their attention for longer if the scenes were more random.I will continue working on this project through the summer to create a more accurate representation on what I would like this work to be.