Posts Tagged ‘interactive audio’

Aleph Null

I’ve just completed my first JavaScript work using the new HTML 5 canvas tag. It’s called Aleph Null. It’s a generative, interactive work of visual art. It launches on from NYC.

Aleph Null is best viewed by the light of a full moon. Or near full moon. Same with the set of stills I made. I mean they do like a bit of darkness.

If you’re using a PC, I’d recommend Chrome to view Aleph Null. At least on my machine, Chrome provides the smoothest performance. Firefox provides a similarly high framerate, but is a bit jerky from time to time. Internet Explorer kind of sucks. On the Mac, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari seem to be fine.

Some HTML 5 Works

I’ve been seriously trying to learn JavaScript, CSS, the DOM (document object model) and jQuery recently, hopefully toward the production of some HTML 5 art thangs down the road. It’s going fairly well. Anyway, I’ve also been looking at work people are doing with HTML 5. The best site I’ve come across so far that posts links to HTML 5 work is There’s considerable dreck here, of course, but there are a few pieces worth looking at.

HTML 5 has been publicized as an open source replacement for Adobe’s proprietary Flash. In truth, HTML 5 is far less featureful than Flash concerning audio, video, imaging, text and much else. And there are currently no tools available for non-programmers to work comfortably in HTML 5. It will take HTML 6 or 7, which will be some years, perhaps a decade, for HTML to approach the current featurefulness of Flash. But it’s coming along.

The most notable thing about HTML 5 is the <canvas> tag, which provides the ability to do interesting graphical operations. There are various programmerly commands available to draw stuff. HTML 5 also introduces a few audio commands, but nothing with the sophistication of Flash’s audio capabilities.

What we’re going to do is have a look at four recent pieces that use HTML 5 in interesting ways. And that work. Yes, some HTML 5 works. When new programming possibilities are introduced to a mass audience, you can bet there’s going to be more than a few blue screens. I’ve only had one today looking at new HTML 5 work. But not from any of the below pieces. These pieces ran well and were very rewarding to view.

The most interesting one, from an artistic perspective, is Arcade Fire’s interactive music video of their song “We Used to Wait” from their album The Suburbs, which won the Grammy for album of the year in 2011. The HTML 5 piece is called The Wilderness Downtown . This is quite impressive, really, both from a technical and artistic point of view. And it goes along perfectly with the suburbs, if that’s where you’re from. I’ve seen online videos that use multiple browser windows for video before, such as in the work of Peter Horvath, but The Wilderness Downtown is also quite sophisticated in other ways. The programmed birds, for instance, and the way they move between windows. And alight on what you have drawn in the interactive writing piece. And the way they use Google Earth. Very strong work indeed. And, o yes, the music is pretty darn good too. Moreover, the touches I’ve mentioned are not gratuitous wiz bang programming effects, but tie into a vision of the suburban experience that Arcade Fire has developed so very beautifully.

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On Pulsate by Andre Michelle

From 'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

I find Andre Michelle’s (Flash)  interactive audio piece called Pulsate quite interesting. I won’t describe it (very much) because it’s online and you can check it out for yourself. Writing about works you can check out online is different from writing about works you can’t check out so easily yourself. Overly descriptive writing about such pieces avoids the harder and more interesting task of saying something about the piece that isn’t obvious.

This paragraph contains  all the description that’s required. Click to create a circle. Press the space bar to start from scratch. A circle  grows in size until it kisses another expanding circle; a note is played; then the two circles both begin to shrink in size. They shrink until they disappear; then they grow again.

Pulsate is a generative work. That is, the audio is generated by the program depending on what you, the user/player, do. And it’s quite interestingly compositional, really. The compositional paradigm is dynamically visual and geometric. Very simple. But intriguingly puddle cosmic and charming. Looking at puddles in the rain is a kind of quotidian cosmic contemplation. Expanding circles intersecting. Ripples of what is and what seems and distortions of the image accordingly. Pulsate nods in the direction of rainy puddle lovers and geometers.

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