Archive for May, 2010

How it feels

At this point (in learning Flash), it feels like each word I write requires a day of research. And, even then, the pace may not even be one word per day. Letters begin to appear bigger than they may be.

I wonder when the pace is going to pick up at all. Or am I going to fiddle and fart with this in a stuporous cloud of befuddlement till I die? Is it time to give up?

Wouldn’t it be great if I had a neighbour who knew Flash? Ha. Not likely. I’m kind of on my own on this. There are only certain types of questions you can ask on the Internet. Some questions just depend on too many other things to be easily answerable in a net forum.

I got a little bit of work done today, but so much time spent just confused. I hate this stage in learning stuff. But it does pass. Like a flu.

Typographic Animation Software

Obx labs at Concordia U in Montréal, which is directed by the poet-programmer Jason Lewis, has released some interesting typographic still and animation software.

Beardsley-g by Anna Oguienko, made with Mr. Softie

Beardsley-g by Anna Oguienko, made with Mr. Softie

One of the programs, which is freely downloadable (Windows only), is called Mr. Softie. The gallery of stills and videos produced with the sotware is rather impressive. The gallery has some stylistic range to it;  the tool has considerable range in the look of the type of things it can produce.

The other software they’ve released is called NextText which they describe thus:

NextText for Processing is a port of the library for the Processing development environment. Keeping in mind the goals of  Processing, the library includes greatly simplified syntax and allows the creation of interesting sketches with very few lines of code.   And for programmers who want to push the envelope further, all functionality of the Java version of the library is maintained, so it is still possible to create intricate and more complex applications.

They documentation that I looked at seems quite good–which you might hope for when the projects so centrally involve writers!

It’s great to see an interesting, programmerly project in digital writing in a Canadian University. This ain’t yer auntie’s Canlit.

Explorations in Audio

After 11 years of using the Director multimedia tool to create pieces such as dbCinema, Jig Sound, Arteroids, Nio, A Pen, On Lionel Kearns, War Pigs, F8MW9, The Idea of Order at Key West Re-Ordered, and Oppen Do Down, I’m attempting a major bit of re-tooling to Flash.

I’m interested in the audio capabilities of Flash. And I’m interested in the visual processing possibs of Flash. But in this post, I’ll show you why I’m interested in the audio capabilities of Flash. There’s some interesting work going on in Flash audio. Not too much actual art, at this point, that utilizes Flash’s new audio capabilities–by anyone. But there are some Flash pieces on the net that show some of the capabilities and poetential of the new Flash audio features. When you look/listen to these pieces, you’ll have to use your imagination to conceive of the artistic possibilities before you.

Flash now provides granular access to audio. Down to the level of the sample itself. This is unto audio what visual access down to the level of the pixel is to visual processing. It makes it possible to generate sounds and to process sounds.  One can create audio dynamically.

Also, Flash provides such granular access concerning audio from the microphone, as well as concerning mp3 files and sound playing in the computer.  The microphone possibs are interesting to me. One can make performance instruments, for instance. So that a person can rant and rave into the microphone and that audio is both processed, real-time, into whatever and, also, Flash responds visually to the audio.

Visual response to microphone input

Visual response to mic input

We can see this capability in . This piece requires Flash Player 10.1 or later–10.1 is not released yet, as of this writing, but there is a ‘candidate release’ available which you need to install if you want to view/hear this piece. In any case, what happens in the piece is you vocalize into your microphone and the piece reacts visually. We can imagine works where the visual response to microphone vocalizing is considerably more interesting and funkier.

We can also imagine the mic audio being processed, real-time, during the vocalizing, which brings us to the next couple of links.

There’s a Singapore group developing things such as which lets you select an mp3 file from your computer, plays it, and lets you change the speed of the audio independent of the pitch, and lets you change the pitch independent of the speed.

Another demo by is at . This lets you choose an mp3 and then play it backwards or reverse it or apply a filter to it.

Another interesting demo–this one by Adobe–is at . This demo shows various Flash processing features, if you click where it says “FEATURES” on the left. Then click “Dynamic Sound Generation”. Then click “Guitar Rock” and select “Generated Sound”. This plays a basic tone and, as you move the mouse around, the tone changes. This demo shows how you can generate dynamic audio in Flash.

'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

'Pulsate' by Andre Michelle

The main Flash audio Guru seems to be a Belgian developer named Andre Michelle. You can see lots of his demos at . He is the lead developer of , which is the most sophisticated audio tool on the net. And it’s developed with Flash. There are tutorials on how to use the ‘audiotool’ app at .

I’ve also been reading a great deal about Flash audio. By Googling key ActionScript terms and going to, mainly, blog entries where techniques are discussed.

I’m progressing very slowly at this stuff. Learning this sort of stuff, I find that for the first several months my speed is excruciatingly slow. Really painfully slow. It hurts. Ouch. My brain. It takes me a day sometimes to figure out what to do next and then another day to face the cortical pain of doing it. Either that or I am a lazy whining dog. OK I’m a lazy dog. But–and this is my only saving grace–if I am a lazy dog, I am also like a dog with a bone when it comes to learning this stuff. I don’t give up.

Finally, here is a page of annotated links I put together concerning interactive audio art works on the net. These are in a variety of technologies, not just Flash. There are also links, toward the bottom of the page, to writings about interactive audio, and links to videos about offline work. And here are all the interactive audio art works I’ve made, so far.

What is Netartery?

netarteryintroI’ve been participating in , a group blog started by Jason Nelson. I’ve been posting regularly to that group blog concerned with ‘electronic literature’ and ‘digital poetry’ and so on–I hardly know what to call it anymore.

I thought it might be interesting to start up a group blog myself. But on what topic? And with who in the group? The latter was easier to come to grips with than the former. I would invite the artists I’m in touch with and whose work I enjoy, and the scholars and programmers I admire, and so on. But what is the topic? The artists and scholars I am interested in, well, there is no commonality to their work except that I like their work.

And my own work is not really in any one category, either. Much of my work has a literary dimension to it but dbCinema is mainly interactive visual work and Jig-Sound is interactive audio.

After I sent out the invitations to participate, it turned out that those who responded with interest are writers who are writing in very unusual ways.

Individually, they’re  involved in various arts. And various media. And various technologies.

Netartery will be a group blog by a diverse collection of (mostly media) artists and thinkers, scholars, programmers, and whatnot, almost all of whom are, fundamentally, literary in their modus operandi. The idea is to keep one another informed of our own new work and new work by others we feel deserves comment. And to post on other interesting topics. And to respond to one another’s posts, if we feel like it.