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Final Reflection

Project Summary

Light Pollution is a serious environmental problem that alters our ecology and our experience of the night sky. Inhabitants of major cities often cannot see more than a few stars. More than just a cosmetic issue, light pollution affects human circadian rhythms and has known health effects. Light pollution has also been shown to interfere with bird migration by diverting them from their normal flight path.

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The History and Vision of the 70's Video Art Movement

During the late 60’s and early 70’s Sony began selling a portable video camera that could be carried and operated by a single person. This new technology offered novel opportunities for ordinary people to record and distribute their own videos. Video camera proponents saw them as a revolutionary tool that could and should be used for the betterment of humankind. This dramatic vision formed on top of the countercultural revolution occurring at the time that saw itself as working to raise human consciousness by fighting against long-held cultural norms of behavior and advocating for the civil rights and antiwar movements. Although the drive to explore video camera technology was to a large extent fueled by the broader countercultural movement, the use and exploration of video cameras also contributed back to the counterculture by being a real tool for change. In time portable video cameras did in fact have a profound influence on the evolution of our culture and that influence only grew as the technology become more ubiquitous and the infrastructure to support its distribution developed into what we know today as the Internet. To a large extent the vision of the early video camera advocates has been realized today but not all of the technology’s effects on our society have been positive. Therefore, there is more work to be done if video recording by ordinary people is to continue to be a positive contribution to the further development of our culture.

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Final Presentation

Yesterday I presented my final project for this class. My presentation consisted of walking through the website I made documenting my research and project outputs: In addition to the interactive light pollution map I went birding and orienteering in an effort to learn more about birds and how they function. "Embodied Knowledge," as Marina said. Both good experiences and for me, new ways of pursuing knowledge about a subject. I see the value of this approach and I'll be looking for similar activities for future projects. My website concludes with a design of a new system that will assist migrating birds and help them avoid the dangers of light polluted areas.

I need to make a few improvements to that website and I'll take care of that in the next few days. Also, a final blog post reflecting on my process, next steps, and a summary of my critique.

Video Art Presentation

For our Redefinition of Art class our main project is a research paper on a subject that we are to also present to the class. For my topic I studied Video Art from the 70's to understand the history of the movement and vision of the medium's proponents. There was a lot for me to learn here and I am glad I picked this topic. I learned a lot about our cultural history and the art world while linking everything together to provide a deeper understanding of both.

My presentation The History and Vision of the 70’s Video Art Movement is available online.

Type on the Move

Our penultimate assignment for this class involves moving or interactive type while also thinking about our final project.

My idea for the final project involves falling snowflakes morphing into letters and forming words. This is an idea that has been percolating in my mind for a few weeks now but faced a critical problem: I didn't know how to properly morph one character into another. I was very happy to see my friend and fellow student Oren Shoham accomplish this last week for his assignment using rune.js and flubber.js.

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Drafts of Final Project Due

Drafts of our final projects are due this week but unfortunately my project is facing serious difficulties. The general idea of what I proposed in last week's post to remap bird migration patterns is terrible. The dataset that I thought existed doesn't exist at all, and even if it did, doing that re-mapping would be complete garbage. For a lot of reasons. When birds migrate they fly within large territories but choose specific flight paths that follow the guidance of the earth's magnetic field and the sun and stars but also adapt to changing wind patterns, weather, and food availability. Trying to force birds to follow a specific route is insanity and if it could be done it would kill lots of birds.

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Font Experiments

For this assignment we experimented with fonts as data using the opentype.js JavaScript library.

I wanted to experiment with perlin noise to make the letters wiggle in a non-repeating manner but periodically return to their normal, unperturbed state. I did this using P5's noise function multiplied by a factor linked to the sin of the frameCount. Periodically this will be equal to zero, effectively turning off the noise. What I like about this is that it distorts the letters in a coordinated fashion that (almost never) makes the letters overlap.

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