cat bounce pool

I created cat bounce pool after seeing . In cat-bounce you can click a button to make it rain cats and I thought it’d be cool to increase the number of cats after it rains.  When I checked the source it was Flash, so I couldn’t see the code.  Time to make it in javascript.

I remembered a piece by mr. doob with bouncing balls, so I took that code and replaced the ball SVG with an SVG of a cat.  So cat bounce + ball pool = cat bounce pool. It’s a really simple hack, but I love how easy it can be to make these mash-ups when the code is open.

You can check out the code for cat bounce pool on Github, and here you can play with cat bounce pool. Click around to add cats.  Shake the browser to send them bouncing around off the sides.

LISTENER installed in Boston

We finished installing LISTENER yesterday.  If you’re in Boston over the next few months swing over to the Fort Point area. Its close to the Children’s Museum, by the giant Hood milk bottle.

It visualizes the ambient sounds in a city. You can yell at it too, and it will respond with wild colors. Yell louder, and it will respond with greater intensity.

It is a combination of data visualization, interactivity, and play within public art.

LISTENER Quick Look from New American Public Art on Vimeo.

NAPA Public art in Chapel Hill Sculpture Visions 2012-2013

New American Public Art received a commission to present a piece as part of the Sculpture Visions public art exhibit in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. During the last couple months, we built a metal version of Thought Follows Action, and last week Bevan and Dan went to NC to install it. The piece will be up from now until July 2013. Below is a recording of the piece.

Thought Follows Action – Chapel Hill, North Carolina from New American Public Art on Vimeo.

You can see a previous version of this piece, made out of wood, presented in front of the Somerville Armory for TEDxSomerville.

Light Card

Laser cutting generative design and typography

I designed a card to be in the Museum of Pocket art ALL BUSINESS ALL THE TIME show. I used Processing to design the card, and then I laser cut the pattern in acrylic.

To produce the design I first I set the text centered within a rectangle. I drew points around the perimeter of the letters and additional points were placed within the rectangle randomly, with a higher probability of a point placed closer to the letter points. The added points repelled each other briefly, and then all of the points were triangulated. The text emerged from the density of triangles.


update (october 28th, 2012):

This is a project from 2010, but was recently blogged on NOTCOT so I thought I’d include a few more details.  You can see several iteration of the piece in the first blog post of this site.  You can see among the variations that I began with the Delaunay triangulation, and placed text over it.  Here is an example:

I was working on this after TAing a class taught by Jesse of Nervous System.  He suggested I think of a way to integrate the letters with the underlying pattern.  Hence I began to look into extracting points from the text, and using those points in the triangulation.  If you take a look at the code, you’ll notice I use the geomerative library to do the font analysis.  Here is a later iteration:

You can see the letters emerging from the intersecting lines, but still quite hard to read- especially the web address.  I soon removed the address.  It kind of highlights the question of whether or not it is still a business card, but I liked the idea of removing references to myself in it and focusing on the connection, the us.

I created a ton of variations of this design using the Processing code I wrote above, changing parameters to affect the number of points and spacing of points, until I found a design I liked. Finally, I created a PDF based on this image (I believe it is the one below), and used that with the laser cutter.



Interactive LED grid for two people

I constructed an 8×8 programmable LED grid with two blow sensors. When blowing the left sensor, ‘particles’ would move from the left to right. When blowing the right sensor, ‘particles’ would move from the right to left. When these particles collided, they created a seed for Conway’s Game of Life. The piece encouraged not only interactivity with itself, but between people.

The piece was displayed at the Pozen Center at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

dancey dots

I started playing with the Web Audio API a couple days ago and was kind of amazed at how it has a built in square  and sawtooth wave.  Its kind of awesome the thought that went into creating this API- it feels like it was built for sound design/ electronic instrument enthusiasts.

Fresh with some nodejs socketio experience after geostreaming olympics I decided to combine the two and make a collective browser synth.  This has been kind of a dream of mine for a while. I decided to go with something minimal, that would emphasize interpersonal interactions through the app.  Immediately I thought of drone synths moving in and out of phase.

You can play with dancey-dots here. Share the URL with a friend to bring them into the session as well.  It will update in real time based on what they are doing.  Yes- a collective browser synth :)

You can check out the code on github here.   I did some tests today and the app did not scale as much as I’d like.  There may be optimizations I can make on the synth side, or the socketio messaging side, but if you have insights on either I’m excited to hear them- or see them! fork the code.

It is amazing to see what is possible now with node and socketio in terms of real time web interactivity. I love interactive art between multiple people, so the most joyful thing for me has been to see how people use this, how languages form, and we can form little games together from gestures.

It is also pretty wild playing with someone else here anonymously. You’ll find a lot of personality can be embedded in a dot that makes sounds.

geostreaming olympics

What are people thinking about the olympics right now, and throughout the world? It is truly an event that brings people all around the world together.

Last weekend I decided to refactor an older project I did- real time geolocated tweets – to something relevant to right now: the olympics.   A few weeks after I posted the twitter mapping project, I found a similar twitter mapping app with a beautiful implementation using the nodejs twitter framework Tuiter and socketio.

I rewrote the backend using Tuiter, and hooked it into the frontend, which used Leafletjs.  You can check out the app here:  The app queries the Twitter API for geolocated tweets and displays the ones that contain “olympics”.  After a few seconds you should see tweets populating the map as they come in.

While working on the app I was trying to figure out the best way to display time.  It was a bit confusing since the tweets were all GMT and sometimes the js Date() could not properly parse it, producing an “Invalid Date” output, so in the end I scrapped that UI element .  During that process I came across this:

which I thought was pretty funny. Below are more pics:


I like this application design, which I pulled from the Tuiter example.  In the background the Twitter stream is always running.  Opening the website opens up a websocket to receive the streaming tweets- so no need for unique calls triggered on the client side.  This simplifies any issues related to rate limiting.  The app is deployed on Heroku, which was surprisingly fast to get up and running.

Neodya II Thoughts post Figment


This past weekend was Figment Boston on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.  I presented a piece of interactive public art there called Neodya II with New American Public Art.

I am amazed at the reception of the piece.  I knew it would be engaging, especially after showing it at the Artisan’s Asylum during Somerville Open Studios, but I did not consider quite the scale of participation we received during the festival.  The range was wonderful – from infants, just over a year old, to elders well in their 80s. We saw how the piece encouraged play from a wide range of people and groups- from people coming alone, to couples, to families.


The piece itself is a giant blue planet with a strong magnetic field, allowing for the construction of cities without any adhesives.  We provided buckets of smooth hematite, of ball bearings, metal dowels, and other metal pieces to build with.  Over the course of the weekend civilizations grew and fell, cities rose and collapsed.  A friend of ours even surprised us with a Godzilla action figure with magnets bonded to its feet.  This was definitely a hit.

It was interesting to see the different geometries encouraged by the pieces, from the clusters of towers from the metal dowels, to the long sweeping fields of hematite.

Throughout the weekend I was asked several times the inspiration of the piece.  New American Public Art values art that is public (free and accessible) and interactive.  We’ve explored several modes of interactivity in the process of our projects, and one of the ideas that led to this piece was that of generative construction.

Magnets themselves are very familiar to many- people have used them before, and can easily explore with them.  We used that as the medium for generative construction.  The planet itself was a metaphorical dinner table- an object people could gather around and share upon.  We wanted multiple points of entry all around, so this geometry made sense.  You could observe easily what others were doing and construct things together.  The piece also allowed for varying degrees of participation- small additions could be made to pre-existing structures, or completely new structures could be built.  From observing people playing with the piece, it was the immediate accessibility, as well as the range of possible interactions that allowed for so many types of engaging experiences.

Listen to an interview and see Neodya II on vojo here, the last two images in this post were pulled from there.

introducing: right now all around

site example image

right now all around is a way to view recent public instagram posts, with the option to retweet posts you like.  It’s kind of a mash up of elements of twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.

There is no filtering of the posts, it is just a sample of all the images posted most recently. The result is a tool of serendipity and exploration. What I find compelling is the juxtaposition of so many different captured experiences, like people watching on a train but spanning across the world, and in so many different settings.

In some cases people who shared photos only had 100 or 200 followers to see them. Now many more can see, share, and comment on the photos.

Instagram made it easier for people to take beautiful photos. right now all around builds on that enabled creativity by creating a collective image stream. In a way the result is visual poetry of what people are doing, feeling, or wanting to remember.

The time of day plays a roll- if you look at the app at 4 AM EST for instance, you will see more photos from southeast asia.

In the non-mobile version updating elapsed time is presented. Usually as you scroll down, you are looking at older bits of content. In this case, with every API call, new images are brought up. If you refresh, you will only see new images. The app is always looking forward, and there is no memory.

I’ve found it a great tool to see new memes, especially one’s that are subculture specific, that I would normally never come across due to my most frequent information channels.  Last year there was a lot of talk of the filter bubble- the danger of psilo-ing from recommendation algorithms.  With the growth of APIs we have more control to determine our information sharing experiences.  This is in part an exploration of that which I hope to pursue in other contexts and media (for example news and Facebook) as well.

See right now all around.

Take a look at the code.

Technical details: I used this as an opportunity to play with the backbone js framework, building a client side app with JSONP from the Twitter API.  No authentication is required, and the API is limited to 150 requests per hour per IP address, as described in the Twitter API documentation.


Some close up screenshots of real time geolocated tweets

I built a tool yesterday to observe geolocated tweets as they came in on a world map.  Its kind of cool to zoom in on specific cities.  After just 30 seconds I gathered quite a few in New York.  Clicking on a marker reveals the profile pic and the tweet.

And then zooming out I could see clusters along cities in the Northeast.

After several minutes I zoomed out to see the world map, but at that point there were too many tweets and my browser crashed.  This is where selective coarsening would be useful.

You can find the project on github.