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Decision Fatigue - How to Get More Done

Decision fatigue is real. There is only a finite amount of willpower we each have per day. It is why after getting back from a day of 9-6 work you cannot bring yourself to start that passion project that you really want. Writing just a page of that novel. Just another colour on that canvas. Just one rep of that exercise routine. Why is there such a disconnect between our desire and our ability to execute? Do not worry - this is natural. You're fighting an uphill battle, and it's one you COULD tip in your favor - you just need to think a little differently. By simply moving the most important, decision-making tasks to the start of the day and saving the autopilot, minimum brain activity tasks

Emergent Rendering

I learned physically based rendering (PBR) and non-physically based rendering (NPBR) when learning opengl and c++ for cg films and games. They are two directions for using computer graphics that are constantly being developed. PBR is mainly used for CG films and AAA games, generally needing to take more time and resources as well as massive rendering times to create. NPBR is generally used for avant-garde animations and most other games. Games have the requirement of having to run at a consistent frame rate - severely restringing the kinds of computation that can happen to display each and every frame. This means that other algorithms that approximate real life or stylize must be used to hav

Software As A Medium, Software As A Tool

The use of Software in the arts can be split int two categories. Production and Conception. The computer has been wonderful in significantly reducing the resources and time it takes to produce specific types of forms. It is an efficient tool for creative Production. Efficiency facilitates creativity by enabling more time for exploration as less time is spent for the final production. However for artists and designers, having a unique vision requires them to exceed the limitations of the tool. In software, to go beyond the limitations, it is necessary to customize existing tools or to write your very own software - to be unconstrained by the expectations of the software company or another pr

From Paintings to Simulations: How Can We Control Complex Systems

"Once we understand how things work, we have a chance to interact with them. Not with memorization or rote or politics, but with practical effort." - Seth Godin Creating a successful painting is very difficult. It requires a vivid mental final image, a thorough knowledge of the actions you will take, and a bullish execution of them. Even more difficult is to do 2 successful paintings, and then 3, and then 4 and so on.. until it becomes a practice. Until the process has become a mental one, a toolkit - a way of observing then abstracting what you see into shapes of colour that you apply in a specific way... Each painting is its own challenge and the learning process is never finished - but b

Don't Do it Alone

As an artist it is easy for me to work for days on end without much contact with the outside world - or with an internal virtual one, it is just me and the work that must be done. And as with a lot of other art, it's experimental in nature. You don't know the outcome, it's risky, it's difficult to plan for. The unique situation and implementation of your creative problems, nebulous goals, along with the large stretches of time you are not exposed to any new stimulus and the unknowable future may make you think you simply cannot do what it is you are required to. You hit a dead end. The answer is always that you shouldn't be doing it alone. Not in a 'get your friends and loved ones to help' k

Abstract Data Types As Symbols Of Meaning

Abstract Data Types, ADT's, are at the center of Object Oriented Programming. With this model you can essentially design conceptual 'objects' virtually. In C++ these are called classes. The interface design, the inner workings and the division of functionality between classes all need to be considered when creating a well designed piece of software - the solution to your problem. ADT's allow us to effectively manage complexity, software's primary imperative, by breaking it down. Without it we would be forced to use an ad-hoc approach, not necessarily a bad approach but one that doesn't afford the flexibility and self documentation that ADTs have. ADTs, when used effectively, are beautiful in

Programming is A 'Wicked' Problem

In Code Complete , Steve McConnell states that programming is a 'wicked' problem. A 'wicked' problem is a problem you do not know the solution to until you've built it. This reflects a very well known programming practice of: coding a prototype so you understand the problem, its boundaries, and discover all the unknown little bumps you didn't know about before then scrap it and code it properly.. Without the blueprint, the direction, to frame your solution you are just blindly cutting through the forest - it's only after you reached the other side that you realize how many bends you made. So next time you can make it a nice clean path to the finish. Makes sense. The solution depends on the p

Creation Breeds Creativity

Have you ever had to write an essay? How hard is it to know what to write when you are staring at that blank page? Where do you start? How do you say what you think? How do you say it well? Start by putting something down - anything. As sculptors cannot work without the material to shape, you cannot be creative without working with something, on something, shaping it. From that initial source, those first incoherent lines, you can begin to shape your argument. Not out of thin air but from volume, mass, material - fuel. Don't worry about it being perfect - you'll see to that further on, you're creative. Just create something and THEN start to get creative. You'd be surprised about what you'll

Progress Happens From Meaningful Drips

Just one simple improvement a day. A single email. One small blog article. A single social media post. Progress happens from MEANINGFUL drips - small but vital marginal improvements that take you a step closer to your goal. This could be an improvement in your technique, a full painting, an article, an exercise routine, a skill to put into practice - whatever action that would mean you were better than yesterday. After many of these drips things start to build up, all you need to do is make sure those drips are going into the right buckets (or into a bucket at all!) If you are consistently working on something a bit every day but seeing no meaningful progress towards your goals then you need

Designing Phenomena: The Artists Who Use Algorithms to Examine Nature

When you think of programming you may think of this.. and probably not this... Yet this lower image is far more accurate to how these digital artists use their tools to examine and create from nature... Shohei Fujimoto Shohei Fujimoto is a creative coder from Japan who makes minimalist 'living systems' using C++ and openFrameworks. He develops work between the worlds of graphic design and generative simulation, culminating in these 'living phenomena' digital pieces. Reminiscent of a colony of ants or staring out into the ocean, Shohei's work taps into that fascination with nature, abstracting phenomenon you see in everyday life and reducing it down to it's essence. Read this fantastic interv

Creatively Using Chance and Control

Balancing between chance and control is where creativity lies. Meeting chaos with an answer. Adapting to changing conditions. Pursuing an uncertain outcome. Promising the imperfect. Painting is symbolic of this. Controlling the complex bristles of a brush, the nuances of mixed paint, guiding a complex system to directed completion. An artist is able to paint a painting not by consciously controlling each and every facet of the process, it's impossible to control all of the mixtures, the hundreds of bristles, it's about mentally conceiving and executing it through an oversimplified model: Control your Drawing. Control your Colours. Control your Values. Control your Edges. 4 Simple Rules. Quar

How To Develop An Instinct To Ship

If you want to get better at something, if you want to be productive, you have to continuously complete things. Not just work on them, but finish them - In salesperson jargon you must: 'always be closing' So the question of productivity then becomes; how do I continuously finish? I used to think that you first make the art, make the outcome and then find the audience, the market, the space. This was what I called rear-wheeled motivation, you're being motivated by the making of the piece itself as opposed to aiming at a deadline, which would be front-wheeled. This came from years of working to tight deadlines at my previous job so when I decided to go solo I couldn't think of a worse thing to

A Sandbox You Can Examine

Creating with physical media is a sandbox of creativity, something working with a computer severely restricts. On the other hand - Examining information and representing it is something computers can do incredibly well, yet cannot be done easily with physical media. How can we build future tools that allow for a dynamic array of creative choices while also being able to examine and abstract those choices across various representations? How can we build a space to freely express, then be able to control and understand that expression? How can we build a sandbox we can examine.

Eyes Wide Shut Vs Eyes Wide Open

I attended a talk from Frieder Nake, one of the early pioneers of computer art and a serious badass. He said that great artists have large eyes, they have their eyes wide open, observing the world and use their eyes to gather and analyze data. He went on to say this mental model is different for algorists and computer artists. Instead they have their eyes wide shut. They draw instructions and pictures in their minds, meditating on the outcome and then executing it in code. As an artist who combines both painting and programming, I thought it was a succinct metaphor for the different creative mental processes - two sides of the same coin, opposites yet the same. I would also add that physical

How Can You Describe A Scribble?

You can't. At least, not easily. You can express it mathematically or programmatically incredibly obtusely, but no one could see what you were talking about.. It'd be turned from what a human understands, a simple line on the page, into what a computer understands, a mathematical formula. It'd be taking mathematical representations ingenuously developed for a certain field of understanding and applying it haphazardly to another. This is the creative coder's conundrum; switching from a form you innately understand to one you don't, switching from the viewport to the text file and back again when you need to make another change. When the scribble, the primitive of creative thought, cannot be e

7 Thoughts for 7 Days

Inspired by my recent favourite person Seth Godin. I'll be attempting to write a blog post a day. This will focus on programming, art, creative processes and anything else that touches on being a technologist and an artist. I hope they will be of help to anyone whose looking. I hope that I keep it up.

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