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Blog posts tagged as 'illustration'

Friday Links: Light with character, some graphic design, and music videos

Sticky Light is an installation that projects a laser that sticks to lines and solid objects. There’s no camera – just a laser and a photodector. It’s incredibly responsive, and completely captivating. The dot of light takes on a surprising amount of personality, darting around, occasionally getting lost and confused, and then suddenly slipping away to explore its surroundings when released.

That such a nuanced impression of character could be formed from such a seemingly simple actor reminded me of Ken Perlin’s Polly: a prism that walks around a surface. That may not sound like much, but once you start playing with the various animation loops programmed into it, you might well change your mind. “Dejected” is heartbreaking. And yet: it’s a triangular prism. Marvellous.

Two pieces of graphic design that caught my eye. First, via Paul Mison, a spread from Marie Neurath’s Railways Under London. There’s a bit more on the output of the Isotype Institute, and some lovely examples of their work for children, over at the Science Project blog.


Secondly, via Frank Chimero, this lovely selection of covers for Kafka’s books by Peter Mendelsund. Mendelsund has a great blogpost on the design of the covers for publisher Shocken.

Finally, two music videos with interesting visual treatments. Firstly, Echo Lake’s Young Silence, which used a Kinect’s depth camera to film the band. It’s not a raw output, of course. There’s a lot of visual processing, and compositing of co-ordinates that’s followed up, but it makes the video very striking – and much like a low-budget take on Radiohead’s House Of Cards video, filmed on LIDAR.

And, to end, Chairlift’s Evident Utensil. This came up in discussion in the studio when we were talking about the aesthetics unique to video in the digital age, such as stabilisation, or as in these videos, what happens when keyframe data goes missing. The answer to the latter can be seen in the Chairlift video – and in several other examples of Datamoshing.

Friday Links: rolling, mapping, driving, products.

This week’s been buzzing and busy – everybody’s back in the studio after a week of holidays, festivals, and trips to India. That means the studio mailing list has been buzzing again, and so it’s time to take the cream of the links and get them onto the blog.

Matt J found Gearbox, a company making “smart toys” to pair with your smartphone. Their first toy is a ball that rolls the direction you tilt your phone in. They explain:

We are then leveraging the connectivity and computing power of the phone to create a fully interactive experience for the user. Our first app for the ball is Sumo. I throw my ball on a table, you throws yours on the table and then we can try and sumo each others ball off the table. However, while our physical balls are moving there is also an onscreen component with online stats, profiles, damage, powerups and other aspects of gameplay that aren’t possible with a regular remote control toy. For instance, when the balls collide they can sustain “damage” and roll slower or I could get a powerup to reverse your controls for a few seconds.

Aside from the games we produce we are also opening up the APIs for the ball so any app developer with no hardware knowledge can build their own games or applications and bring them to the real world.

Smashing; it’s the open-API that really sets these toys apart from something more constrained, like Sony’s Rolly. And this is only their first product!


Joey Roth’s ‘Charlatan / Martyr / Huslter‘ poster has been doing the rounds, recently, and with good reason – it’s lovely. But equally lovely is the attention to detail on the webpage selling it. Matt W sent it to our internal list, commenting on how the product page “communicates desire” – the closeups of the type and paper stock, the shot (reproduced above) of copies being stacked. It reinforces that it’s not just an EPS on a piece of paper; it’s a real product, and Roth’s website makes you want it.


Damon Zucconi’s Fata Morgana is, essentially, Google Maps without the Maps: roads, land, and water are all stripped away leaving just place names and street names. Even zoomed in, as above, the effect persists. Maps made just of names and streets aren’t a new thing – but there’s a strange juxtaposition in seeing them in slippy, interactive javascript form.

Here’s a short demonstration of an official version of The Settlers of Catan for Microsoft’s Surface. It’s a little underwhelming – very literal in some of its metaphors. That said, I loved the interaction between physical tokens and the board – in particular, the way the “visor” has an X-ray effect on cards underneath it. By making it a very realistic – and carefully masked – X-ray effect, the metaphor actually holds up better. It’s very much an understanding of the Surface as a Magic Table rather than a big window.


And finally – this is Racer. An old arcade cabinet; a remote control car on a small circuit; a remote camera, and timing circuitry. Put them together and you’ve got this charming and effective game. A tiny, remote-control version of C’était un Rendez-vous, if you like. This video of it in action is great – alas, I couldn’t embed it, so I hope the link suffices.

Tuesday Links: Drawings, Diagrams, Drawing Machines

A long while without links: I blame December deadlines and moving studio. A shame, given we’d been collecting a whole series of links on the studio mailing list; time to rectify that by sharing them with you, starting with a selection of articles connected by the theme of drawing.

Hand grid with guide grid by atduskgreg on Flickr

Melt Triptych – Center Portrait from Peter Esveld on Vimeo.

Drawing Machines 2009 – the blog that kicked off the idea for this post, which we found after they linked to our little Inductive Truck prototype.

Accompanying a Fall 2009 class at ITP, the blog is full of links to all sorts of automated and programattic drawing devices, as well as examples of final work. I particularly liked Greg Borenstein’s post on drawing grids distorted by gravity, in an attempt to make visible the weight of objects, and enjoyed Peter Esveld’s Melt Triptych (also above) a lot.

Edward Zajec ram2/9 plotter drawing 1969

A lovely selection of plotter drawings from the 1960s – a very early example of artwork created entirely digitally, with a surprising variety of styles on display.

And how about this: the Great Diagrams in Anthropology, Linguistics, & Social Theory pool over on Flickr, full of diagrams of linguistic constructions, social spaces, Polynesian tattoos, and suchlike. Exciting.


Untitled, Computer print-out with coloured pen and ink, Harold Cohen, 1969, from the V&A collection

And we – we being BERG – can’t talk about computer art without reference to Cybernetic Serendipity, the 1968 exhibition of computer art originally shown at the ICA. There’s a nice overview of it – and its importance – at the ICA website, and also in these original descriptions from its curator, Jasia Reichardt.

The Harold Cohen above is a lovely sample of it – its gridded pattern of cursive loops remind me a little of the distortion patterns Matt was playing with a while back.

Designing keyboards for the future


The future of 1982, that is.

Rick Dickinson, of Dickinson Associates, has uploaded a whole portfolio of images to Flickr – both illustrations and photographs – from his work designing the hardware for the ZX Spectrum. You can view the whole set here.

It’s a lovely slice of British technology history – designing what the home computing revolution would look like. But it’s also full of some lovely illustration, showing just how product design overlaps both engineering and more aesthetic disciplines.

And I really liked this drawing of the keyboard.

(Image: “Sketch for how the keyboard plate might be fixed” by Rick Dickinson on Flickr)

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