16 Jun

OFFF 2011 Barcelona - Aaron Koblin

16. June 2011 by George Profenza

‘Aaron Koblin: Let’s feed the future workshop’ was probably the talk I was most looking forward to at OFFF. It focussed on a workshop available for a select few where the attendees would ‘work together for one day and present their creations’. I will be covering the results of this workshop in another post, but I think Koblin’s introduction to his work and himself warranted a separate blog post.

Aaron Koblin is ‘an artist specializing in data and digital technologies’; he is also Creative Director of the Data Arts Team at Google. At OFFF before the workshop attendees presented their work, Koblin gave a brief overview of some of his works. Some projects he mentioned were:

The Johnny Cash project is an interactive music video in which each frame is drawn by a different person. A user will get a frame of the music video and they can then use the drawing tool on the website to re-create the frame in whatever style they choose; limited to a black and white palette. The video at the top right of this post is a version of the music video. Since the video is ever changing, it will probably now be different so go to the website and see it for yourself. Another interesting feature of the project is that frames can be categorised and rated so you can view the video differently based on frame rating, abstract frames, realistic frames, etc.

offf3 The video for Radiohead’s House of Cards (credits) which used lasers to capture surroundings and shapes to produce a music video that didn’t have any video in. You can download the source (written in Processing) and watch a making of video here. Koblin also explained how because the video was open source, many spin-off versions of the video had been made and uploaded to youtube including a 3D print of Thom Yorke’s face (see left).

offf2 eCloud is a sculpture/permanent installation housed inside San Jose International Airport. It features hundreds of panes of ‘Smart glass’ which are turned on and off to simulate weather patterns around the world. There is a display which details what is being displayed on the panels. There is a lot of information about this at ecloudproject.com. The photo to the right (by Spencer Lowell) shows the eCloud installed in the airport there is also a video of it in action here. This project was built in Java and was built using Processing as a base.

offf1 Others were ROME which is a completely browser-based music video which makes use of webGL to create realtime 3D graphics, videos and interaction to create an immersive experience. As Aaron said, you really need to see it yourself to experience it so do visit the site. The Wilderness Downtown: another browser-based music video that uses Google Maps to personalise the music video, features a drawing tool to send messages to your past self and makes use of browser windows to frame different parts of the video. Finally, Ten Thousand Cents which was a project that used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to ask thousands of people to draw a fraction of a one-hundred dollar bill. The result can be seen in the animated gif to the right.

offf4 To see more work of Aaron’s, visit his portofolio at http://www.aaronkoblin.com/, it’s all really impressive work. I like to see that Processing is used in many of his projects. Also, I think that my favourite projects of his are those in association with Chris Milk and Mr. Doob - ROME, The Wilderness Downtown and The Johnny Cash project.

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