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Swarm is a real-time "painterly rendering" system created by using the pattern of flocking birds (from Craig Reynold's "Boids" model) as a constantly moving brush stroke.

Life Enhancement
Swarm is an interactive artwork that reflects the viewer's image in an abstract, animated portrait. It is meant to enhance the environment of public and private spaces.

Swarm is a digital artwork that examines the way we look at imagery made on the computer vs. imagery made by hand. How is the process of dripping paint on a canvas different from setting pixels on a screen? Can an algorithm become a tool for creating art? These questions led me to my experiments, and it is my hope that the result, Swarm, will change the way we think about images, computers, and art.

My goal was to create a screen-based artwork that evoked the feeling of something handmade. I wanted the simulated brushstrokes to appear to have a "human" touch. Also, because I wanted the work to be a less "in-your-face" graphics experience, I made sure that the "painting" process was gradual, so the screen imagery changes slowly over time.

Painterly rendering is an emerging field of research in computer graphics. I've developed a simple system that requires very little computation (and therefore processing power) to create such an effect in real time. In addition, this system shows the generative painting process in real time. Only the parts of the screen where the swarm currently lives are updated.

After researching how to implement Craig Reynolds' "Boids" model for flocking behavior, I wrote the software for Swarm in C++ (Windows and Macintosh).

Swarm Web Site

Wednesday, 11 August
10:30 am - 12:15 pm
Room 404AB

Daniel Shiffman
New York University

emerging technologies jury and committee
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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA