Archive for the ‘Artwork’ Category

A very dreary day here in Boston, and rather quiet. The local universities are closed because of the potential, largely unrealized, for heavy snow. But it makes for a welcome and unexpected holiday feeling.


Screen shot #2

To pass the time, I have been working with my friend on our as yet unnamed and undisclosed app. And he, I must say, is working from an undisclosed location. Better for concentration, he says. Anyway, we are supposed to meet with friends tonight at the local bar. It will be good to get out of the house after a day inside with the cat and the computer. And I must stay true to my vow: no coding after sundown!

Our aim with this app is (a) to have some fun, (b) to make beautiful images, (c) make a little money, in roughly that order. With (a) we have succeeded, and we think (b) is realistic. About (c) … well, um, if it pays for a few good books, that will be some satisfaction. A trip to warm place would be even better!

We will reveal the not so secret sauce that makes the app work at our forthcoming launch event. Suffice to say that an essential ingredient is a bit of mathematics. Rather simple mathematics, in fact. My friend and I argue about where the beauty in all this really lies. Let us stipulate, for the sake of argument, that this image, or some other image produced by the app, is a thing of beauty. Now the image depends on the code, and the code on the mathematics. So if beauty is in the image, is it not also in the code, and therefore also in the mathematics? This is clearly a deep philosophical question. Perhaps we can resolve it tonight at the bar in our weekly “symposium.” (Inside joke: my more learned friends tell me that a symposium is derived from Greek sym = together and pinein = to drink. Plato and his friends knew a good thing when they saw it!)

As for our product launch, I do hope that we manage to do it in the too far distant future. For me the perfect has always been the enemy of the good, or at least of the satisfactory. I am always driven to make the code as clean, elegant, even beautiful as I can, even though it will likely never be seen by more than two sets of eyes. Alas, I did spend a large part of today refactoring the code so as to achieve just these lofty aims. It makes no difference to the user, but somehow it makes me feel happier. I guess that is justification enough.

Well, I have produced more text than needed to frame the image, which was really the whole point. Time to do something different for a while!


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Hello friends! Some of you have asked “Where’s Hakon? We don’t see him on wordpress these days, we don’t see him at the neighborhood bar, the laundromat, or even the pizza parlor.” Well, a few persistent souls have observed my comings and goings, but the truth is prosaic, even boring. I have been writing code. The bad news is that the coding for this software project has been exhausting, with the exhaustion prolonged by the kinds of things that always go wrong with a many-person effort (whose name and nature must legally, but also mercifully go unmentioned). The good news is that the project is finished! The final commit was made last Monday, and the suits have approved our work. May their names be praised!

Kinetic Art

I am now liberated, or at any rate well into the liberation the process. Spent the weekend cleaning the apartment and my mind, playing the piano, and, well, writing some code. But the latter is strictly for pleasure. A friend and I are doing a little kinetic art app for the iphone — see a one-frame screen shot on the left. Think of it as a kind of algorithmically created film in which the user/viewer can involve himself if he wishes — selecting parameters, shaping sequences, etc. It has been fun — a combination of art, mathematidcs, and coding. All of which are arts of course!!

I doubt our little app will make much money, but we are having a blast doing it. I will keep you posted. We hope to release it in the next month or two.

Speaking of film and art, my friend’s son, who was at one point interested in mathematics, has now switched to film. Below is his first YouTube post. Both live video and stop motion animation edited together. It is amazing what kids can do with the software tools available now. I remember the days when one of the main tools was a razor blade!

Time is never long to die

Well, time to get some sleep. Hope to spend more now time blogging and doing other things both significant and frivolous.


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Arrival in the City

It was early morning when they arrived, Father and son. About six o’clock, shortly after sunrise, the hour when the guardians of the earth change stations. The protectors of the night fly to their dark sleeping places, while the great serpent awakes to greet the sun. Fearsome as he uncoils his muscular body, he is the gentlest of creatures, treating even those who tread upon the Prince’s flowers to little more than a cleaning with his forked tongue while the wrongdoers are held in a firm and scaly embrace.

Father and sun enter the city. They have a letter to deliver to the Prince.

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Bacterial I

A beautiful, sun-filled and tranquil Saturday morning, with time to enjoy several cups of coffee and further experimentation with Harmonious, the “procedural drawing” app for the iPad. I still haven’t figured out what procedural drawing is, though as a computer jock, I ought to be able to guess. As my finger traces out a path on the screen, a trail of shapes is left behind, rectangles, for example. As the finger slows or applies more pressure, the size of the rectangles changes. One axis of the rectangle is aligned with the direction (velocity vector) of the pressure track. Seems like a really upscale brush with magical properties, but if the Angry Robot Zombie Factory wants to dub it procedural, so be it. Of course, I am being (deliberately) dense, since there has to be plenty of code – procedures – to translate the pressure track of my finger into a trail of rectangles. But between procedural and magical, I will choose magical, at least on weekends!

Bacterial II

Since my last post on the Harmonius app, you will note that I have discovered color. What a thrill! Of course it was there all along, an option just waiting to be touched and brought into being. There is a gallery of drawings with Harmonius, and also a few web sites that discuss the app. So far I have just one criticism. One can save drawings to the iPad photo gallery, or upload them to the Harmonium gallery. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to save a drawing locally, come back to it later, then edit it and perhaps, when satisfied, upload it to the Harmonium galllery. Maybe I just haven’t found this feature. Time for another cup of coffee and to enjoy the sun!


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Another find on facebook: this fish, who lives
here. Nice shapes and nice expressions, though I fear for one of the fish.


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Plant life on planet K

Let us imagine that these images are sketches by a traveler to planet KrrK. There is an abundance of species on the planent but with a silicon-based chemistry, not a carbon-based one. This makes some aspects of recycliing much easier. The denizens love nothing better than a dessert of crushed bottles with a light dusting of beach sand. And of course colored bottles are prized: the trace elements not only make for a more visually appealing meal, but also add flavor. Love those trace elements! I should note that the denizens blessed (cursed?) with the gift of speech communicate using consonants only, hence the unusual name of their planet. Another consequence of this linguistic peculiarity is that their music is entirely percussion based — though percussion instruments can be tuned, of course. More on this in another post.

Animal life on planet K

Note in case there is a doubt: the inhabitants of KrrK subscribe to a theory of evolution, which they refer to as “Gmmkrkrdd,” meaning to “change and ramify,” if I understand correctly. The fossil record is unusually well-preserved on KrrK owing to the silicon basis of life there. The notion of Gmmkrkrdd was discovered some 4,000 years ago (earth time) and was quickly accepted after a short period of intense debate. It seems that on KrrK, issues once setttled stay setttled. In this respect, their politics is more like earthly mathematics.

More seriously, the above “art” is another test of artwork on the iPad. The tool (men say tool, my women friends and family say “toy”) is Harmonious, by the Angry Robot Zombie Factory. It is described as using “procedural drawing techniques.” Whatever that means, it is great fun to use. (I hate to give credence to the toy theory, but alas, there it is, I said it). I find that slowly moving ones’ index finger across the surface of the iPad works best, with a fair degree of pressure to keep the motion slow and even.

Regarding the iPad itself, my fellow geeks, coders, software architects, quality assurance honchos, and assorted others who dwell in our cubicle-packed technoworld are undergoing a subtle shift of attitude. The sarcasm, the snide and condescending comments are gradually giving way to time spent touching and experimenting with the device while I am occupied with more serious matters such as finding memory leaks in our code. Much of this shift is due to their discovery that the device-tool-toy can be used to read comics. A discovery for me as I come to know better my new country is that comics are not necessarily for kids. Indeed, there is a subpopulation for whom this is not only a passion and pastime, but the essence of cool.


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Too tired from coding to put one word after another in way that coheres. And working with images is more restful than working with words: the latter are housed in the same part of the brain as is both worry and logic. These areas are overworked of late, especially the logical one.

So here are some analog-digital experiments which serve as a better elixir than vodka, even vodka chilled with that so-clear ice from the glaciers along the southern coast of Iceland. Those of you have had had this pleasure know that the pressure of the ice above squeezes out the bubbles, so the ice that breaks off in the sea is as clear as the purest diamond.

Analog first: a pencil sketch which is inked in and gone over with an eraser. Then digital: a scan which is layered with color using Pixelmator – a mac drawing program which is not as full-featured as Photoshop but is simpler and much, much cheaper.

I need to find my wacom tablet for this sort of stuff. A trackpad is a pretty crude artist’s tool!

Some of my friends like to find deep psychoanalytic meaning in these drawings – the snake, the so-treacherous reptilian forked tongue, the flower growing from what might be interpreted as a navel, though it reminds me of the tomato aspic my grandmother used serve at Sunday dinners. My own naive view is different. The hand begins with a curve that turns first this way, then that. Another line is added to balance the first. A shape leads to an idea which leads to another shape. Eventually a drawing results. Nothing could be simpler, nor more of a balm to the soul.

Well, I have rambled on enough to provide enugh worlds to fram both images, so I will spare you further nonsense or a trip to the local lorem ipsum generator:-) HH

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The Staircase

The staircase © 2010

More material for the coloring book. A project I work on from time to time, often as a substitute for doing what I really should be doing: cleaning the apartment, catching up on work, or, most importantly, catching up on sleep. But “une obsession peut cacher une autre,” to paraphrase the French expression. (See my very first post for thoughts on the topic “obsession”).

This drawing has a story, which begins as follows:

Once upon a time, in a far away galaxy, a little boy, whose name was Diilu, was about to go up the stairs to bed. It was 9 pm, already late. Tomorrow was a school day!

Diilu could see only two of the three moons that travel through the night sky — the small green one and the large orange one. The medium-sized white moon, where his father was working, had not yet risen ..

Alas, completion of this little project must wait. The software venture I am working on has reached the terminal crazy-frenetic stage. It occurs, with mechanical precision, just before scheduled product release when failure is the most probable outcome. Those who do the real work — my fellow programmers and I, software architects, computer scientists, and other geeks of low and high station — stay at the office later and later while our bosses (generally less educated though more extroverted than we are) call us to more and more meetings intended to make us more productive, thereby making us less so. But we shall overcome, one day, despite their managerial genius!


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Arrival in the city © 2010

Pen and ink drawng — “Arrival in the City,” from an eventually-to-be-published coloring book.

See next post for the reason why this will not happen in the short term.



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