100 Day Project - Generative Art and Waveforms

Posted by Michelle Chandra on

When I started my 100 Day Project, I intended it as a way to get back into programming while creating generative art inspired by natural patterns. I quickly realized that a) I haven't programmed in a while and I am incredibly rusty, and b) I needed to start with something easier. 

So I have turned my 100 Day Project into an opportunity to revisit two projects I worked on in graduate school at ITP - NYU. (Follow me on Instagram @dirtalleydesign to see the project unfold!)

Project One - Instacollage: Days 1 - 30

For the first part of my 100 day project, I have been creating "instacollage" images.

 The instacollages are created from a simple program I wrote using Processing that randomly combines slices of Instagram images into one image creating interesting photo collagey effects especially when one collages the collages.

 You can review more of the Instacollages in this blog post!

Project Two - Generative "Spirograph": Days 30-100

The second project I am revisiting is a sketch I created in my "Coding for Emotional Impact" class taught at ITP - NYU. During the class, I evolved a few basic sketches that drew many circles around a central point into a Spirograph like sketch. It's a little hard to describe, but the sketch modulates where the circles are drawn based on a combination of sin, cosine and tan waves creating forms that are reminiscent of spirographs.

A lot of interesting effects that arose from the animation relied on drawing many circles over and over on top of each other, in effect "painting" layers of circles on the screen.

I spent some time simplifying the program to only draw one layer of circles radiating outward. Different combinations of waveforms lead to very different effects!

Wave Cycles in Nature

Initially, I wanted to explore a different natural pattern programmatically every two weeks. For instance, one week I might explore hexagon patterns inspired by honeycombs, and then fractals inspired by mountains and rocks.

Once I started the project, I realized this was mighty ambitious as I haven't programmed in a hot minute. To make things easier, I am instead revisiting my spirograph sketch as there is in fact a connection to patterns found in the natural world - waveforms and cycles. 

A periodic cycle is something that repeats over and over again, much like a regular waveform (sin and cosine waveforms for example!) There are many examples of periodic cycles in nature - the yearly calendar, ocean waves, the movement of the sun, the yearly cycle of seasons, the migration of animals. Or our heartbeat, and the movement of animals (our gait when walking, running, etc!)

And of course sound is a big one! My spirographs also have other connections to patterns found in nature through bilateral and rotational symmetry (common to animals, plants, etc) and spirals. 

Follow me on Instagram @dirtalleydesign to watch the project unfold!

About Dirt Alley Design

michelle chandra dirt alley designDirt Alley Design was founded just off a dirt alley in San Francisco in December of 2016 by artist Michelle Chandra. Inspired by the beauty of street grids, Michelle invented maze maps in which she transforms street grids into mazes. 

My maze art isn't just decorative art for your home, it's a real puzzle maze you can solve (if you dare!) I think my maze maps are pretty cool, but don't take just my word for it! My maze maps have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Print Mag and Vice, to name a few!

artist process generative art spirographs

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