[EDT] – “Brainstorming”

Nothing’s more exciting than an idea before implementation.
Nothing’s more disappointing than an idea after.

In 3 Parts

1. Some Dots

Implementing a program that has a grid of dots that get larger and brighter the closer they are to the mouse is fine. The mouse position is a convenient built in variable and its distance from the circle can be inversely proportional to the circle’s radius.

The trouble is aesthetics. An inverse relationship is asymptotic, and the radius will approach infinity as the mouse gets closer. That’s no good. I imagined an inverse graph and imagined how I needed to transform it to avoid an infinite radius. But why use math when I could use logic? So I just told the program that if it found the radius to be greater than 2, then the radius is 2. Imposing my own asymptote.

Visual representation of our circle’s radius

The aesthetic question I couldn’t solve was this: having the circles overlap diagonally with the bottom-right circle on top didn’t make much sense. It would look better for the circles to be drawn with the nearest (and largest) circle on top. However, our technique for drawing involved drawing them in the same order every time. I tried to have a looper that draw the largest circle last, but doing that in an iterating loop is tricky and prone to failure. So I never achieved that. If I were to pursue that goal further, I would probably build a 2-D array and use that to determine the closest circles and draw them last.

2. A Clock

There’s something about toying with my unhealthy thought processes that inspires me. Story time: I was on the light rail with enough energy to actually put focus into my posture. Sitting up straight is “neat” because you’re creating a right angle against the right angle of the seat. The dead space is used up maximally. To continue to diminish dead space, I sat as close to the wall as I could so that the dead space behind me and the dead space to the left of me was minimized. And so the sitting space in the train is maximized!

It’s a childish thought process. I remember thinking through these things as a kid, bored, sitting in an empty room as my family moved. But back then, I wasn’t ok with any of the dead space. Why couldn’t I fit myself to be perfectly in the corner? At some point, I linked this expectation to my affinity for Hanna-Barbara cartoons. These cartoons created a world where a character can run face first into the corner and their face comes out in the perfect shape of that corner. And in that moment, they have perfectly filled that corner. No dead space.

But wait, I realized, as I was going 60 mph on our most efficient transportation method in Denver. I’ve never considered myself in power to fulfill this desire. But if animation is the inspiration behind it, and I am animating right now, then can’t I create that world? The opportunity to “make a clock” popped into my head. And I imagined an adorable square making its rounds around a rectangular screen, fitting neatly into each corner as it landed, each second. And this wouldn’t be satisfying if he was always a square, so he’s gotta round out when he leaves the corner. Here are the collective qualities of our lovable, time-keeping square:

  1. Fits into the corner perfectly when he lands
  2. Rounds out as he moves
  3. Accelerate out of and decelerates into the corner
  4. Is smiling and maybe changes expressions as he moves
  5. Movement between each corner lasts exactly one second each

The proportions are still to be decided, but I achieved the first three tasks. The fourth and fifth ones will be… time consuming.

As I was spinning out my utopian clock, my musical education kicked in and saw a way to take the numbers of the time and decrypt them into a piece of music. Essentially, creating a self-generating 12 hour piece of music. Luckily, there are 12 hours in a day and 12 pitches in the Western chromatic scale, so there’s an easy correlation. Inspired by minimalists, I figured I would use the diatonic collection based on each scale and move through the notes by a perfect 5th. So 1:00 would be C Diatonic, 2:00 would be G Diatonic, 3:00 is D Diatonic and so on. This will be familiar and slow moving as many traditional pieces move through these collections in this way. How the pitches of each collection are introduced is yet to be decided (though it’ll likely be based on the minute of that hour). Whatever pitches are considered to be “legal” will be arpeggiated through using a rhythm determined by the seconds, where the pulse is quarter note = 120 beats per minute, allowing for 2 pulses per second. The first pulse will be determined by the tens place in the seconds, the second will be determined by the ones place. 

As I was thinking about generating audio using the time, I thought about generating our block friend’s movement, and maybe allowing him to have friends. Thus, I developed this table that denotes the boxes’ position based on the ones place of the second, so his position cycles through every 10 seconds.


And each 10 is celebrated with all 4 corners filled. And every time another corner is filled, our friend will split into two, like an amoeba.

As for the actually time telling, I had an idea that withered away after some brief research. I had seen this picture that claimed that the Arabic numbers were made based on how many angles were in the number.

A circulated falsity

I liked the aesthetic of those numbers and considered incorporating them into my clock. After coding 1,2, and 3 into P5.JS, I found out that this fact is false.

Oh well, it would’ve been a weird aesthetic choice anyway. So I’m going to develop my time-keeping friend and see what inspiring aesthetic turns up for the clock itself as a result, and hopefully have a way to flesh out my vision.

3. A Video of a Desirable Future

Curious Rituals

I’m on the fence about this one. I think the Curious Rituals format got stuck in my brain, because I like observing the significance of banality. While the character just believes she’s going through her day, we see indicators for the future. This, combined with my own daily ritual of listening to NPR as I start my day and the option to comment of the state of our world created a vision:

We follow an every day man as he listens to NPR. The video will be a collage of 4 separate days where he is doing 4 separate errands as he listens. The NPR stories will tell, overall, good things. Say, a charity is formed by billionaires to be poised to be the most well funded lobbying organization. And its goal is to create legislation to fight climate change. Or a deer caught in a fence is set free and is found to be returning to its saviors every week to give thanks. Or the stock markets are up. As he listens to these stories, he is going grocery shopping, or to the laundromat, or on a bus, and his wallet is emptying. This is to say: the future will hold positive things, maybe even some mildly relevant to this man, but that still doesn’t change universal struggle of day-to-day living concerns. Those are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I imagine the shots being fairly stark and straight on. Maybe the coloring is drab. Ideally, each different day would have noticeably varying weather, but this may be beyond my control. And the sounds will be unremarkable: background noise and NPR. Little to none dialogue and no music. It’s an aesthetic. It’s a message. But I don’t know if it’s my most creative idea, so I’m not committing. But it was the most natural idea to come to mind.


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