/ M · E · A · N · T · I · M · E /
( #200-B Edition :: WIP )


Note: This piece is just a study, coded to introduce myself into the AlloSystem.
This is not a finished work, but it is just included to showcase the process and its initial intentions.




As –perhaps– a prelude to WWIII, 2015 opened with the characteristic brutality of our species: more than 2000 people died in the Nigerian town of Baga. Ultimately, the same people who died there would later die again in Syria, Mexico, Beirut and then again –as a closure– in the very City of Light.

In the global spectacle of western media, we’ve been witnessing an exercise of ‘selective grief’. As civil unrest increases –from developed to non-developed countries–, a culture of surveillance and control grows equally stronger.

In the meantime, human bodies fall to the ground like dominoes.

This project aims to visualize those brutal events and tries to place them as equally important, as a symbolic counter-point.

Keywords: violence, war, missing students, police brutality, racism, white privilege, refugees.

Starter code and advisors: Karl Yerkes | Tim Wood
Special thanks to: Kurt Kaminski


A first approach considered using rings to visualize information:
a. Main ring with different sequences being played at the same time.
b. Middle ring with sound reactive bars.
c. Visualizations of deaths per tragic event.

This idea was discarded at the end, but some initial elements remained.

Rotation became an important part of the composition, to avoid static placement or sequences.

At the beginning, the piece was conceived (as the sketch below shows) as a story to be unfolded gradually.



> ( DOWNLOAD The full PDF proposal - 7 MB ) <






The seven following events –from different parts of the planet– were selected:



An african-american student is taken out against her will from a classroom.



Selected photogrpahs from the Mexican rural school of Ayotzinapa: a state crime.




Police ready to attack during the Ferguson unrest in Missouri, US.



A russian missile during a military drill.




Pig Heads left on the entrance of a migrant camp in the Netherlands



Ships with dead bodies in the shores of Japan (presumably with stranded Korean fishermen).



A "terrorist kid" detained.




All these events are presented in the piece with the same weight. Example: a young person dying in Syria –as opposed to the 'real world'–has the same importance as a young person dying in the streets of Paris. Even when they might seen unconnected, all of them construct an ulterior narrative.







Building up from a basic starter code (by Karl Yerkes and Tim Wood), 23 versions were built to achieve the final result. Once a milestone or a specific function was achieved, the main project folder was duplicated.

Here is an unedited version excerpt of each version:






Each sequence was treated like a GIF animation (a group of several connected images). Several sizes were tested to provide the best performance and at the same time, the best graphic results. At the end, no image exceeded a 200px width (or height).

At the beginning, I had the determined intention of making the sequences entirely clear. Slight displacement of pixels provided an 'oil-painting'/particle effect. After a fist test in the AlloSphere, it became clear it was going to be impossible.

As the version history tells, the Sequence Class was majorly re-written to acommodate a VBO Mesh. This allowed to have several sequences at the same time.

At the end, a major decission was also made: instead of displaying all sequences at the same time, just one sequence would be displayed (and repeated with different scales). This offered also an oportunity to focus on one event only. It also opens the posibility to program different sounds and –perhaps– to identify one sequence with a particular sound.






Since in the future, raw –and perhaps brutal– footage will be used for this piece, each vertex of the mesh is distorted on it's 'z' position.

By doing this, the spectator only has a slight suggestion of what's going on, without actually seeing it. Performance on the simulator has a notoriously better resolution than the video embedded above.



The final output in the AlloSPhere renderer:






All sound was programmed in SuperCollider.

* To the left, three synths were built to generate: a simple sine wave, a brown noise with a saw wave, pure white noise.

* To the right, the very sequence used to generate these sounds. Even when the synths are simple, differences in their envelopes and post-production tasks on certain sound channels, generate a much richer sound.

Sound goes out from SuperCollider to SoundFlower(64ch), then to Logic X (which adds reverberation, compression and other operations). Logic X generates the ifnal ouput.

An optimal setting for the piece would be processing sound in real time. However, for this first iteration of the project 25 wav files –treated as loops– were prepared, ready to be randomnly loaded by our program.





A narrative decission was taken at very last stages of the project. The system would include three parts that would loop as long as the piece is running. Instead of having a narrative system based on AtoB, it would be a constantly running experience (perhaps similar to Marclay's clock). These were the three main elements:



1. Epilepsy
It is a sound barrier, a wall that tells the user: the piece has started / the scene is changing.


2. Air
A transition before the actual sequence. Visually it has two types of graphics: spheres rendered as points to generate the illusion of an universe, and stripes rotating in the sphere's perimeter.


3. The Sequence
Longer play time, five meshes with the same content, but with different scales, rotation speeds, and placement.



























– * –

What good could be taken from showcasing horror without hope? This piece tries to be a counter-balance. At the very least, it would place –within the same importance–, tragedies in the developed countries against their –much more frequent– non-developed counterparts.

– * –

The aspect of an actual datavisualization could be used very effectively. Specially if other sources of data are connected. Let's say (going back to the ring/levels idea), one fragment of the sequence could be shown in a visual way. This is, how many people have died in a very specific tragedy? Get this number, and visualize it someway (or even with sound).

– * –

Throughout the process, several system-design decissions were made many times due to a lack of grammar/knowledge –from my part– of both C++ and the AlloSystem. However, at the end, I managed to achieve a level of comfort where I could feel I could indeed program –in the future–, more complex things.

– * –

Let this be a starting point.

– * –

For the future:

Much more sequences need to be added
(hundreds of them!)
A better loading system needs to be implemented as well (from a txt file, perhaps).
Sounds needs to be more precisely controled and –maybe– even spatialized.
VBO Mesh has to be totally solved in the renderers.

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