Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County


The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County

processing java application, january 2008 to september 2008

The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County(TFGORC) series is a variation of the old Urban Terrain Generating Project that was started on January 2008.


The premise started out simple enough. Start out with a random number of lines and keep extending them. Should any of the lines hit the edges of the screen or intersect each other, randomly generate another line attached to a previous one at a right angle.

The image generated were interestingly very city-like. Iterations of the program along with variable changes such as the number of lines starting out, the angle of the lines starting out, or even the maximum number of lines generates various types of urban aerial point-of-view:

iteration: start with 1 line and max with 500 lines

iteration: start with 10 lines and end with 5000

Eventually, I was inspired by Spiderman and decided to arrange the beginning lines in a circle. The hope was to generate web-like structures:



Another variation is to arrange two circular points of origins for the beginning lines.



The images generated by this simple algorithm are all very interesting yet the rules of the generation are very simple. Eventually, after finding some time, I decided to put some effort in coloring the images. The color swatches for the following images are taken from Flickr images of Rockland County.

Coloring of the images was done in 3 phases. The first phase draws the lines. The second phase colors the lines. The third phase redraws the finished lines in the first phase. The second phase tends to color over the lines so they had to be redrawn. Since the code was geared towards saving memory and not cpu cycles, the finish product took a really long time. The images below averaged somewhere between 8 to 16 hours. This is due to each line being checked in each iteration. It's terribly inefficient but I might be too lazy to fix it.



I added a textured background tile to create the organic look of these iterations. Below are the better images generated by the algorithm so far. Most of these images and future images generated with algorithm will be found at its Flickr site:






The piece is partially inspired by an exposure to some of my friends in Rockland County, NY. When I first met them, I thought they were from this legendary place called Rockland County where the life was just as ghetto and hardcore as Compton, Harlem, or East LA. One could make the comparison that these colleagues of mine could have passed for the Bloods or Crips.

It wasn't until I decided to drive down to their "hood" and pick one of them up right before we went to college. I was expecting half-burned crack houses, drug dealers on a corner, and the threat of carjackers exist at every stoplight. Five miles into the county I saw neither of these. All I saw were huge suburban houses surrounded by lush gardens and flanked by BMW and Mercedes cars.

I really didn't get it. How did these good old suburban boys mistake themselves as gangbangers? I still blame their fascination with "Boyz N' Da Hood"( a good movie btw) and "Menace II Society". Personally, I think they probably like "Don't be a Menace To Society While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood."


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zebo. The Zaxxon Boss


Zebo. The Zaxxon Boss
3600x1200 Image
Download Here

The 80s holds several sci-fi icons in my head. The Tron Recognizer, Maximillian from the Black hole, and the first video game I have ever fought-The Zaxxon Boss.

I was fascinated by comic books when I was a kid and I spent many afternoons wasting paper inventing and doodling superheroes. As time passed by, my skills in illustration got better and I started carrying around a Moleskin to keep my illustrations.

Eventually, the realities of my computer science studies took away the time for me to draw. I stopped illustrating for a long, long time and my skills has considerably waned. As of right now, I have a small fraction of skills as I used to have when I was in college.

On the other hand, I fell in love with programming and eventually I attempted to mix the two. It is a little bit sad to say that I feel more comfortable putting polygons together in a program than it is to pick up a pencil and draw. To that effect, I decided to draw together three of the coolest robots I have known in the 80s.


The Tron Recognizer was one of those vehicles/robots where the visage just strikes me. It just looks so unusual. Their role in the Tron movie was also somewhat mysterious. Maybe it is that mystery that fascinates me about them.


Maximillian was just one of those scary robots that really freaked me out when I was a kid. That scene in The Black Hole where he skewered a man was one of the first times I remember where I covered my eyes while watching a movie. Nonetheless, I liked him because he was just so menacing. Not to mention he looks like one of those Star Wars Imperial Royal Guards. Anything Star Wars is a bonus in my book.


Then there's this homage to 1950s sci-fi robots. I don't even have a name for it. I just call him the Zaxxon Boss. Zebo for short. I have many fond memories of me piloting my spaceship on this faux 3D plane and shooting this annoying boss of a monster down. Of course, you didn't really shoot him directly. You aim for that heat-seeking rocket that he is powering up to launch at you. Nevertheless, the funky design of this robot left an impression on me. He just looked weird and memorable.

So I decided to create some polygon models of these three and combine them in an image. The original backstory of the image can be found on its Flickr page:

Zebo, the Zaxxon boss, has decided to get even with that pesky rocketship that destroyed his interstellar bachelor's pad in the 1980s.

After investing in Google stock, he has decided it is time to get even. With his gang of friends from the 80's, he has arrived to wreak vengeance on those folks that played Zaxxon and blew him up to smithereens.

The imagery is supposed to portray Zebo as a gigantic general-type leaderbot with Maximillians as his field commanders and the Recognizers as the infantry.

I had a lot of fun creating this image. It took a lot of time since it is polygon-based but it was certainly worth the 30+ hours coding every polygon vertex on it. I still have the master files on this so I might revisit the models at a later time and create even more images.

In the meantime, enjoy the 3600x1200 image.