29 March 2011

Computatonal Design using toxiclibs

I had the chance to attend a brilliant workshop at the V&A taught by the amazing Karsten Schmidt.

The workshop every Tuesday from the start of February to the start of March it covered a lot interesting topics. That was partly because, we, as attendees were coming from different backgrounds: Mathematics, Graphic Design, Web Development, GIS, Digital Arts, Architecture, etc.

Since the majority did not have background in programming, we started with the basics, and managed to get some bouncing shapes on the screen, which is not a bad start.

Then we moved on to recursion and symmetry, which was a bit of a mental exercise for some to fully absorb through code, but as the saying goes: "To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion".

The course moved to more advanced topics like Spring (Verlet) Physics, which we later applied to simple data visualisation using clusters. Here is a sample which loads a csv file containing attendee names and a table id:

As the projects got more complex we moved from the minimal Processing IDE to Eclipse.
After learning how to use external Java libraries, like JFlickr (a java wrapper for the Flickr API) we used geolocation data to plot images on a sphere:

The part I enjoyed the most was moving to 3D and procedural modeling. Karsten was kind enough to bring his CraftRobo and an unwrapping library he is working on. What this means is, we could generate 3D structures on a computer, which could be unwrapped into 2D to be cut and folded in paper and assembled in 3D in the real world. Pretty impressive stuff!