Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ode to my Ultralord

Today I got an Ultralord; he’s really quite a catch.
I bought him in mint condition, not a single scratch.

But when I opened him up today, I realized something weird.
There was a problem with his voice box, just as I had feared.

My brand new Ultralord, the first thing that he said,
Was to ask whether I liked his nails, and if he should paint them red.

Then I faced Robo-Fiend, and put Ultralord in a fighting stance,
But instead of bringing justice, he wanted to go to the dance.

I prepared my Ultralord for battle, and gave him his laser blaster,
But when he stopped to check his hair, it turned into a disaster.

What is wrong with my Ultralord? He should be protecting space!
He is NOT a Barbie, what does he have makeup on his face?

I want another Ultralord, one that can actually fight,
I’ll give him to my sister, I’m sure he and Ken will get along alright.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Scary Story

Alright my teacher said 'Write a Story like Edgar Allen Poe did.". Being kind of unobservant and hopelessly confused, she did not realize that A) half the class did not know who this was and B) The ones that did had not really read much of his work. In a class of eigth graders, this was the best she was going to get. So, most of us just assumed 'scary' or 'creepily ominous'. Although it probably has nothing to do with Poe, here is my contribution.

Kiera Wolfe
A Poe-like Story

The world exploded in a flash of light as Larry the maintenance man walked into the gold plated atrium in the kingdom of the gods. The double swirly doors of the Mount Olympus Hotel made quietly snobby thwacking noises as they spun around, ferrying tourists into the extravagant foyer. Everything was made of glass. The fa├žade of the building let in the moonlight, which pierced the downy carpeting and threw the plushy couches and exquisite desks into harshly defined shadows.
The new guests swept into the hotel, sighing with relief. The clouds above were growling harshly, threatening to thunder on anyone who displeased them. Larry shook out his umbrella and efficiently stowed it under his jumpsuit-covered arm. He polished his name tag and briskly walked up to the front desk. The black haired and carefully manicured man behind the desk stood up slightly as he approached, looking him up and down, evaluating his worth. After a quick examination, he deemed the situation one that required a haughty aloofness. He straightened up quite a bit more and looked down his nose at Larry.

“Can I help you sir.” He drawled lazily, putting emphasis on his displeasure of using the word when referring to the maintenance man.

“Somebody called about some sort of elevator problem?”

“Oh. Yes. You’re here to fix Bessie aren’t you? Heh, good luck with that one. That old contraption shut down a month ago, won’t move an inch in either direction. The oldest elevator we have really. I don’t see why we just don’t replace it, it’s so useless.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.” Larry peered down at the man’s name tag “Joseph.”

“Oh you will, won’t you?” Joseph replied with a keen smile, showing an unnaturally large amount of teeth. “Now if you excuse me, other repair personnel need to be dealt with. Ones that are actually doing their jobs.” Larry turned, prepared to leave, as a scruffy man wearing a dirty sweatshirt and pants covered in grease shoved him out of the way. He smelled odd, and reeked of something Larry had never smelled before. He glanced at Larry suspiciously, and turned toward Joseph. Ignoring the snub from both parties, he sauntered away thoughtfully. His eyes are two different colors thought Larry, how peculiar.

He paced over to the elevator that Joseph had pointed at and referred to as ‘Bessie’. It was remarkably roomy, as elevators seemed to be these days, and there was a pretty design of wood paneling on the walls. But the lighting was a little off somehow, throwing the whole box into an ominous collection of subtle darkness. He walked inside, undeterred, and opened the maintenance patch in the wall intended for people of his profession. A flashing red light was blinking determinedly next to a plaque that read ‘WEIGHT LIMIT EXCEEDED’. Larry shook his head in confusion. There was no way that he would set off the scale by himself; he was a rather thin man. It would take at least seven people to weigh down the lift past its maximum capacity. He turned to report his findings to Joseph, not looking forward to another interaction with the oily man, but the hair-gelled monster was already standing outside the elevator, tapping his foot impatiently. “So, can you fix it or not, old man?”

“Well it seems that it’s nothing more than a weight problem, she isn’t moving because the machinery has been halted by the alarm.”

“Oh really.” Sneered Joseph skeptically. “And where is all this ‘weight’ coming from?” He added those atrocious air-quotes with his first two fingers around the word ‘weight’. Larry was secretly wondering the same thing. He did a closer examination of the elevator, looking for peculiarities. For the first time, he looked up, and saw a square patch of burgundy surrounding a small break in the flowery embroidery. Upon closer inspection, he found the traces of small bolts where a handle must be fastened on the other side of the patch. He pushed slightly, and did a small hop to push his head above the ceiling of the box.

A name flashed across his vision as he stared into a familiar face. A face that had emblazoned the cover of many a newspaper. A face that nobody had seen among the living for six weeks. Five more similar corpses littered the top of the elevator. One blue eye and one green lit up the darkness. Joseph slammed the doors shut just in time to conceal Larry’s final scream.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Be Exited! Ode To Ultralord


My next Poetry Cafe is about Barbies/Action Figures. I'm thinking on doing an Ode to Ultralord comments? or just speak "barbie girl" rhythmically and see if my teacher notices :P
heres the Jimmy Neutron wiki page entry on Ultralord:
Ultralord is a fictional TV show character in a fictional TV show, with which Sheen Estevez and his family is really obsessed with. Also there are a series of action figures out. In the show his worst enemy is Robo-Fiend, but Sheen often says that he battled many enemies like "The predatrous plants." Ultralord has many merchandise products, such as masks, action figures, clothes, and more. In the feature film, Sheen receives an Ultralord mask from an Ultralord mascot. Sheen's dad also has an Ultralord mask that he wears often.

What Motivates You The Most To Do Well In School? (APP)

A smile can mean a lot of things. A smile could be a gesture, meant to convey a content or happy disposition. A smile could be a cheery hello to your neighbor in the morning. A smile could be a window to experience the pure glee of another. Or, a smile could be a thinly veiled challenge, a test of wit and determination between peers. As I sit impatiently in my algebra class, waiting for a test to land on my desk, I share such an expression with my desk partner. Our eyes lock, and our eyebrows raise, and we swiftly look away. But that was enough to convey a myriad of emotions and suggestions. That simple glance was the throwing down of the gauntlet, the first swish of the red flag that forever tempts the bull. That simple connection says:

"I have defeated many an algebra test, and I have no intention of losing to a feeble minded hooligan like you. I WILL get an AMAZING grade and promptly throw it in your face. You just wait for your slow and disgraceful academic downfall." We look down, shuffle our papers, and then turn towards each other again. I casually shrug as if to say:

"It’s your call. Defeat this challenge or forever live in mind-shattering shame." Then, I look back down at my paper, intent on getting an A. This silent face off is what motivates me to do well in school. The secret challenges of intelligence that go on every day. A constant battle between myself and all the pressures in my life. It comes at me from all sides; my peers, constantly motivating me to improve and prove my own intellect; my family, pressuring me to do as well as they have; and the society I live in, forcing everyone of my generation to have a different outlook than the previous ones on the norms of education . My classmates, family, and age group all over the world are getting smarter every day. I incessantly strive to keep up with my entire environment, and personally think I’m doing pretty well. Whatever it is, fear, hope, pressure, or even OCD that motivates my generation to succeed in school is obviously doing a bang-up job, and I can only imagine the amazing things that these forces will push us to accomplish.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Uuuuuggggh :: Artisitic Obstructions

Bleh, so I just presented by entire body of work to my Concept Studio class, and the assignment was that they had to come up with an obstruction that would destroy my ordinary work flow and force me to create something different? better?

That is yet to be determined.

Anyway, it was decided that my next piece has to be
a.) Collaborative
b.) Instinctive/Reactive to real world events
c.) Not involve computers

They were having a hard time cracking down on just one technique I typically employ. I'm just extraordinarily grateful they aren't making me do performance art ( my undeniable weakness!). On the other hand I'm extremely frustrated that they banned me from using computers. Its a relatively new addition to my traditional arsenal, and I was looking forward to doing more digital work : ( I feel like they just really wanted me to do something they could easily understand, without long winded logic/explanations, but I also feel like those are completely unnecessary to enjoy my last few works, they just receive them since they ask for them : P

I might call on you again to collaborate, I really want to try my hand at architecture or building SOMETHING. I'm not as satisfied purely by 2D work. I agree that typically I'm super uncomfortable involving anyone else in what I do, but I wonder if it still counts if the collaborator is someone I know really well?

Mmmm and I've really only recently made this shift to heavily relying on my vast computer knowledge since they pushed me so hard to do so during Sophomore Review. Now I don't want to go back! Ha!

gaaaaaah must think of something!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Foilman: A Poem

Inspired by The Epeeman, by Ralph Goldstein

The Foilman, the Foilman, truly the best of the bunch,
The Sabreman, the Epeeman, he could eat them both for lunch.
The Foilman is the only one, who possesses true finesse,
The Foilmen own the board, in the game of fencer’s chess.
A Foilman is quick and sly; he always keeps his wit,
‘Hide your moves, keep it small, and make them the ones to quit.’
The Foilman is like a dancer, always on his toes,
A Foilman can lunge and leap, and always fool his foes.
The Foilman is calculating, analyzing your every move,
And no parry can stop the Foilman, once he’s in the groove.
But the Sabreman, the Epeeman, they really aren’t so bad,
They deserve a little stanza, but really just a tad.
The Sabreman is ferocious, slashing from overhead,
And if he doesn’t want to use tact, he can just bop you on the head.
The Epeeman can take a challenge, in that I must concur,
He has to guard and attack everything, moving as a blur.
But the Foilman, the Foilman, always victorious on the mat,
To him, and me, and all the rest, to them I tip my hat.

Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse: A Poem

Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse
During a zombie apocalypse, your main goal is to survive,
The number one rule - that zombie is not your friend come back alive.

2. Always know your enemy, and of its strengths take note,
For if you ignore a zombie’s might, it will be quickly at your throat.
Pay special attention to a zombie’s teeth, hands, and smell,
You see, as a zombie gets older, its awful odor will swell.

3. Don’t forget a zombie’s weaknesses, for you don’t have to take flight,
If you think you are ready for the task, by all means, stay and fight.
A zombie certainly lacks in coordination, intellect, and speed,
With knowledge and preparation before, you will certainly succeed.

4. Avoid infection at all costs, and above every other aim,
Cover up as much as possible, to avoid joining the zombie game.

5. At all times, attempt to be resourceful; your terrain is always vital,
Try to avoid theatrics; this isn’t your second grade recital.

If that day comes around, where all of humanity must get up and brawl,
Make sure you educate everyone, so that our species does not fall.
Do not ignore the zombies, they aren’t fake like Nessie and Cupid,
BUT ABOVE ALL REMEMBER, THAT MUMMIES ARE ETERNALLY STUPID!

Naoqi :: Robot Soccer :: Vision


(Thanks to Kiera for taking this video on her new snazzy Droid : P )

So this is the robot I've been doing research on, we're programming them to play soccer in teams of four! I have a wonderful partner, and we're hoping to destroy everyone else by the end of the semester. Right now all it does is find the ball and kick it, which sounds pretty simple but is actually fairly difficult.

 :: Technical Stuff ::     (feel free to skip if this kind of thing makes your eyes glaze over)
The robot is a "Nao" and it essentially runs a mini version of ubuntu, you can ssh into it wirelessly or with an ethernet cable and copy your compiled code and type commands into the command line. However, its memory is pretty small, so typically all we do is run our written behaviors on the robot itself. The cool part is that you start with basically nothing, you have to control everything from the "eyes" to each joint.

First off, here is what it sees through its "eyes" (read : camera).


The top image is the raw feed, and the bottom is the parsed version the robot actually uses to determine its actions after we run our vision algorithm on it. Right now we're just doing ball tracking, so we determine the purest color of each pixel, (right now the only relevant ones for us are orange and green) and search for orange ones. If there is no orange present, it does a pretty sparse search, only one out of six pixels. Once it locates something that might be a ball, it does a much more refined search in only that area, and will search that area first in the next frame.

This makes our code run much faster and allows the robot to react more quickly to changes in the ball's position since it doesn't have to look at every single pixel each time.

We are also super cool, so instead of figuring out which quadrant in vision the ball is located and then moving accordingly (like we used to do in the picture above), we now do visual servoing (as seen in the video)

The robot ALWAYS keeps the ball in the center of its vision by moving its head if it sees it, and then aligns the body with the head in order to precisely line up with the ball. It then checks if the ball is in its right or left field of vision to kick!

That's all for now, I'll post on goal finding next, and then on my latest and greatest art project : P

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Face Synth


faceSynth. Second part of the visual score project, we were assigned someone else's project to make sound/visuals from. I had Gabe's; essentially he had 67 or so images of faces and directions for a percussive piece involving them. I had no intention on doing that, so instead I created this app that takes the RGB values of each pixel in  the face and translates it to visuals/sound.

Eventually I want to rig it up so the audience can take their picture in a booth set up with the appropriate lighting, and their face gets sent to the app in real time, so they can hear their own faces throughout the performance.

Press spacebar to see the face image being parsed, and click to skip to the next one. The sound is still a little wonky/creepy, but I'm okay with it

http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/akwolfe/apps/faceSymphOsc/index.html

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

waves

And here are some from the waves app




This sketch builds off my last one, extending into 3 dimensional space. Its pretty processor hefty so I have two versions

(hmm so i just discovered that this thing runs at blinding speed if your computer isn't worthless like mine. I'll get around to fixing it, promise : /  )

click here to see waves if you have a decrepit laptop clinging to life like me
or
here if you have a beast of a machine that lets you physically travel through ssh tunnels and bend the internet with your mind.

Flow

Alright so here are some screens from the flow visualizer.



This one was just a practice sketch, based off the processing noise() example, found here. The noise() function works off the algorithm by Ken Perlin to generate a " more natural ordered, harmonic succession of numbers". It was used in a lot of the early movie special effects to generate terrain.

Here, I'm use it to make a sort of pseudo "sine" wave like those generated by music. I took their sample, switched out the lines for points, repeated it on the x, y plane and changed the movement from being dependent on the mouse to an animation. Part of a body of work to connect sound to a physical form for concept studio.

I am a god of visualizers!

Here's the hard links to the apps I've been working on for concept studio. Essentially we had to create a visual score that represents some sort of music, and then we traded and had to create sound out of someone elses. Formal documentation later.


Here are my scores
flow
waves


Reactive sound
This one gets kind of loud, I'm working on dynamically creating sound based on the color values of the pixels, but the results get kind of unpredictable. Press space bar to see the face that its currently parsing.
faceSymp