A university assignment related to “collage as drawing” sent me running off to make a generative collage-making machine.

While exploring the idea of gollage made using a software-assist, I encountered Ben Bogart’s Dreaming Machine #3, which started me thinking about how our eyes and brain perceive the world.

When we look at an object, there’s only a small area of “good” vision right at the point that we’re gazing, while the rest of our field of view is far less resolved. The brain, clever thing that it is, builds a predictive model of the outside world for us, so that we can avoid angry lions while seeking out tasty morsels for our tribe to eat on the ancient plains.

I decided to make a machine that builds interactive digital collages from an ever-changing set of subject matter, a series of ink-in-water drawings that I’d previously made in response to the prompt word, “Spring”.

#ocabloom: ink in water drawings, A5 sketchbook
#ocabloom: ink in water drawings, A5 sketchbook

The result uses the mouse pointer as a proxy for the viewer’s gaze, while dragging the mouse pointer across the surface resolves detailed fragments of the underlying subject matter, dissolving away when the viewer looks elsewhere.

A fun project, and I can imagine it rebuilt to use eye-tracking instead of the mouse pointer, or perhaps hand-tracking in a monumental wall-sized installation setting.

Published by Steve Meyfroidt

Artist, Scientist, Technologist

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