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Chaos Engine – Red Nose Edition


normally my blogs are read by a few friends,a couple of members of my cohort in Interactive Media degree final year at University of Wales, Newport and the random happen-uponers. But last week i replied to a tweet from Creative Review (@CreativeReview) about hoping to sell some prints from my Chaos Engine for Comic Relief.

The Chaos Engine

and my blog readership rocketed to hundreds rather than the tens that it normally settles at.

The Chaos Engine has been set to track red, and the red-est thing around is the red nose. So my plans for Comic Relief are:

Wednesday 16 March 2011 – Grand official opening of the City Centre Campus in Newport, so anyone that is walking around will be invited, i was thinking A4 poster on the window, to have a swing on  the chaos engine, and print off the results for quid or 2, i did a trial last week:


Chaos Engine for Red Nose Day trial
Chaos Engine for Red Nose Day trial

But I ain’t sure that i’m going to get much passing traffic up in D9, (please pop in you’re around) so i’m keen to email runs of the Chaos Engine on the assurance that you’ll give an extra bit (50p, quid, 2 quid, whatever you can spare) to Comic Relief. To do this either tweet me your email @aChaosEngine (or follow me, i’ll follow you, and you’ll be able to email me your address confidentially, phew!) or email directly to and i’ll run the engine, send you your unique RND print as jpg and you’ll be credited (in what ever way you choose) on the deviantART site.

The email options are gonna be open from now available til tea-time (5ish) on Friday, i reckon that i can only generate about 300 a day, first come first served and next available public show of Chaos engine in Newport in May and June 2011. see for more details.

I’ve set up the file save to register when the save is hit, so the final image will include day-month-yr-hour-min-sec and be utterly unique because of that, let alone the chaotic action.

The Chaos Engine is a piece of kinetic sculpture that represents the mathematics and structure of fractals created by the three body problem. The 3 body problem was ‘solved’ by Henri Poincare late in the 19th century and although Henri didn’t know it at the time but in his solution the mathematics of Chaos were revealed.

Henri’s problem was looking at the stability of the Earth, Moon, Sun system to mimic this has been mirrored as i’ve used opposing strong magnets in the base and end of the pendulum to create a chaotic mix of forces that echoes the mathematical problem resolved by Henri Poincare.

Through video tracking the path of the pendulum, a red nose’s journey will be traced into processing on a Mac so that a print can be taken of the fractal image and a copy of the work will also be uploaded to deviantART, each unique in form, time and space.

So the ‘ Engine now has it’s own existence (which is very cool, imo)  :

Twitter – please feel free to follow, atm it’s only me. (and i’m looking like a stalker to a tripod! and more followers will help to give it it’s own identity. (i hope it aint a bigot against anything with less than 3 legs.))
DeviantArt – I joined earlier, as the engine, tonight and really enjoyed writing what the machine thinks of me. That helps the separation between me and the work… hopefully.

phew, don’t i go on, thanks for reading, here’s something automatically beautiful:

14 feb

Chaos Engine

Isn’t it? gs.


Video problems


I thought I’d already posted this so soz if I’m repeating.

For the video capture aspect of the chaos engine I am using a Sanyo mini dv camera. I tried 3 webcams and found them all lacking for brightness and frame rates so had to use a video camera.

Unfortunately the capture area of the camera is only 55 by 44cms, I could really do with 90cm square. To get closer I have bought a .5 wide angle lens that should get my capture area to 83 by 66… And I’ll report what my 20 quid eBay spec can deliver. The option was a 80 quid .2 fish eye from the Newport camera shop.

My new lens will be here by Wednesday, so I’m going into uni with it and a printer for a tech run of the chaos engine.

Main unknown ( in the Rumsfeld sense) is how I can get the Mac automator to print on just one click?

Any hints?

Impossibilities – beginning of the end

hello, how ya doing?

Semester 2, of my final year of my 3 year degree in Interactive Media started yesterday, 21st February 2011. The culmination is the exhibitions.

1st we are at the Riverfront in Newport, setting up on 3rd May, hopefully press on 4th before public shows start on 6th, we gotta get out by the 10th i believe, so if you can come let me know and you’ll be on the list for opening night.

After we get out of the Riverfront, as well as rebuilding and refining our work we gotta hand in our professional practice module on-line by 4pm on Wednesday 25th May before the Exhibition presentation and hand in at 10am on Thursday 26th May.  Our part of the university grad show is on show at the City Centre Campus in Newport, though the actual room/space we will be showing still has to be agreed.

The word that was decided on a few weeks ago to encapsulate all this wonderful was “impossibilities” or “IMpossibilities” if you can accept it being a joined-up-ed-ness of “IM” (Interactive Media) with the nice idea that “possibilities” can be generated from this process.

Wrong Rubik's Cube

Wrong Rubik's Cube

Roles were allocated in the in the monday afternoon session, i got CEO and treasurer, probably the right roles given my accountancy background although i was never told what CEO actually meant, i thought it meant Criminal Executive Overpower but was prepared to accept that it might be Corporeal Extoplasm Originator, i look forward to acceptance by the rest of my cohort, it should lead to world domination.

Wrong Royal Straight

Wrong Royal Straight

So now, we swim in impossibilities, what up is down… didn’t Armstrong and Miller do that?  anyhoo,  more soon.

circumference and width.


i been considering the problem of width of a circle which is it’s diameter and the circumference, especially if you squash the circle flat.


Zumba bangle

the width is the diameter, any straight line thru the centre of the circle, it is the width times pi that gives the circumference. if you squash the bangle flat, it would be half the circumference. so a circle that is 1 unit in diameter would be 3.14 circumference and it would be 1.57 if layed flat.

here is a list of numbers that may not make sense but I like ’em:

diameter circumf flat width
1 3.14 1.57
10 31.40 15.70
42 131.88 65.94
44 138.16 69.08
46 144.44 72.22
48 150.72 75.36
50 157.00 78.50
52 163.28 81.64
54 169.56 84.78
56 175.84 87.92
58 182.12 91.06
61 191.54 95.77
69 216.66 108.33
76 238.64 119.32
width circumf diameter
1 2 0.64
10 20 6.37
42 84 26.75
44 88 28.03
46 92 29.30
48 96 30.57
50 100 31.85
52 104 33.12
54 108 34.39
56 112 35.67
58 116 36.94
61 122 38.85
69 138 43.95
76 152 48.41

interesting what the difference is, dontcha think? though the 2nd table is closer they are still a bit out. So if one was using the ‘width’ as the squashed flat bangle distance then the diff could be the thickness of the bangle. The top down width, ie how wide a circle looks top is quite different in the last column.

mmm, makes my brain boil.

laters, gs

Processing, saveFrame or clear it


I had some success yesterday tracking the red end of the Chaos Engine pendulum, the capture is using tracking software on processing. it is based on Brightness Tracking by Golan Levin that is available in the examples that come with the software

As the pendulum swings, the software tracks the end and joins a line between the redest points in the camera’s field of vision. The actual area that the camera needs to cover is quite large, about a metre squared, so capturing it all may require a fish eye lens. Also fixing the camera to the tripod didn’t really work with my usual solution of loads of packing tape, so today i ordered a gorilla to hold it in place, hopefully.

One of the problems i am facing is the printing of the user generated fractal (fingers crossed). So I have adapted  Ira Greenberg’s sketch. It saves the image generated as a jpeg to the sketch folder, from there i can use the Mac’s automator program to take this image and print it out directly, see here. (Ta to Jon for finding that for me)

And also how to automatically upload to a flickr account, here, more Jon thanks due!

So the sketch below, that you can copy into processing to try if you want, uses the mouse to make lines and some lovely blendy stuff too, when you have a screen you want to save press the UP arrow key and it will be saved to your sketch folder. If you press the DOWN arrow it will just clear the screen to start again.

gary smith’s adjusted version of hairy brush drawing
Ira Greenberg, oct 06.
outputs to jpg in sketch folder

void setup() {
String id = str(hour())+”_”+str(minute())+”_”+str(second());


void draw() {
stroke(random(255), random(255), random(255));
if (mousePressed){
line(pmouseX, pmouseY, mouseX, mouseY);
bleed(pmouseX, pmouseY);

void bleed(float x, float y){
float px = 0, py = 0, angle = 0, radius=10;
float brushDetail = 36;
stroke(random(255), random(255), random(255));
for (int i=0; i<brushDetail; i++){
px = x+cos(radians(angle))*random(radius);
py = y+sin(radians(angle))*random(radius);
line (x,y,px,py);

//press up key to output as jpg
void keyPressed(){
if (key == CODED){
if (keyCode == UP) {

//press down key to clear screen
else if (keyCode == DOWN) {

dont know if that can be copied, give it a go and tell me…

cheers then, gs


More of Making an exhibition of myself

The private view for the Sin Aesthetic show on Friday went well, i even drank Lambrini!

The peril of doing interactive artworks is keeping the bugger together, in one piece and working. This has not happened for Immobile Phone, a friend of my wifes was up there on Sunday and pushed the mouse trackerball thru the painting.

So yesterday I had to spend an hour, using heaps of tape, to stick the trackerball mouse back into the middle of the painting. Not that the mouse is even plugged in, the only interaction withthe piece is the camera but it seems that people just wanna touch stuff.

The processing/programming aspects of the Chaos Engine moved on some today, the software now tracks the redest pixel of the video feed and draws a line joining its points together. Gonna have to hope that there are no bits for punters can break, and that the build is safe as houses.

hmm, tara.

ps the exhibition goes on til March 26th ish (see poster on last post for details) so if you do go along please drop me a line as to whether Immobile Phone is still in one piece and working, ta.

Making an exhibition of myself

Just a quick note to say that my “Immobile Phone” is being exhibited here in Pontypool in a group show at the Museum.

Instead of being able to use the phone as a phone over the Internet, which museum would not like, I have used the webcam in it to show motion of viewers.
Here is the poster for the show, if you wanna come along to private view tmrw evening then I got a few invites left, contact me.