I'm a writer and visual artist in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

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Working on a little world

I’m working on a little world, or at least a window into one. One thing I want to try is digitally merging a live video stream with other elements, such as computer-generated imagery or prerecorded video. This way I can create something that looks like a video, but that reacts in real-time to movement or sound. I like the idea of making something that appears at first to be a video loop, but is actually a computer simulation with endless variation. This is sort of how procedural generation works in game design.

For A House By The Water I want to build a small model of an island or coastline, but I’m still figuring out what materials to use, and how big it needs to be. For now, a rock will do. Today I walked to the studio along a slightly different route, past a field and a construction site, where I found a large white stone.

I spent most of the afternoon putting together some code to knock out the background from a webcam stream. A blue recycling bin made a pretty good “green screen”, and I was able to superimpose live video of the rock on top of another video (a couple of seagulls). I made a little clip of this process while I moved a light around, so you can see what’s happening.

Green screen rock

I like having the rock here. My studio desk is full of books and equipment, and the rock brings a different sort of presence and purpose. I often work with things that only exist on a screen, and it’s a reminder to stay grounded in the real world. I’ll keep it around so it can keep an eye on me.

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