Mark and Scott have chosen the same subject (physics-inspired differential equations) but have produced such contrasting results! It is like looking at two nudes by different artists. Scott's work is pure and precise with an Edward Weston "f/64" level of detail. Mark is like an artist who uses layers and layers of paint to emphasize motion and overall form. Is there a parallel contrast in the source code? Perhaps. Mark's code relies on layers of "library" code. Scott's program pivots on the exact values of a few variables.
...reading the source code of Scott's piece changed the way I thought about it. Understanding why and how the applet keeps changing even when the mouse is motionless greatly reinforces the themes of the work... whether the source code changes the view of the piece is certainly not intrinsically bad or good. It's an especially interesting dimension to me because, unlike other visual artists, software artists necessarily write a purely verbal description of their work.
Scott gets a lot of mileage out of a very simple idea. And he shows the value of a few well-worded comments. The text completes the piece very succinctly. We all know how magnets work, and that analogy clarifies the behavior of the piece without taking the fun out of it. I especially enjoy that I can animate the piece just by holding down the mouse and moving slightly.
Scott has an unparalleled knack for finding differential equations which have, well, *style*. It bespeaks both a refined eye and a well-honed mathematical intuition. Scott's hand in 'Tripolar' is unmistakable -- and he commands the material to the extent (or is this my imagination?) that it even begins to resemble some of the early-60s graphic designs from which he draws so much inspiration. I think Scott's comment about the setting of constants representing the hand of the artist is right on. In the case of 'Tripolar,' Scott's choices affect both form and behavior, and bring these boomerang forms into a completely dynamic, deeply responsive, and surprisingly personal domain.
It wouldn't have been my first thought to let the piece flicker so much, but Scott's explanation -- that it directly (and honestly) delineates the vagaries of chaotic contingency -- expresses an interesting aesthetic stance at the same time as it provides an absolutely sufficient technical explanation.
I have taken the liberty of "instrumenting" your program with the calls necessary for my program (CodeProfiler) to profile them. Click here.
This is my way of commenting on your code, per our charter.
I like Brad's method of using code to comment on code, so I made an applet to comment on Mark and Scott's applets. It combines Scott's geometry and interactivity with Mark's rendering style.
[Scott: I think this is terrific. You took Mark's model of time and my model of geometry. It's related to the way genetic algorithms can evolve a graphic or animation (Karl Sim's work). However, having a person's mind involved makes this a really fulfilling interaction with intelligence. The work is like an x-ray of my applet, in a way.]
I decided the most natural way to comment on Brad's profiler was to profile it by creating a remix. He did a pretty amazing job of showing the sequential movement and rhythm of the execution point... so I tried to show the opposite in my remix, exploring the parallel operations happening at any given moment.
Click here to watch my program profiling his program profiling itself.
My remix is a subclass of his and follows the same protocol, so the other instrumented programs can be plugged in as well... on the page above you'll also see links to profiled versions of Scott's applet and mine. (It actually shows distinct differences between all of our approaches to threading, although this may be of interest only to programmers!)
I really love the hard edges and jarring animation of Scott's piece. It's also just plain funny, and weird, in a purely visual sense. I very much like how Scott's personality comes across in this work, as it does in all his work. Something I sometimes say, with gentle humor, when describing Scott's art: "He's a practicing Buddhist, it shows quite clearly in his work, and in spite of that, it's still really good." As far as the code, no big surprises, but it gets the job done with brevity, and that his math can produce both chaos and order simultaneously really gets my gears turning.