Ornithology Suite

Seven images of simulated bird flight

In 2012 I taught a course at the School of the Art Institue of Chicago called Code Sourcery. For part of the course I used pre-release code from Daniel Shiffman's stellar book The Nature of Code. The section on steering behaviors, based on Craig Reynold's famous algorithms, particularly caught my attention. Before I knew it, I was developing code for "boids" that could draw as they flew. I added wind and invisible obstacles, and investigated a range of behaviors, from strictly aligned or spaced flocks to drunken and agitated flocks. All of these behaviors became expressive tools. The Ornithology Suite of seven tall prints, each 9 x 27 inches, was one of the culminating products of this effort. Other prints that I selected were grouped as Field Studies. The Ornithology Suite could be read as a narrative of emotional states. Images are sequential, as shown, but I will leave each viewer to determine what the meaning might be, or if there is any meaning beyond openness to meaning.

Prints from both suites were generated by my own interactive application written in Processing—an early version can be found at Open Processing. Graphics were exported to Adobe Illustrator using my IgnoCodeLib Processing library, and rendered at very high resolution in Photoshop. The images in this slideshow are 1600 pixels tall: you can zoom in with the mousewheel or with a two finger gesture on the trackpad in MacOS. I have also provided a detail of each image (a 33% reduction, really).

Ornithology Suite was printed in a special edition on Epson Somerset Velvet 505gsm paper at Ignotus Editions. Three prints and one artist proof were printed for each image. Series 1/3 is only avaialable as a set.