I first happened upon Ben Fry and Casey Reas’ a/v-oriented programming language, Processing, when I attended FITC back in 2005. (I even did a little write-up about it on Tween.) Since then, Processing has caught on like wildfire. Visualists of all stripes have discovered how usefulâ€”and funâ€”it can be to create generative and/or interactive systems with surprisingly simple bits of code.
Initially, Processing attracted a lot of Flash developer/designers who were frustrated by Flash’s then stunted abilities at handling bitmap data and 3D space. (Current versions of the Flash player do support pixel-level manipulation of bitmaps, in addition to many other real-time effects that seemed impossible only a few short years ago.)
Through Flight404, an ongoing experiment in visualization, interaction and design, Robert Hodgin proved himself to be an envelope-pusher when it came to Flash. It makes perfect sense, then, that he jumped on the Processing bandwagon and is now creating breathtakingly beautiful projects like “Nova” and “Magnetosphere,” seen below.
The Flight404 blog gives you a little insight into the process behind each work, with generous linkage and occasional bits of source code that can help you start thinking like a Processing pro. Robert’s work is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of visualists are using Processing for everything from performance art to mapping the human genome. But I think Robert’s sensitivity to music and ambiance create a nice entry point into the world of a programmatic visualization for the uninitiated.
I’ll try to make more Processing posts in the future. In the meantime, feast on this:
Thanks for the nudge, Sean.