Kevin Webster: metacosm

Kevin Webster is a senior Broadcast Design and Motion Graphics student as SCAD who’s been working furiously on an ambitious self-initiated project for over a year. (He’s that guy in the computer labs with bloodshot eyes and a three-day beard glued to a wall of Cinema Displays.)

Kevin’s project, metacosm, is a meditative mix of generative art and motion graphics. It’s probably best for me to quote his artist’s statement here:

We often take for granted the amazing and wonderful forces of this world, forces that are at work all around us. The graceful journey of a bird’s flight is one of the most amazing natural phenomena. The metacosm project explores the beauty of that graceful journey using color and shape to produce a detailed record of flight.

The metacosm project is a system that simulates the flight of a bird. Nearly every aspect of the simulation is randomly chosen from a limited pool of options. The flight from this simulation is then recorded and represented as color and shape.

Using MEL scripting and a grab bag of other tricks, Kevin has created a generative system that interprets the natural phenomenon of flight through his own artistic lens. As he explains in his artist statement, almost everything—cameras, animation paths, colors, even the bird’s behavior—are randomly selected and used to build the simulation. Once the system is started, it will generate flight after flight ad infinitum, each one unique and surprising.

Prior to this project, Kevin really didn’t know much about the technical side of metacosm. He taught himself all the necessary coding skills to create his system. And believe me, if you saw the code for this monster, you’d realize just what a feat that was.

metacosm Premier at Inspire 08

The end product is a large-scale video installation. You can get a feel for it by watching the proof of concept videos on the metacosm project homepage (click the boxes at the top of the page), but to really understand it, you’ll need to see it in person. The premier exhibition will be at the Inspire 08 conference at SCAD on April 18th, during the (mt) Media Temple After Party.

Kevin is one of those rare individuals who needs only an open, encouraging environment and some time to make amazing work. I can’t wait to see where he ends up after graduating this spring.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.

One Comment


Man, I bet that is going to look really awesome as an installation. Wish I could make it to the conference this year.

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