Baku Hashimoto

橋本 麦

Not Moving Sofa Problem

This piece visualizes “the moving sofa problem” as a kinetic sculpture. The “sofa” moves through the L-shaped corridor forward and backward repeatedly.

I mainly used Cinema4D and Python to calculate and design this piece. Cutting all parts with a laser cutter, sanding its surface for three days.

Aesthetic Coherence

Admittedly, the natural of computation has always inspired me and it’s much more than an enabler, but it can be neither subject nor motif of my work. Programming would unleash us the limitation of commoditized software just like Adobe. On the other hand, it imposes us another limitation of graphical expression at the same time and tends to distract us from aesthetic improvement.

It’s much less than just an idea to think about only which technology and devices to use and what concept to argue. It’s not important compared to its look, feels, and atmosphere, after all. In other words, the technology and concept behind it could be important for viewers only if the work has aesthetic coherence and beauty.
Art is not topology. Some of planners or media artists tend to focus on connecting context and context, tech and tech, buzzword and buzzword too much but this only means constructing its topological structure. I think art is continuum and the feeling of material of the nodes and branches themselves.

I’m so bored about the context of ‘art & tech’ but I think artists arguing such a statement should do R&D in term of both technological and aesthetic aspects simultaneously, so to speak. The art produced by who distinguishes tech development and artistic depiction feels like just a stylish demo of cutting-edge technology.

Capture from Please Say Something by David O’Reilly

Here’s one of texts I’ve deeply been impressed ever. It describes very important notion not only for CG animators but also for new media artists.

Nov 16, 2016

As making both of generative stuff and videos using keyframe-based animation, I become not able to distinguish what can be ‘generative’.
I’ve heard the news that the poem written by AI. But it was actually modified by human and the part of AI remained only 30%. I was so confused about the evidence why they can argue such a statement. The cut-up technique is much more generative, isn’t it? Even though it is irrelevant from digital technology.

I’m still wondering whether is it allowed for generative art to modify the output of a program by hand. How far can artists interfere the generative process intentionally to keep their work called as a generative art.

I’ve often deployed very laborious ways for my works. I’d composited more than 5000 street view images with stop-motion footages frame by frame. I also made clay-animation with my friends. But since I’ve used programming and Kinect to make in-house tools, shooting system or custom visual effects, some of reporters introduced me as the artist who’s trying to integrate technology and art and has made his artwork by programming. On each time I’ve wanted to say “No, it’s not automatically generated indeed but mostly made by my hand!”. My only concern is how to improve my works, even if it can be a cheat in usual generative manner.

From my standpoint, the only difference between things called ‘generative’ and others is whether it is created using programming or commoditized tools. Suppose there’s a video that bunch of beautiful particles is flowing. If it is made by After Effects using Particular, the popular plugin for particle simulation, I assume it won’t be called a generative art. But if was a screen capture of openFrameworks sketch, most people will regard it as generative one.

As I’ve described, I think generative art is mostly context-dependent. The term is not mentioning its art style. Anyway, my concern is the possibilities that to try to make it generative might distract artists from improving their arts. Sometimes it’s better to make mesh and textures using Cinema4D and Photoshop rather than to use built-in primitives of OpenGL. When it comes to post-effects, it can be much cooler to use a real film grain footage than shader noise. Although that is so niche topic, I’d like to write down my thought and tips for generative arts as like ‘The Book of Shader’.

SFPC Homework: Plan my week without Google

Conclusion: it’s impossible after all.

Let’s see, suppose I’ll use Firefox instead of Google Chrome, and Bing instead of Google Search, OpenStreetMap for Google Map, Facebook Messenger instead of Gmail, and so on. However, there’s still the shadow of Google. Most of the news website is embedding ads and it’s usually served with Google AdSense. And some of them are using Google Analytics to collect the visitors’ information. Okay, I can use some Ad Blocker and an add-on to prevent from tracking. But it doesn’t mean that I’m free from Google.

In this July, Google and some corporations began the operation of the submarine cable called FASTER, which connect East Asia and North America. So if I visited Japanese website, or just using FaceTime with my girlfriend, some of the packets might go through it and I cannot deny the possibilities they steal it. In addition to Japanese website, there’s certain possibilities my packets is sent via it because of DNS or Data Center.

In short, we are always connected with Google in some meaning, even if we stop using Google services immediately. I think this is one of natural the Internet, that huge of decentralized system has intrinsically. Whether I can be free from Google for a week depends on the definition what does “without Google” mean. It could be just like:

  1. without Google services
  2. without Google infrastructures
  3. without any interference by Google

We only realize (1).

Although it’s just my standpoint, I take the service for granted and give up my privacy willingly. It’s not cynicism, but rather we already have a lot of issues relating our privacy when it comes to that topic. There’s an interesting comparison.

Hacking vrs Defaults

I know I could have such a optimistic thought thanks to the people who living in the Hacking side. If all of us are Defaults side and there’s no Snowden, the world could be getting much worse because of the profit of the huge cooperations.

The conclusion is: there’s no choice to take Google granted. But we always have to have an awareness about what could happen possibly by giving up our personal information.

SFPC Oct 11th: Three Questions

What you want SFPC to be

I would not like to say so much conceptual and abstract things. What I hope SFPC is to stay cool simply. I think the method of “sharing process and code” doesn’t come from a kind of moral or conscience, but just for a kind of efficience. I think so many young students interested in new media art want to be a cool artist, but some of them who don’t have a background in hacker culture doesn’t consider it as important at least in Japan. So I’d like SFPC to be an icon of new media arts on the earth, and spread the sense of value that “sharing some stuff is not only kind but also cool as an artist”.

What do you want to make at SFPC

I might be saying the same things again, however, I would like to make a video at the end. It’s just an idea of this moment, I’m planning to build a sort of interactive website, which has stunningly beautiful color and impressive texture. I already have an image for it, however, it’s too difficult to explain on Medium. If I was to say, it might look like chromatography or something.

On the other side, I’ve been hooked on the problem: “How to integrate a generative approach and hand-made approach”. In this case generative means using creative-coding framework, procedural, realtime. Hand-made means timeline-based, designing frame-by-frame, or some laborious work. I always like generative approach as an engineer. However, as motion graphics designer, I’ve thought such a kind of method add a look of works some certain similarities. In short, so many digital works looks like Tron:Legacy, Minority Report. Using a method which has developed in video production field in generative approach could resolve this problem. So I’d like to explore and expand possibilities of it. And then, I’m planning to archive the website as video before it becomes unavailable.

(This statement might be too abstract. I think below my work is good example for it. Which combined with stop-motion, kinect, and openFrameworks.)

What can you teach and share

(Japanese, interesting terrain I’ve found at Google Maps, Anime, basic use of terminal and git)

As I mentioned, I have a background in video production. Although I’m not a good engineer and much less hacker, I can teach my experience using both ways of creative-coding and timeline-based video production. For example, how to export keyframes from Cinema4D and play it on a browser with Three.js. Or how to control DMX using Cinema4D. It is still so niche though…

Anyway, I’m planning to share an idea and process of my ongoing graduation work as much as possible while the school term.

SFPC Oct 21st: The Smartest Computer on the Planet

Today it was the first class of Ramsey Nasser, a computer artist and designer. In this few year, I’ve tried to consider and relativize programming as one of painting tools such like brush, pencil, and plaster. However, through this class, I came to think it might be a bit unreasonable, at least with the present.

Programming is still depending on a text information, unlike other painting tools. In addition, there’s significant latency between ‘implementing’ and ‘executing’. If I put an oil color to canvas, I can see its result momentarily. However, Programming cannot behave such like this. So I inspired his thought that ‘Processing is not enough for instinctive creative coding since it has “Run” button.”

How to make programming more instinctive tool? Now I assume programming itself could not be instinctive forever. And what we can do with programming will be able to be achieved by GUI with the times. I don’t mean humankind will not need programming near future. However, coding as implementing variables, functions following to very struct syntax will be not essential except for few people, like even professional creative coder doesn’t need to write an assembly language anymore.

On the other hand, highly encapsulated system and software tend to put a limit on artists’ imagination unconsciously. Many graphic designers who using Illustrator barely come up with procedurally created logo because it doesn’t allow them to draw with a more generative approach. So no matter how the technology develops, we as new media artists still have a role to explore lower-level layers of computation, hack them, and inspire the other artists whose idea are limited by the design concepts of their software.

SFPC Oct 19: Meet the Students

Today is the day “Meet the Student” event held. Since it’s a first time to have a presentation in English in my Life, I’d been so nervous. Anyway, I’m now relieved as my speech somehow appeared to made sense for audience…

Although this is just my standpoint, nothing is a better way than to show what someone has made and achieved to introduce oneself as an artist or maker. Each of them has their own thought, belief, and stance and we can talk about so conceptual and idealistic story related to that. However, there’s no meaning if their works don’t reflect such an idea. This is why I won’t talk about what I haven’t achieved yet as much as possible. I can’t make sure my way of presentation worked as well, though.

By the way, I’d like to explain how I’m thinking about the recent tech buzzwords such like IoT, VR, Deep Learning and so on. It might make some people confused. I didn’t intend to harm someone working in these field. I’m still respecting and getting inspired by such an important breakthrough or paradigm shift. On the other side, I think there is a kind of politics in this industry. Some of the new media arts appear to be just a competition about how early does someone turn such a new technology into an eye-catching entertainment. I think it’s a kind of populism. I know such works also have an important role in this society and don’t intend to deny themselves. But I personally prefer so niche works by artists who are stubborn and having fetichism. Such a kind of bias makes them unique and impressive. A work without a certain imagination is just a demo of the new technology. (Of course, I’ve used Kinect, 3D printings, and Oculus Rift. That was so fun.)

Anyway, the event was so exciting (only after finished my presentation haha) and I was so interested to hear about classmates’ work by their own word. I got more excited for the upcoming program.

SFPC Oct 17th: What’s the poetic Computation

In this Monday, we discussed the definition of the poetic computation. Each of us has a various perspective to a kind of programming, and such a difference is inspiring for me. So I’d like to write down how I’m thinking about the topics at the moment.

In short, being poetic with computation is to think a computer as an extension of one’s body. In particular, someone who is practicing it doesn’t aware of using a computer and only think of what to make. Which is that a poet doesn’t consider how to move their pen on a paper.

I know it’s just an idealistic thought and a computation itself is still hard and not instinctive compared to a pen. However, the easier computation becomes, the more seamless we might feel about it. Just like writing characters used to be much more hard in the era of slete before humankind invented a paper and a pen.

And I think, before thinking about poetic computation, it could be some clue to consider about what is “not” poetic computation.

In these days, there are so many works insisting “Art & Code”. They make me inspiring everyday, however, some of them has a tendency to be misled by fashion and tech buzzwords such like VR, deep learning, and the MAKERS movement.

To regard technology itself as a purpose is just a demo rather than poetic. The most important thing for art is what it looks like, smells, and feels after all. (And sometimes context.) Therefore I think that its texture, colors, and atmosphere should come to first than which technologies will be used and combined. I don’t mean it’s evil to think like “We have Oculus Rift! So what to make with this!?”. New device and technique still bring us a new idea. However, we should have an imagination and philosophy for the work even if it’s unpredictable like generative arts. New media art without fetishism and biased preference can’t be impressive, at least for me.

This is my thought for poetic computation. Someone could disagree with my idea, but it’s also interesting for me and I’d like to discuss.

Controlling Unpredictability

In my view, what’s the matter of being ‘generative’ is controlling unpredictability. We were talking about this topic but I couldn’t explain my idea with my poor English.
To let some algorithm draw something is just one of tendencies that generative art has. However, if there’s no randomness in the algorithm, it just manufactures the same thing like a factory. I think being generative requires such an unpredictability rather than an algorithm. Much less programming.
Using watercolor could be generative. When I put it on a paper, it diffuses with (a sort of) randomness. Rorschach test also behaves unpredictably. But only randomness itself doesn’t turn into art. It’s just a chaos. To make it attractive as an art, we all have to understand the physics and law then control it.
Generative art might be similar to “bonsai”, I sometimes think so.

Oct 19, 2016

There are so many attractive events and encounters in here, but I always prefer to make something. What I’ve made is much more important than what kind of sociable person I am and it goes for anyone too.
Of course, it doesn’t mean I don’t like a community. Just like I’ve always done, It’s a fundamental behavior for me to contribute and commit to them. I’d like to say it’s more important for connection to be knowing one’s works and respect each other rather than whether we’ve met in somewhere before.