Space Filler

August 21, 2008

This was my second Processing sketch I made prior to starting on the Music is Math video.

It’s a program that will fill the screen randomly with typeface, without any overlaps.  I’ve seen this sort of thing done elsewhere, and much better, but I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do something close and hopefully learn more about coding, image processing and notch up some experience points as a computer art programmer.

I started with the Times font, created variations of random distribution, different densities, orientation etc.  I then threw in the idea of images being mixed with type, opening up future possibilities for a graphic design visual brainstorming tool (see the pics with the rose below).

Here’s a gallery of the tests I created.


The most interesting development was when I used a dingbat style font, and even better, I think anyway, when I reduced the random selection to just 2 dingbat characters.  You can create your own dingbat space filling art piece by running this program here.

Be warned! My code is horribly amateurish and slow, you’ll have to be patient.  When you run the program a couple of dingbats will show up, you’ll then have to wait a few minutes before a couple more show up, filling in the available white space, then after a few more minutes things should speed up as the program fills in the remaining space as best it can.

It’s worth running the program a few times until 2 interesting symbols that work together crop up, I’ve ran this program a lot and still get pleasantly surprised at some of the harmonious abstract imagery created by purely randomly means.


4 Responses to “Space Filler”

  1. Glenn, your art work is simply amazing. This is the first computer generated art that creates the same visceral reaction I have to seeing things like a Monet or Rodin in person. While your programming might feel crude and slow now, I am sure that very quickly it will be as beautiful internally as your final output. I like to thing of programming as “sculpting with abstract thought.” I think what your doing here really has the potential open up this medium to a very wide audience.

    – Tom

  2. glennmarshall said

    Thanks very much Tom for your eloquent comments, I think you get what I’m trying to achieve and where I’m coming from.

    ‘Sculpting with abstract thought’ is right on mark. This was the sort of thought that blew me away when I discovered the potential of Processing, it was an epiphany for me as an experimental animator previously only working with the likes of After Effects and 3D software.

    At the end of the day though, it’s hard work that produces results, there’s no ‘magic’ involved, you’ve just got to have the stamina, determination and belief that a very high art is achievable through technology.

    I was looking at your Degrafa examples, I liked the ‘random art’ one!

  3. I hear you on the hard work part, no escaping that in art or programming. I have found whether I am sculpting in marble, casting in bronze, or creating a commercial software application it all follows the same process from the initial creative euphoria where the broad strokes are sketched, to the progressive iterations of ever finer refinement (and sometimes tedium.)

    Degrafa is much more focused on pragmatic commercial application of graphic and design, and less on “high-art.” But as a member of the team, my hope is to also provide those capabilities within the language we are creating.

    I would love to figure out a way to combine the amazing animation, sound and visual qualities of processing with a haptic interface like the iPhone to create a very immersive and interactive experience for the viewer/user. If you have any interest in collaboration please don’t hesitate to reach out at tom [@] degrafa [dot] com

    – Tom

  4. […] been playing around with the Space Filling code I’ve so enjoyed developing in the past.  I’ve spent time optimising the code, […]

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