Hierarchical Squares

This blog post represents the second instalment of what will hopefully be a long series of blog posts dedicated to digital art I have been making. The first instalment, Generating Glitches, can be found here.

Before continuing, it should be noted that this post contains nudity and is therefore NSFW (Not Safe For Work).

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In the previous post, I presented images that were distorted, both to highlight an alternative, informative representation of the data contained within an image, but also images that were distorted purely for aesthetic reasons. The images in this post are here as a continuation of the latter motivation. All of the images are based on photos I have taken, except for image 32 in the gallery, which is based on a photo taken by Bec Todd.

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The images are generated using a piece of software I wrote in Processing. The software works by drawing an image as a stack of layers. Each layer in the stack consists of squares that are half the (linear) size of the squares in the layer below. So, the squares in the top layer are very small and the squares in the bottom layer are large.

When drawing a layer, the software has a tendency to only draw squares if the underlying image is bright. This tendency increases as we go up in layers. So, in layers near the bottom almost all squares are drawn and in layers near the top only those squares in very bright parts of an image are drawn.

This tendency is controlled by a parameter, allowing me to create images with more or less distortion.

I have applied this technique to a series of landscape photos take in Lake Coleridge, NZ.

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I have also applied the technique to a number of photos I took of a model. The placement of the model on a dark background causes the software to create a distorted, distinctly digital looking halo around a relatively undistorted model.

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The highlights of the figures, where the eye is naturally drawn first seem to create a short-lived sense of normalcy, before the viewer notices the limbs and edges of the model, which seem to blend into the digital background.

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The ability to tune the level of distortion is well illustrated in the following gifs.

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As the following photos show, the technique also produces interesting results when applied to other, less controlled photographs.

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See the full album of images here.

One Response to “Hierarchical Squares”

  1. I love the swan reflection…

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