“What I Make” Conference presentation

From Miranda’s Hearth, a recap of my presentation at the What I Make conference in April 2016!


“I describe my process as growing the drawing,” Emily says. Similarly to organisms and trees, her drawings grow through emergence, not top down but bottom up. Cities also grow this way, organically, over time, and under a specific set of rules, and Emily’s maps reflect this. “I decide on some simple rules and I work with those rules. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, but I know the rules.”


Read more background on my process at the link: http://mirandashearth.com/whatimake-imaginary-maps/
The full talk is also online here: https://youtu.be/x6yIast7AFo


Some of the animations I showed in my presentation, illustrating the steps of my process:


Style transfer maps

I had a great time at the recent Machine Learning for Artists hack day at Bocoup. I didn’t actually accomplish much myself—I generally resorted to drawing in my sketchbook—but I learned a lot from the projects presented, and was fascinated to see my drawings applied as style transfer, a project K. Adam White and Kawandeep Virdee among others took on during the event. New drawings of mine were created without my having to do anything! It was magical.
We ended up with this…
gift01-coaster01 map223 blocks of blocks web
by combining these two

Style transfer is a machine learning process whereby a content image gets transformed using the style of a source image. If you’ve seen the Google Deep Dream project, with its hallucinatory puppyslugs in pop colors, it’s related to that.
 Google Maps transformed by my abstract map art

More recently, the Prisma app has been super popular for Instagram posts and uses a similar technology—it gives you a range of artworks that you can use to transform the style of your photos. When I gave it an image of my map art, it even added extra roads to it:
wood-panel crop wood-panel filter
Using this local style transfer process is like being able to transform a photo Prisma-style into ANY type of artwork. So of course I got mappified :)
I’m excited to see what else can be done with this process, and especially if it’ll affect my drawing in any way. I’m already thinking about doing a fractal drawing process where I make progressively bigger drawings with the aid of these machine-hallucinated map details. Stay tuned!

Processing sketches

One of my many goals this year has been to learn more about scripting and procedurally generating graphics, for which I’ve been using the language Processing. I don’t have a lot of prior experience with code, though, and that makes things a bit difficult!

It’s a totally different way of thinking. Processes that seem simple enough to me—like drawing a series of city blocks that are different shapes but all have the same width streets between them, for instance—are surprisingly difficult to put into code. And at the same time, graphics that would be difficult or just tiresome for me to execute physically, like filling the screen with parallel lines or drawing the same shape over and over in different places, are particularly simple.
Much of the learning curve has just been differentiating between the different parts of code and learning their names so I can understand instruction, even before I learn the actual functions.

That all said, I’ve been having a pretty good time coming up with little visual programs. Below are some short animations that I’ve made so far. I’m particularly proud of the fact that I came up with and wrote all the code for each one myself. It’s possible to copy others’ code, but I find that that often causes more problems than it solves—and it’s more satisfying to know I coded something from scratch.