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I just wanted to make sure everyone remembers to register for this great conference in DC this year.  From their website:

Press Release August 20th 2009 — Speaker Agenda Released and Registration Open!

We are pleased to announce that the OWASP DC chapter will host the OWASP AppSec 2009 conference in Washington, DC. The AppSec DC OWASP Conference will be a premier gathering of Information Security leaders. Executives from Fortune 500 firms along with technical thought leaders such as security architects and lead developers will be traveling to hear the cutting-edge ideas presented by Information Security’s top talent. OWASP events attract a worldwide audience interested in “what’s next”. The conference is expected to draw 600-700 technologists from Government, Financial Services, Media, Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, Technology, and many other verticals.

AppSec DC 2009 will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW Washington, DC 20001) on November 10th through 13th 2009.

Who Should Attend AppSec DC 2009:

  • Application Developers
  • Application Testers and Quality Assurance
  • Application Project Management and Staff
  • Chief Information Officers, Chief Information Security Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Deputies, Associates and Staff
  • Chief Financial Officers, Auditors, and Staff Responsible for IT Security Oversight and Compliance
  • Security Managers and Staff
  • Executives, Managers, and Staff Responsible for IT Security Governance
  • IT Professionals Interesting in Improving IT Security

(Second Update: As of 9/14/2009, I’m working for Idaho National Laboratory (INL) liaisoning to DHS in DC supporting their ICS-CERT effort. This is reflected in the online resume, but not yet the pdf.)

Just a pinging post since I’ve just (finally) updated my resume on this site and elsewhere to reflect what Im currently doing at TSA.  Apparently, IDS analysts in this area are in hot demand, but that’s not really what I do any more.  Unfortunately, what I -do- do isn’t as easy to tokenize/categorize as something like that. I do love it, though :) I like…making stuff work better than it did before and do new things.  People, in particular.

Here’s a link to the PDF:

http://jackwhitsitt.com/whitsittresume02092009b.pdf

And online:

http://sintixerr.wordpress.com/jack-whitsitts-technical-and-security-resume/

Update: You can now download a Webcam Audio Visualizer based on the one references in this tutorial – and some completely new ones – by clicking HERE

INTRO

So I’ve been making some new art lately that  I think pretty is cool. Back at Artomatic last year, I wrote code that generated a mosaic of one image out of another and make a 6’x6′ photo and wondered if the code was art, since the only thing it did was generate that one mosaic?

At that point, though, it was still static and the question was (to me) relatively easy to answer.

This time, I wanted something more dynamic and interactive. I wanted to further explore the question of whether  or not something that changes every time you see it and which depends on its environment is still “art”.  What I ended up doing is using Apple’s Quartz Composer – a visual media programming language – to create an  “audio visualizer” (sort of like you see in iTunes, Winamp, etc.).  What’s different about this piece, though is that combines live webcam input with live audio input into a pulsating, moving interpretation of the world around the piece.

In some ways, the work can be considered just a “tool”. But, on the other hand – and more importantly, I think – the fact that the ranges of color, proportion, size, placement, and dimension have all been pre-designed by the artist to work cohesively no matter what the environmental input moves it into the realm of “art”.

In this post, I hope use the piece in a way that will give you an example of what it would look like as part of a real live installation and to help explain the ins and outs of my process.

THE BASICS

An easy example of where this would do really well is at a music concert. The artist would point the camera at the band or the audience, and, as it plays, the piece would morph and transform the camera input in time to the music and a projector would display the resulting visuals onto a screen next to the band (or even onto the band itself).  This is just one suggestion, though.  Interesting static displays could also be recorded based on live input to be replayed later. It’s this latter idea that you’ll see represented below (though you might notice my macbook chugging a little bit on the visuals…slightly offbeat. Thats a slow hardware issue :) ):

In that clip, I pointed the webcam at myself and a variety of props (masks, dolls, cats, the laptop, etc) as music plays from the laptop speakers. There was a projector connected to the laptop displaying the resulting transformations onto a screen in real time. A video camera was set up to record the projection as it happened.  My setup isn’t much, but it can be confusing, so take a look below. My laptop with the piece on it, webcam connected to the laptop, projector projecting the piece as it happens, and video camera recording the projection:

Quartz Webcam Audio Visualizer Demo Recording Setup

TUTORIAL/EXPLANATION

As I said earlier, I used Quartz Composer – a free programming language from Apple upon which a lot of Mac OSX depends. Some non-technical artists might be a little bit leery of the term “programming language”, but Quartz is almost designed for artists. It’s drag and drop. Imagine if you could arrange lego’s to make your computer do stuff. Red lego’s did one type of thing, blue did another, green did a third. That’s basically Quartz. There are preset “patches” that do various things: Get input, transform media, output media somehow, etc. You pick your block and it appears on screen. If you want to put webcam input on a sphere, you would: Put a sphere block on the screen, put a video block on the screen, and drag a line from the video to the sphere. It’s as easy as that.  First, I’d suggest you take a look at this short introduction by Apple here:

http://developer.apple.com/graphicsimaging/quartz/quartzcomposer.html

Then take a look at the following clip and I’ll walk you through how it works at a hight level:

The code for this is fairly straightforward:

Simple Quartz Composer Webcam Audio VisualizerIn the box labeled “1” on the left, I’ve inserted a “patch” that collects data from a webcam and makes it available to the rest of the “Composition” (as Quartz Programs are called).  On the right side of that patch, you can see a circle labeled “Image”. That means that the patch will send whatever video it gets from the webcam to any other patch that can receive images. (Circles on the right side indicate things that the patch can SEND to others. Circles on the left indicate information that the patch can RECEIVE from others.)

The patch labeled “3”, next to the video patch, is designed to resize any images it receives. I have a slow macbook, but my webcam is high definition so I need to make the resolution of the webcam lower (the pictures smaller) so my laptop can better handle it. It receives the video input from the video patch, resizes it, and then makes the newly resized video available to any patch that needs it.  (You can set the resize values through other patches by connecting them to the “Resize Pixels Wide” and “Resize Pixels High” circles, but in this case they are static – 640×480. To set static values, just double-click the circle you want to set and type in the value you want it to have.)

In the patch labeled “4”, we do something similar, but this time I have it change the contrast of the video feed. I didn’t really need to, but I wanted to see how it looked. The Color Control patch then makes the newly contrasted image available to any other patch that needs it.

On the far right, the webcam output is finally displayed via patch “8”. Here I used a patch that draws a sphere on the screen and textured the sphere (covered the sphere with an image) with the webcam feed after it has been resized and contrast added.

So now we have a sphere with the webcam video on it, but it’s not doing anything “in time” with the music being played.

What I decided to do was to change the diameter of the sphere based on the music as well as the color tint of the sphere.

If you look at patch “2” on the left, you’ll notice 14 circles on the right side of it. These represent different (frequency) bands of the music coming in from the microphone. This would be the same type of thing if you were to be using an equalizer on your stereo (It’s actually split into 16 bands in Quartz, I just only use 14).  Each of those circles has a constantly changing value (from 0.0000 – 1.0000) based on the microphone input. Music with lots of bass, for example, would have a lot of high numbers in the first few bands and low numbers in the last few bands).  We use these bands to change the sphere diameter and color.

I chose to use a midrange frequency band to control the size of the sphere because that’s constantly changing, no matter whether the music is bass heavy or tinny.  You can see a line going from the 6th circle down in patch “2” drawn to the “Initial Value” circle of patch “5”.  Patch “5” is a math patch to perform simple arithmetic operations on values it gets and output the results. All I’m going here is making sure my sphere doesn’t get smaller than a certain size.  Since the audio splitter is sending me values from 0.000 – 1.000, I could conceivably have a diameter of 0. So, I use the math patch to add enough to that value that my sphere will always take up about a 25th of the screen, at its smallest.  Patch “5” then sends that value to the diameter input of the sphere patch (#8) we discussed earlier.

It’s these kinds of small decisions that, when compounded on one another, add up to visualizations with specific aesthetic feelings and contribute to the ultimate success or failure of the piece.

Another aspect of controlling the feel of your piece is color.  In patch 6, you see three values from the audio splitter go in, but only one come out.  The three values I used as the initial seeds for “Red”, “Green”, and “Blue” values.  Patch “6” takes those values and converts them into an RGB color value.  However, notice that patch “6” has three “Color” circles on the right, but only one gets used? That’s because I designed that patch to take in one set of Red, Green, and Blue values based on the music, but mix those values into three -different- colors. So as the music changes, those three colors all change in sync and at the same time and by roughly the same amount, but they’re still different colors. That lets me ad

d variety to the piece and allows me, as the artist, to kind of create a dynamic “palette” to chose from that will always be different, but still keep constant color relationships. This contributes to a cohesive and consistent feel to the piece.  A detailed explanation of how I do that is out of the scope of this post, but you can see the code below and take some guesses if you like:

colormanagerjpg-ready

And that’s pretty much that. We have a sphere that displays webcam input and which changes size and color according to the music playing nearby. But that’s really not all that interesting is it? What if we added a few more spheres? What if we used all three of the colors from patch “6”? What if those spheres all moved in time to DIFFERENT bands of the music?

The code might look something like this:

multiballs2jpgready

And the resulting output looks something like this:

Yeah I know the visuals are sortof silly and the song cheesy, but the music’s beat is easy to see and there just isnt that much in my apartment to put on webcam that I havent already.

Also, take a look at 55 seconds through about 1:05. The visualization goes a bit crazy. See the white box on top? You cant see in the video but that box lets me enter input parameters on the fly to affect how the visualization responds. This is the VJ aspect.  For these visualizations, Ive only enabled 2: How fast/big the visual components get and how fast/slow they get small.  In that 10 second segment, Im jacking them up a lot.

What about the original video? What does that code look like? See below.  It’s a litle bit more complicated, but essentially the same thing.  Instead of 16 spheres, I use a rotating 3D cube and a particle fountain (squares spurt out of a specific location like out of a fountain).  In addition to just color and size, the music playing nearby also affects location, rotation, minimum size, speed of the particles, and a number of other visual elements:

myvizjpg-ready

At some point (as soon as I figure out the Cocoa), Ill upload the visualizer here as a Mac OSX application for download.

SUMMARY

So, what do you think? Is this art? If not, what is it? Just something that looks cool? In my mind, artistic vision and aesthetics are a huge component of making “multimedia” “new technology” art, no matter how big a component the technology is.  Without some sort of understanding of what you are visually trying to communicate, it’s only by chance that you’ll end up with something that looks good.  But, even beyond that, I found that I had to think pretty far ahead and understand my medium in order to create something that would look consistent AND visually pleasing no matter what environment it was in and no matter what it was reacting to. It was like writing the rules to create an infinite number of abstract paintings that would always look like they were yours.

Also, figuring out what to put in the webcam view when and at what distance is an important part. When Im paying attention (as in the first video), it adds a whole new dimension. When I dont care and point it at anything (as in the demo videos), the whole thing becomes a bit more throwaway.

Paivi and I have a number of pictures up at DC9 from November 15 – November 22 as part of PixTour, which is part of Fotoweek. I wasn’t sure what or how many pictures to put up, but when I was talking to the Bill (the owner/manager?) I noticed that the 7 big mirrors provided the only really clear space, so I put 2-3 up per mirror. There are 3 “sets” of mine up – “Picture of a Picture” (suggested by Heather), “Doll Angst” (a set of suicidal blondes), and “Misc” (just a few that seemed to fit together) in the back.

These were my final selections:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sintixerr/sets/72157608876695189/

Paivi put up some of her BritishInk pics from Artomatic (hers was more last minute than mine since her original venue, Bar Pilar, fell through. Too bad!)

ABOUT:

PixTour: a project of FotoWeek DC 2008
Travel the city to check out PIX TOUR.

PixTour, a project of FotoWeek DC 2008, is showing the work of
area photographers at 40 bars, clubs, restaurants, theaters, and
shops around DC. Artist and Place meet and invite you.

PixTour brings art to the people who are out and about.
Take a walk, have a drink and a meal, and see the art of photography in Dupont, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, 14th Street, Anacostia and More. PixTour is an informal showing of photography on local walls and windows.

Curators: Molly Ruppert, Heather Goss, Beth Baldwin

PixTour was created as a project for Fotoweek DC 2008 by Molly Ruppert molly@warehousetheater.com and Warehouse.

VENUES:

DC9                                            1940 9th St NW
Nellie’s Sports Bar                  900 U St NW
Vegetate                                    1414 9th St NW
Velvet Lounge                           915 U St NW
Dos Gringos                            3116 Mt Pleasant St NW
Gala Theatre                            3333 14th St NW
Red Rocks Pizza                     1036 Park Rd NW
Room 11                                   3234 11th St NW
Sticky Fingers Bakery             1370 Park Rd NW
Wonderland                             1101 Kenyon St NW
Asylum                                       2471 18th St NW
Bedrock Billiards                     1841 Columbia Rd NW
Bossa Bistro Lounge              2463 18th St NW
Chief Ike’s Mambo Room      1725 Columbia Rd NW
Idle Times Book Store            2467 18th St NW
Tryst                                           2459 18th St NW
Caramel                                    1603 U St NW
Lee’s Flowers and Cards      1026 U St NW
Mocha Hut                                 1301 U St NW
Polly’s Cafe                               1342 U St NW
Solly’s u street tavern              1942 11th St NW
Vinoteca                                    1940 11th St NW
Cafe Tropé                                2100 P St NW
DC Café                                     2035 P St NW
Soho Tea and Coffee              2150 P St NW
Stars Bistro                               2120 P St NW
Tangysweet Yougurt  Bar      2029 P St NW
Garden District                         1801 14th St NW
Playbill Café                             1409 14th St NW
Timothy Paul Bedding            1529A 14th St NW
Universal Gear                        1529B  14th St NW
ARCH Training Center            1231 & 1227 Good Hope Rd SE
Baked and Wired                     1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Big Bear Café                           1700 First St NW
Mocha Ground                          4706 14th St NW
Warehouse                               1021 7th Street NW

ARTISTS

Giamoco Abrusci
Ken Ashton
James Calder
Daniel Cima
Jason Colston
Brett Davis
Thomas Drymon
Elsie Dwyer
Josh Gibson
Steve Goldenberg
Jason Gottlieb
Kyle Gustafson
Justin Harris
Linda Hesh
Justin Hoffmann
Seth  Kaplan
Angela Kayklers
Angela Kleis
Brian Knights
Marie Kwak
Bridget Sue Lambert
Pamela Leahigh
Jeffrey Lear
Martin Locraft
Dale Lowery
Cesar Lujan
Pat Padua
Linda Plaisted
Mark Planisek
Michael Platt
Drew Porterfield
Katy Ray
Bruce Robey
Lisa Rosenstein
Julie Seiwell
Kerri Sheehan
Myrna Smernoff
Matthew Smith
Parikha Solanki Mehta
Paivi Solonan
Michael Starghill
Linda Strating
Sanjay Suchak
Ira Tattelman
Raul Valda
John Thurman
Jack Whitsitt
Pete Van Vleet
Amber Wiley
Ken Wyner

Hey all!

I’m going to be showing some data visualizations at the My Space on 7th art show in Washington, DC starting Friday, July 11 at the Touchstone Gallery! Everyone should come out. I took a look at the space and there’s some interesting work hanging already. (And I have to thank Paige, here, who unintentionally helped me decide what to show…but more on that in a later post.)

Oh. And there will be wine tasting opening night. :)

There will be three old, but reworked images and one new one created just for this show.  Only one has ever been printed before and they all look pretty fantastic.

The new one consists of two superimposed graphs (a paraplot and a scatterplot) of illegitimate traffic going to/from “jackwhitsitt.com” (that would be, uh, most of it).

The three older ones are:

Destination Port Traffic Volume (global sample)

(Test Data from custom developed SEM correlation  modules)


(Pcap data from 10,000 spam emails)

Last week, I had the perfect storm of random happenings.  I was outside having coffee with Stacey by the Pentagon City Mall.  I got a twitter from Rebecca – some mumbling about a guy with a machete getting off the same bus as her. Quite surprised (and amused), I shared the message with Stacey.  Just as I do that, who walks up to us but Rebecca herself!  You have to keep in mind – Im not sure Ive ever run into her outside of Artomatic before in my life. The timing here is too weird. So weird, in fact, that the only thing I can think of to say to her is:

“Machete?!?!”

Turns out, some guy in a suit got off the local bus near where we were…manicured and everything….but with a machete on his back.  Hrm.  I cant say I havent felt the same way myself before, but most of us dont DO that :)

Anyway, Rebecca wanders off to knit (in Starbucks I think?? or some secret hole to Neverwhere) and Stace and I finish up. 

Heading into the metro, the next Yellow line to DC is 8 minutes away, but a blue line will be right there. I figure Ill catch that and jump across above ground from Farragut West to Farragut North and catch the red line home.

And…that brings us to the point of this post. 

Once I get up the stairs, Im surprised to hear….love shack….by the B-52’s. I check my ipod. No, no it’s not coming from there.  I look around and realize there is an actual live band  in Farragut Square doing love shack.  Not that that’s my favorite song mind you – by any means – but the fact that the typically dreary shuffle of end-of-workday commutes that normally happens here has been completely supplanted by random live 80’s music in the middle of the square. How freaking cool.

Apparently they were playing for the last day of OnTap’s “Sounds in the Square”.  I wish I had seen the others. I need to read my OnTap notices more carefully!

Luckily, I actually brought my video camera with me to work that day (???? I never do that ????). I grabbed it from my bag and immediately started filming.

As the song went on, I realized that these guys were pretty good (By pretty good I mean dont mean I’d fly to Hong Kong to see them, but they were FAR and away better than what you normally find laying around there in the afternoon)  AND had a great sense of humour.  All the guys were wearing moon pants, the guitarist had a Karate Kid bandana on, the basist had big white sunglasses with slits in them, the female singer was Madonna’d out, and the male singer had Rick-Springfield sunglasses. 

I ended up filming six songs in High Definition and I think they all came out really well – especially as it was spur of the moment and I couldnt move around much.  I’ve included two of my favorites in this post – Walk Like an Egyptian (top) and Jessie’s Girl (bottom). I particularly like the footage of Walk Like an Egyptian…the singer walked out and was dancing with a couple of kids egyptian-style. It was adorable.

Anyway, the band’s name was “The Reflex”.  They’re based in DC and if you want a bit of entertaining eighties in your life, check them out!

http://reflexlive.com/

 

 

About Me

Jack Whitsitt

Jack Whitsitt

National Cyber Security. Risk. Multi-Dimensional Rainbows. Maker of conceptual lenses. Artist. Facilitator. Educator. Past/Future Vagabond. Drinks Unicorn Tears.

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