Trump Transition: a Presidential Morph

The literal meaning of “a change of pace” is the alteration of speed to give variation to an activity. Here, for a change of pace, is a rhythmic morphing of all past U.S. presidents, from George Washington through Barack Obama.

As I’ve noted in the YouTube description of this video, my original intent was to simply create a sequential morph of all of the presidents, including Donald Trump. A quick YouTube search of “presidential morphs” abruptly disabused me of that idea, however, as this was clearly not a very original idea at all. However, I desperately wanted to play around with my morphing software, so I thought about it a bit and came up with the idea of using President Trump’s image as a transition between each of the other presidents. In other words, morph Trump with every past president. In other words, do 88 unique morphs rather than 44. In other words, spend over a hundred hours working on this silly two-minute video. Yes, indeed.

Here’s some interesting stuff I learned and/or observed while creating this video:

  • There have been four united republics of America:
    • United Colonies Continental Congress
    • United States Continental Congress
    • United States in Congress Assembled
    • Constitution of 1787

    Each republic had their own “presidents.” Peyton Randolph was the first president under the United Colonies Continental Congress, and George Washington was the first under the Constitution of 1787. Some people say that this made Peyton the first president, while others note that his was a different job description and not “president” as we know it today.

  • John Quincy Adams was the first president to sport something that resembled a modern collar in his presidential portrait. From Adams through Buchanan, each president enjoyed the winged, upwardly pointed Poke or Gladstone style of collars, until Lincoln came along in 1865 fashionably wearing a turned-down variety. You can thank Brooks Brothers, Lacoste, and polo for this new style. After Lincoln and on through Taft there was a mix of up and down collar styles. From Woodrow Wilson onward, all collars have been turned down.

  • In addition to making history with his bold collar choice, Lincoln was also the first of five presidents to sport a full beard in his presidential portrait. He was followed in bushy glory by Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and Harrison. William Howard Taft was the very last president to display any facial hair at all.

  • Both Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt liked pinching their noses with pince nez glasses. Historically speaking, I think Morpheus rocked the style best. Apparently, you can purchase Roosevelt’s actual glasses here:

Finally, please note, no political statement was intended by this video, just a bit of weird, silly fun. Please don’t take it for anything more or less than that. As Robert Kennedy eloquently noted: “Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”


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Animated 3D Fractal: The Reveal

Long ago, on a quiet day In 1920, Swiss-born painter, printmaker, and draughtsman Paul Klee fired up his new-fangled self-filling fountain pen and famously tweeted

“Kunst gibt nicht das Sichtbare wieder, sondern macht sichtbar” (“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”)

Later, in 1938, British philosopher R.G. Collingwood noted in his blog that

“The making of a work of art…is a strange and risky business in which the maker never knows quite what he is making until he makes it.”

These two quotes beautifully summarize the blindly fluid journey one experiences when creating fractal images and animations.

Hmmmmm. “… fractal …” (frāk’təl) …

Yes, I know, it’s not a very warm or inviting word, is it? Never has been, and never will be. More often than not, the word can’t even be uttered in casual conversation without necessitating some brief and awkwardly over-simplified discourse on self-similar shapes, repeating patterns, infinite surfaces, and (whoa, dude) Really-Cool-Psychedelic-Colors.

I also feel that there’s a harsh mental darkness that sticks to the very word itself. The abrupt voiceless velar plosive in the initial “frac” elicits Very-Bad-Feelings of something vaguely hard, brittle, and unlikeable, while that surreptitious suffix “tal” throws everything into the terrifying land of Very-Difficult-Words-To-Deal-With (i.e., dialectal, distal, transcendental, digital, rectal, marital [insert smiley face here], etc.)

When voiced aloud, the word confuses, alienates, and actively shoves the listener outside of their comfort zone, making it a challenge, rather than an invitation, to appreciate the hidden beauty described by the word itself. I imagine that fractals as an art-form might be significantly more popular today if they had been formally named something softer and cuter:

“Hey, wanna see the latest bunnybelly I rendered?”
“Oh, its sooooooo pretty! I love the colors! Are you going to animate it?”

But, while we may wish that other choices had been made, “fractals” is the word that we’re stuck with to label this uniquely modern art-form.

Whereas traditional art rose from organic inspirations that visualized you, me, our animal friends and the world we live in, fractal art did not. By its nature, fractal art is inorganic, transcribing the mathematical metadata that hides within the aether of our reality into a humanly visible experience one pixel at a time.

While a painter, a sculptor, a designer, or even a craftsman might have a clear vision of that which they hope to create, a fractal artist is forever exploring, capturing, and coloring new, undiscovered objects and terrains. For me, this is a critical distinction, as it explains the “why” of what I do. The creative satisfaction of fractal artistry lies not in the construction of the vision, but rather in the discovery of the Never-Seen, Never-Known, yet Was-Always-There. We fractal artists do not “reproduce the visible;” rather, we make it visible. We are day-tripping, button-pushing risk-takers who ride the rapid CPU, navigating down alternating formulas until discovering the strangest, coolest, freakiest manifestation of shapes and colors yet to be viewed by human eyes. We’re never completely certain of where we’re going, but we certainly think we know it when we see it.

Wanna see my latest bunnybelly?

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Another Generic 3D Fractal Animation

OK folks, here’s another loud, noisy 3d-fractal animation for your fugacious entertainment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything amazingly cool and relevant to call this one, so thus the vagueness of the title. Anyhow, I hope that you’ll derive some visceral pleasure from viewing it and that you’ll now be able to find answers to all of your private, unspoken questions.

As usual, a significant portion of the sound effects were created using stuff from my kitchen. Here’s a peek at part of the process:



Prior to patching them into the video, the various audio samples are brought into Audacity and tweaked (sometimes excessively) with noise reduction, reverb, echoes, time-stretching, reversal and other filters that distort the sounds in weird and wonderful ways. There are some portions of the video where upwards of twelve different samples are layered over each other to create my interpretation of what real fractal motion sounds like (or at least something close enough). As you can imagine, it’s often quite difficult to envisage exactly what a certain fractal movement should sound like (let alone create that sound), but that’s where most of the fun in the process comes from. And of course, at the end of the day, who’s going say it’s wrong?

Anyhow, as noted previously, I hope you enjoy the video. Let me know what you think.

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You Are Here

As most of you are probably already aware, YouTube now actively supports immersive 360 degree video, enabling you to experience a video’s depth, distance and intensity like never before. At this time, only the Chrome browser allows you to enjoy the 360 degree experience on your desktop.

Well, here is my first contribution to this new virtual reality experience!

I’m excited to share this with you. Without going into any detail, suffice it to say that it took an incredible amount of time and resources to create this brief bit of 4K Ultra HD media. I hope you enjoy it. If possible, please try viewing it with Google Cardboard or a similar VR app. It’s a unique experience to actually “be in” a three dimensional fractal.

If you’re interested, a version without the injected VR meta-data can also be viewed here:

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Valleys of the Balls

The 1967 classic drama film “Valley of the Dolls” was all about the Dolophine (“Dolls”), which is a brand name for the opioid Methadone. Side effects of the drug include dizziness, sleepiness, vomiting, and sweating. While this video might give you some of those problems, trust me – it has nothing to do with drugs. Just good old-fashioned, clean, wholesome, self-similar three-dimensional fractal fun here folks.

As you might have noticed in the YouTube description, it literally took me a year to get around to completing this video. I’ve learned that sometimes you’ve gotta let the images age a bit to get the best flavor out of them.


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