Ultimately we wanted users to do more than simply select imagery from a menu; ordinary mouse movements needed to signify down to the level of the individual line, providing intimate gestural connections with the source material.
- Erik Loyer, Designer's Statement
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XML feed that drives Critical Sections
Users are provided with virtual pages on which they may casually deploy Greg J. Smith's intriguing hybrids of cinema and architecture—collages of filmic and domestic space which can be moved, resized, recomposed and arranged in depth. The scale of the user's affect within the piece was an early design concern, especially the level of detail at which users would be able to interact with the drawings. Ultimately we wanted users to do more than simply select imagery from a menu; ordinary mouse movements needed to signify down to the level of the individual line, providing intimate gestural connections with the source material.
In the substitutional logic of the piece, cursor movements become lines, which become shapes, which become film imagery surrounded by architectural renderings. These renderings offer themselves as contexts alternate to the proscenium, and sometimes alternate to objects within the film frame itself, thus continuing the pattern of substitutions, but it is here that the strategy shifts. The drawings and imagery blend semantically, manually, edges and shapes aligned and dis-aligned to specific purpose, in conversation with each other. The fluid layer of commentary hovering above each page plays counterpoint, enacting an algorithmic, force-directed intimation of another kind of semantic mixture, one which defines thematic resonance as a matter of distance, measured in pixels.
From substitution to blending; from bivalence to multivalence, from aliased to anti-aliased. These are all movements implicit in this technological moment, and while Critical Sections' recombinations are more hand-crafted and metaphorical than automated and data-driven, they are intended to evoke a world soon to arrive in which the semantics of Smith's imagery and text can be blended as easily and algorithmically as their visual apparitions.
A footnote: source code, raw XML data and an interactive guide for Critical Sections are all available within the piece. We'd love to hear your feedback on these features.