Friday, January 24, 2014

Semi-Automatic Ernst Haeckel & Procedural Modelling

The following demo is online but only while my server is up and until AT&T changes my IP number. Go to  

Type "H" for help information.

Boy is it slow!   I think that is the fault of the speed of the upload of my internet connection.  Not all that interactive on this server, I am afraid.  But if you are patient, it should refresh.  And a "reload" gets a whole new set of objects.

Generations of computer animators have been inspired by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), famed and sometimes controversial German scientist and artist, whose Ontogony Recapitulates Phylogony is one of the more famously incorrect, yet memorable, scientific principles of the natural sciences.

But for us digital dependent imagers, it is his meticulous drawings of the natural world that hold endless appeal. Obsessive, stylized, and completely delightful, there isn't a one of us who would not be thrilled to own a print of one of his works on his or her wall.

Whether Radiolarian or Anemone, his Kunstformen are an endless inspiration.

I wrote a modest program to generate small, probably water based organisms inspired by the master. Although the results are no where near where they would need to be be worthy of the art that inspired them.   I need to emphasize that I am trying to duplicate Haeckel, although it almost sounds that way, nor am I trying to recreate the fabulous range of creatures.  I am trying to procedurally define a class of objects that somewhat resemble what you might see in a microscope looking at a drop of pond water ... one of the classes of those creatures, not all of them by any means.

The idea is that you are looking at a semi-automatic catalog of obscure life forms, each of them different, yet related by an unknown (to the viewer) process or processes.

There is also some shader stuff going on to try and achieve a certain technical look.  There is much more to do there.

Each time the program's browser page is refreshed it comes up with a new set of objects. It was written in Webgl.  Of course that wont work on the following images, it only works when running it live.  If you are lucky my server will be up and the IP number at the top will be working.  (One day I will have my own server or a server I can use with a real, known IP number.)

The creatures and their look is defined by about 32 (or so) parameters.  8 of these parameters define the physical object geometry, 8 define an overall look, and the rest are miscellaneous parameters to define things like scale and overall reflectivity.  

Ernst Haeckel on Wilipedia

Die Radiolarien

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