Walk down Missoula’s Hip Strip one day, and you might see a digitized art version of yourself rendered on a big-screen tv in the window of Wave & Circuit, a creative space across from Hellgate High School.
On April 6, the space will be open for a First Friday show. Attendees will be able to adjust the inputs and see themselves displayed as colorful triangles, web-like mesh, or a combination of other settings.
The program uses an xBox Kinect to capture an image and C++ code to render different variations of that image in real time. The result is a mesmerizing interactive visual and a burning curiosity about the capabilities of creative coding.
The interactive art piece is a collaboration between Wave & Circuit and the spring 2018 Montana Code School cohort with their instructor Austin Slominski.
Slominski helped coordinate the project between Wave & Circuit and Code School students Keesha Cain, Nathan Tully, Kerry Zahn, Matthew Sutton, Cassidy Tucker, and Kelsey Iverson. The space was interested in a new public art display, and the students were looking for creative ways to practice their growing coding skills. It was a perfect match.
The team used a C++ toolkit for the framework and pulled code from the open source community to build some of the settings for the art piece.
Iverson helped get the piece installed in March. She said the collaborative process extended beyond the Montana Code School and Wave & Circuit to the broader coding community.
“There’s actually a really amazing open source community around open framework that allows us to easily make this art piece,” Iverson said. “There’s a lot of open source code that’s already written to connect with the xBox Kinect to install these extra art pieces within to play with the xBox Kinect.”
Jay Bruns, co-founder of Wave & Circuit, said the piece has been well-received at other shows in the space.
“It’s beautiful, because kids will interact with it, and adults will interact with it, and it’s just fun,” Bruns said.
He added that working with Montana Code School is exactly the kind of collaboration that he was hoping for when he co-founded the space with Joe Glassy. Interdisciplinary art can foster creative new pursuits, Bruns said, and coding is no different.
“A coder’s job is really to make things transparent and just work,” Bruns said. “But the clever solutions that coders come up with in order to, you know, have brevity in their code, to have things work with other code bases, to utilize API’s– there’s a total art to that.”
While many think coding and tech work are more suited for math-oriented folk, Bruns said Wave & Circuit can help usurp those assumptions through interdisciplinary projects like the interactive art piece.
“If this can change someone’s perspective of what you could do with coding, then mission accomplished,” Bruns said.
The First Friday show on April 5 will feature the interactive art piece in addition to pieces from the Cool Art Club and local electronic music. Wave & Circuit also hosts casual creative tech meetups on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 pm. The space is located at 829 S. Higgins Ave.
By Katy Spence