Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County


The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County

processing java application, january 2008 to september 2008

The Fabled Ghettos of Rockland County(TFGORC) series is a variation of the old Urban Terrain Generating Project that was started on January 2008.


The premise started out simple enough. Start out with a random number of lines and keep extending them. Should any of the lines hit the edges of the screen or intersect each other, randomly generate another line attached to a previous one at a right angle.

The image generated were interestingly very city-like. Iterations of the program along with variable changes such as the number of lines starting out, the angle of the lines starting out, or even the maximum number of lines generates various types of urban aerial point-of-view:

iteration: start with 1 line and max with 500 lines

iteration: start with 10 lines and end with 5000

Eventually, I was inspired by Spiderman and decided to arrange the beginning lines in a circle. The hope was to generate web-like structures:



Another variation is to arrange two circular points of origins for the beginning lines.



The images generated by this simple algorithm are all very interesting yet the rules of the generation are very simple. Eventually, after finding some time, I decided to put some effort in coloring the images. The color swatches for the following images are taken from Flickr images of Rockland County.

Coloring of the images was done in 3 phases. The first phase draws the lines. The second phase colors the lines. The third phase redraws the finished lines in the first phase. The second phase tends to color over the lines so they had to be redrawn. Since the code was geared towards saving memory and not cpu cycles, the finish product took a really long time. The images below averaged somewhere between 8 to 16 hours. This is due to each line being checked in each iteration. It's terribly inefficient but I might be too lazy to fix it.



I added a textured background tile to create the organic look of these iterations. Below are the better images generated by the algorithm so far. Most of these images and future images generated with algorithm will be found at its Flickr site:






The piece is partially inspired by an exposure to some of my friends in Rockland County, NY. When I first met them, I thought they were from this legendary place called Rockland County where the life was just as ghetto and hardcore as Compton, Harlem, or East LA. One could make the comparison that these colleagues of mine could have passed for the Bloods or Crips.

It wasn't until I decided to drive down to their "hood" and pick one of them up right before we went to college. I was expecting half-burned crack houses, drug dealers on a corner, and the threat of carjackers exist at every stoplight. Five miles into the county I saw neither of these. All I saw were huge suburban houses surrounded by lush gardens and flanked by BMW and Mercedes cars.

I really didn't get it. How did these good old suburban boys mistake themselves as gangbangers? I still blame their fascination with "Boyz N' Da Hood"( a good movie btw) and "Menace II Society". Personally, I think they probably like "Don't be a Menace To Society While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood."



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