Noodling with the Taijitu

Averages, Data Representation

On a lark I did some animation silliness today. The typical explanation for the taijitu, or the yin-yang symbol ( ☯ ), mentions how dark and light are intertwined, one leads to the other in a symbiotic wax-and-wane cycle, and one contains the seed of the other inside. Well, said I, I wonder what this wax-and-wane cycle would look like if the taijitu was rotating and you took the average grayscale value of the portion of the symbol passing at the zenith part. Who wouldn’t wonder that?

To make that more obvious, I’ve prepared this anigif, which contains three parts: a rotating taijitu, a cropping of the topmost sliver of the symbol from the centerpoint up (indicated by the red box in the first part), and the average grayscale value of that sliver:

Taijitu Joint000

So, basically, as the Wheel of Earth and Heaven rolls ponderously around, there are alternating times of lightness, darkness and shades in-between. I will leave you with a stand-alone gif of this interplay for your own amusement (caution: may not be synced with the above animation):

Taijitu Fill000

Some Messing Around with Plate Tectonics

Averages, Graphic Geography

Just a couple of images to show what I’ve been playing around with recently. It has to do with the shapes of the major tectonic plates and their overall vectors. Interesting thing: the amount of distance that each plate moves in a year can be easily expressed, in real-life scale, in a print one can hold in one’s hand. More on that later.

One’s a colorized overlay, one’s a simple outline overlay.



Average Security Council 2015

Averages, Data Representation

Working again with the concept of averaging things to see what results, I’ve pulled up a project from years past and figured out a way to make a physical manifestation. In this case, I’m averaging flags, specifically, the flags of the nations that make up the United Nations Security Council for 2015. Here’s the base image that I prepared for inkjet output on canvas:


Each rectangle represents the average color of the flag of that nation. There are quite a few maroony-pink flags here, because red-white-and-blue is a common selection for flag colors.

Earth Flag

Averages, Graphic Geography

There was a Photoshop contest over at today to make up an “official” flag for the whole planet. Most of the entries were snarky, as befits the location, but I used my average continental colors to come up with something a little more interesting:


The stripes represent each continent in proportion, starting with Eurasia on the hoist and then North America. A thin strip of blue represents the surface freshwater, then come stripes for Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica. (The stripes are in order from north to south.) The final navy field represents the oceans, in proportion.

So it was something fun and interesting to make, and the Farkers loved it.

Average Continent Colors

Averages, Graphic Geography, Needlework

I’d mentioned it in my needlepoint gallery, specifically on the floss color I used for Australasia and North America, but I realized I’d never posted it before. So, to rectify that situation, here are my averaged colors for the continents:


This was created using a NASA true-color cloudless satellite montage of the world, represented in a Dymaxion projection by R. Buckminster Fuller, so the relative scales and sizes of the continents would be more-or-less comparable:


A note on the continental divisions I used: I consider Europe and Asia to be pretty much one continent, as there is no major division or chokepoint between them. For tradition’s sake, I did determine a separate average color for both Asia and Europe (divided by the Ural Mountains), but when I do the needlepoint piece it will use the Eurasian color and depict both traditional landmasses.

Africa is nicely separated from Asia by Sinai, and the Isthmus of Darien does a pretty good job of separating North and South America, so I’m happy to include these continents as separate and not part of “The Americas” or “Eurafricasia”.

Average Glitch Blocks

Averages, Data Representation

For funsies, I averaged the glitch blocks together to see if any patterns might emerge that way. Nothing too striking, but there are some subtleties. Also, green seems to be the glitch color of choice.

Average Dao De Ching

Averages, Linguistic Deconstruction

So, the reason I posted the digital Dao De Ching is because I had a small epiphany of how to work the Chinese encoding in a different way, which lead me back to the original, older encoding concept, and I figured I’d go ahead and post it just to be complete. The new concept is basically something akin to my Average Typefaces, except this is the average of all the characters in a given chapter of the Dao De Ching. Running every single meaningful character together (I removed the period and comma characters as they were kinda boring), yields this particular image:

An alternative method that involves using transparency in Illustrator to organize the characters yields this similar but different average:

I used two different Chinese fonts for each of these averages, so the shapes are different. It is obvious that the Dao that can be averaged is not the eternal Dao!


People Like Colorfield Videos with No Sound… Who Knew?

Averages, Video

I was browsing my Vimeo stats and I’m quite surprised that every one of my top ten loaded videos is not a wind turbine, is not an icosacomposite, is not the MBTA… They are all Average Cinema pieces.

Which means that a decent number of people are loading up silent colorfield videos and are, for a good portion of the time, letting them run in their entirety. I never expected anyone but myself to do something like that. Who knew? Anyway, thanks for watching, everyone!

New Patterns: Highway Cloverleaves

Averages, Infrastructure

This was something that had been in the back of my mind for a while, just a lark, just something to play with. I thought I’d cruise through Google Earth and take screenshots of various cloverleaves along the interstates in the area. Funny thing: there aren’t as many traditional 4-lobed cloverleaf interchanges as you’d expect, a lot of them are more in an H-pattern of on/off ramps with controlled intersections. I suppose that’s a little cheaper than graded, circular ramps allowing nonstop interchange. At any rate, I started on I-95 around Boston and got twenty cloverleaves as a start, including this lovely one from right at the Delaware border in Maryland:

Look at that! Almost as perfect a circle as you’re gonna get with aggregate and asphalt on actual terrain. Trés magnifique!

At any rate, I got twenty screenshots and then tweaked them to 1000 px by 1000 px, with the center of the cloverleaf as close to the center of the square as possible. I figured it would be pretty cool, but I was surprised by how cool:

That’s pretty sexy. Then I normalized the levels:

Oh, yeah. That’s nice. So—I hope you appreciate these as much as I do. I’ll probably be doing more in the near future.