March 09, 2006
Islands Of Consciousness

Islands Of Consciousness is the latest addition to my portfolio of experiments, sketches and artistic works Incubator. It emerged from a collaboration with the Ukrainian musician and composer Oleg Marakov alias Corpuscul. When he showed me Islands his musical piece for 4 simultaneous MP3 players in shuffle mode I immediately saw the great potential to combine it with my Flickeur project.

Islands Of Consciousness is an infinite movie with a randomly arranged soundtrack created in realtime with random images from Flickr. It is different to Flickeur in many aspects: I have extended the visual grammar and completely changed the algorithm which chooses the images from Flickr - now it is truly an associative stream, as each image is chosen based on the previous one's tags.

The most important feature though is the soundtrack: not only is it randomly arranged using ca. 40 MB of sound samples, what's more important is that it directly influences and controls the flow of the movie and the graphical effects that are applied to the images.

Due to those differences the narrative that evolves out of this arrangement is not so often the "this is the janitor that was the last person who saw the two girls before they met the evil clown in the woods" type of story that Flickeur very often creates, but rather a real stream of consciousness with many surprising or disturbing elements: Especially when a sound seems to fit perfectly to the content of an image or when the composition of layered and masked images looks just beautiful or strong. I recommend a minimum viewing time of 5 minutes in order to see the variety of the piece and don't worry if the screen stays black in the first minute - it is not broken but caused by the random creation process.

Note: due to the law of probability the chances that you will encounter cats, dogs, marriages or babies in almost every movie are pretty good. Maybe a little bit too many cats for my taste.

Posted at March 09, 2006 01:37 PM | Further reading

It seems the flash check isnt doing good enough :( I have player 8.5 and it seems not to be working. Tells me:

You will need at least Adobe Flash 8 to view Islands Of Consciousness.

Greetz EE

Posted by: Erik Westra on March 9, 2006 03:00 PM

Oops, never mind that, i made a mistake (all the different comps...) sorry!

Greetz EE

Posted by: Erik Westra on March 9, 2006 03:01 PM

Excellent work. I'm fascinated by how different the feeling is every time you play it. The images continous association in images I think helps to really create a mood.

The sound composition is excellent as well.

Posted by: Rick on March 9, 2006 04:45 PM

Very intriguing work. I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time observing that site...

Great work.

Posted by: P.J. Onori on March 9, 2006 08:32 PM

I'm canceling my netflix account.This has far more to offer :)

Posted by: lunetta on March 10, 2006 03:26 AM

very nice, the ambient sound is amazing.

Posted by: dan on March 10, 2006 03:27 AM

Congrats Mario, it's really fabulous and also quite trippy! Just few ideas and questions:

It'd be nice to let people choose a start tag for their island hopping and possibly have an interactive control mechanism to adjust the breadth of association (in tag space), so the user can choose to remain on a certain "island"/context/combination of tags (are you using aggregates at all?) or make a decision to allow the system to associate less related tags in order to progress the "storyline". Another interesting idea could be to only make use of Flickr's recently uploaded images to come closer to the illusion of a global current stream of consciousness...

Also, hope you don't mind me asking how you achieved having the audio impacting on visuals semantically? My guess is that your samples are tagged too and chosen in relation to the current visual context (even with feedback or the way round? i.e. audio tags drive flickr tags? ;)

Did you also ever consider using a semantic network (e.g. on the server side to evolve a chosen context in a more elaborate way, rather than doing a set merge and figure out tag relations?

Summasummarum, IMHO one of the best uses of the flickr API so far. Gut gemacht! :)

Posted by: toxi on March 10, 2006 11:45 AM

Rick , Dan - Thank You! :)

Posted by: corpuscul on March 10, 2006 10:47 PM
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