Algodone Rings — Code Kitchen 2016 Show

This algorithm is inspired by the Algodones dune field in Southern California. It’s always the most interesting part of my drive home to Arizona. Though the underlying structure is always the same, the dunes are constantly changing in subtle and unique ways due to the randomness in the environment. For this piece, multiple rings are created with the same starting conditions. Random forces and time work together to evolve each ring into a unique structure. Although they may start the same, no two rings will ever end up alike.

Initial starting conditions always end in different results


Glamis Dunes on the border of Arizona, California, and Mexico

A couple of times a year I make the road trip from southern California to Phoenix. The most interesting part of the route is a small portion known as the Imperial Sands Recreation Area, otherwise known as Glamis. Most of the trip is empty desert, but this small section feels like a martian landscape. I still remember a time driving to California at dusk during an exceptionally windy day. The sand was whipping across the road like blowing snow. I had to reduce my speed to avoid sections of the road covered over by blown sand.

The area is also interesting due to its location. The Algodones exist on the border of Arizona, California, and Mexico. In some parts of the drive you can actually see the wall separating our country from our souther neighbors. Passing from liberal to conservative US states while looking towards the border in contest between the two ideologies is itself an interesting experience. Add a unique and otherworldly landscape and you can’t help but be challenged in your thinking for a brief moment.

After many trips across this sandy area I’ve realized it’s different every time I visit but in such a small way that I have to pay extreme attention to notice. I’ve tried to capture this idea with my piece. Each generation evolves so slowly that it’s hard to perceive any changes without complete attention. The combination of small random changes and time allow for each finished piece to be unique.

A series of rings blown like sand grains over time make this and all other pieces unique

Technical Influence

I’ve been obsessed with the work of Inconvergent and have been dying to try and understand his process and work in more detail. This turned out to be the most technically challenging generative art I’ve done by far and maybe even the hardest code challenge I’ve tackled. I’m not proud of the code but I was blown away by the results once they started appearing on screen. That moment when your thoughts finally assemble themselves in pixels is always an exciting time. I hope to take these ideas and this code farther in the future.

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