Somewhere amidst the amazing projects, flashing lights, sweet sound and occasional free food, there is a void at ITP. That void is a refrigerator. Some consider a fridge a cooling appliance, while others such as yours truly consider a fridge a canvas for artistic creations, unpaid bills, and other bits and pieces.
With this in mind, I created Poetic Waxing (please click for link to Processing sketch and source code!) in Processing as my final project for ICM. Rather than pouring energy into creating bills in Processing, I decided to focus on artistic creation using words, similar to Magnetic Poetry.
The first step was figuring out how to drag and drop a rectangle, hereafter referred to as a magnet, in Processing (sad, I know - but now I know how to do it!). Thanks to Digital Noah for helping me figure out how to use the mouseDrag() function!
I put a word, "KAT," on the magnet, and played around with my Processing sketch to make the width of the magnet correspond to the length of each word. Then, I created an array of rectangles, which we'll call magnets, and amended the mouseDrag function in accordance with the array so that I could move the magnets independently.
My next challenge was to figure out what the words of Poetic Waxing should be. Realistically, I'd be playing with Poetic Waxing more than anyone else, and I figured that to maximize the creativity and uniqueness of the compositions I created, it would be best to solicit words from sources beyond my noggin. I toyed with the idea of parsing words from XML sources and text files such as James Joyce's Ulysses - but figured that the most interesting language was much nearer than the info stored on remote servers. A quick email to the ITP email list yielded hundreds of awesome words from my fellow students, which I entered into a text file and put in the data folder for the Processing sketch.
One wee issue I encountered: when one magnet overlapped another, they stuck together unless the user pulled them apart from the non-overlapping sections. After a couple of minutes trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening, I realized that this was one of those fortunate mistakes. Magnets stick to magnets in the real world, so the need to manually pull the magnets apart using the mouse adds to the whole user experience. A valuable lesson learned - just because a computer may be able to do all of the work for us, doesn't necessarily mean that it should always do so.
Lastly, I made Poetic Waxing pretty! I positioned a semi-opaque rectangle beneath each magnet with a slight offset to create drop shadows. I used this image of a brushed steel texture from Dim Sum! on Flickr for the kind of background to which I knew my magnets would enjoy affixing themselves.
The user interface is pretty straightforward: drag and drop words using the mouse. When you become bored or dislikes the random selection of words on the screen, press the space bar to reset.
The Processing sketch and source code can be found here. Enjoy!