Kaleidoscopes

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In the spring of 2001, I lectured on "Random Numbers and Computer Art" at UCSD. For the lecture, I programmed a Kaleidoscope simulation to illustrate a metaphor about the relationship of disorder and order in computer art. In the process I became fascinated with Kaleidoscopes, and the recent resurgence in Kaleidoscope artistry. I read a few books on the subject (the best ones are by Cozy Baker), and learned about the Brewster Society, which she started.

I visited an amazing collection of scopes in Fullerton at the Eileen Kremen Gallery (which sadly, is no longer there), purchased a few, and began learning a little bit about stained glass, so I could construct my own scopes.

I also started programming kaleidoscope simulations in various languages, including Java, C++ and Actionscript, Processing and Javascript.

A few of my early efforts I put out as screensavers, on my website Krazydad.com, long before I got into publishing puzzles.

I am probably the first person to create a computer simulation of a specific real-world kaleidoscope. My Charles Bush Kaleidoscope employed photos of the glassworks of a real 19th century kaleidoscope.

I created a very elaborate kaleidoscopic screensaver, MetaScope (seen below), which I sold as shareware for a time. While watching it, you could type in words like Britney Spears or Kittens or Picasso. It would pull matching images from Google image search, and in seconds, you would get a gorgeous kaleidoscope, customized to your personal interests. These searches could be saved and randomized. The screensaver also had a hidden easter egg that enabled it to be used to perform a magic trick (based on my Google Fool principle).

meta_snapshot.jpg

Here I am talking about Kaleidoscopes and Information Theory at Gel 2007. Note: Part 2 of this video is on the Whitney Music Box page.