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Contents © 2014 Golan Levin and Collaborators

Golan Levin and Collaborators

Catalogues and Lists

Web Site Picks for FreshFroot

Published at www.freshfroot.com (now defunct)
Golan Levin, February 2001.

I was asked to pick my favorite 10 web sites for the FreshFroot design review website, and write a bit about each. FreshFroot no longer exists.

Grafica Obscura
There are really a million flashy over-designed commercial web sites out there. I don't care for any of them, and I'm not about to advertise any of them here. Instead, the sites I've selected represent the work of individual people not corporations whose work strikes me as demonstrating both a wide-ranging intellect and a unique aesthetic stance. Paul Haeberli is at the top of my list. He's a researcher who is well known in the field of computer graphics for dozens of innovations. But he's also a provocateur extraordinaire, who has more ideas in one month than most people have in their entire lifetimes. The Grafica Obscura is the online journal of his experiments.

Craig Reynold's Steering Behaviors
Craig Reynolds is another hero of mine, and another computer graphics pioneer. His work is rigorous and understated. The site I've selected here is an exploration of how one can simulate the movements of autonomous characters. His demonstrative applets are spare, economical, lovely. And they have a rare, dry charm.

Martin Wattenberg melds quiet, contemplative interactions with a real sense of humor and a deep understanding of computation. He's better-known in the real world for his SmartMoney MarketMap, but I rather prefer his more personal experiments on Bewitched.

Painting with Interactive Pixels
I hear secondhand that Dag Svanaes has moved on from software and is now studying what is popularly called Tangible Computing or Physical Computing. I've chosen one of his old software pieces, that really emphasizes the idea that pixels can have *intelligence*. It's barely documented and roughly framed, but this piece has a spare elegance which is more than rare. Draw with the pencil tool, and then interact with the diagonal-arrow cursor; the "inks" simulate pushbuttons with a variety of behaviors.

Lia is an amazingly dedicated computational designer, and acutely sensitive to details. Turux is a collaboration between her and Dextro; I also admire her own personal site, www.re-move.org.

The Truth Will Make You Sneeze
Cassidy Curtis's mind.... well. It's very wide ranging. Editorially speaking, I especially love the way he mixes tiny little hacks with ridiculously over-the-top brute force solutions. He makes the difficult seem easy, and the easy seem unfamiliar.

http://www.nofrontiere.com/Nofrontierans/ (no longer available)
An oldie but a goodie. I think it's especially worthwhile to contrast the Nofrontierans with the SODA constructor <http://www.sodaplay.com/>. Such different strategies for communicating personality!

Scott Draves
Good ideas meet muscular execution in Scott Draves' work. I find "Fuse", his work in associative image reconstruction, both fascinating and provocatively revolting.

Drew Olbrich
I found Drew's site through Cassidy's. There's almost zero "design" here, if "design" means DHTML and Flash. Instead, Drew's tools are C++, raw ideas and a lot of wit. Skip the drawings, and check out "penrose tiles", "phlegm", and his many brilliant hacks.

Snibbe's projects
Scott's work has been a great influence on mine, especially his "MotionPhone".

Fry's Anemone
This page will require a fast connection and some patience. Ben has created a stunning interactive visualization of real-time web traffic. It's an example of what he calls "organic information design", in which a simulation of a living organism metabolizes data, and visualizes it through its behavior and overall appearance.

Finally, the obligatory shameless plug, as I'm involved in this one. Singlecell is an online bestiary in which a different designer contributes an interactive 'creature' every month. Singlecell began this January when a number of us realized that we had all been inspired by some of the thinking behind Danny Brown's "Bits and Pieces", and some of John Maeda's classroom assignments from the MIT Media Lab. Keep checking it every month to see the new work.