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How To Make Glitch Selfies With Your Webcam

With "Gush," Los Angeles-based new media artist Adam Ferriss invites you to go Web 2.0+.

by Benoit Palop
Jul 7 2014, 9:10pm

You're all alone in your office and it's vacation time. While your colleagues are busy getting sun and enjoying the warm weather, why not take a few moments from your afternoon to have some fun in front of your laptop and make some experimental selfies? With Gush, a new web-based experiment by Adam Ferriss, you can turn your lovely smiling face into a spectrum-skewing glitch image at the click of a button. 

Today, the Los Angeles-based new media artist offered The Creators Project an exclusive look at Gush, which that allows users to generate glitchy and dynamic selfies with their webcams. By using Andrew Benson's hsFLow shaders as a backbone, Ferriss has brought the application to the browser format thanks to a javascript / webGL interface, and has added new effects along with his own personal aesthetic flourishes.

While the webcam captures the movements, a generative and evolutive loop gives rise to fluid, glitched-out and distorted textures that structure and restructure themselves in the GIF format. By integrating Gush in the browser, Ferriss adds an interactive aspect that places the user at the center of this creative process.

We got in touch with Ferriss to understand the various steps behind his creative approach and how, from Benson's work, he expanded and revamped the image capture device towards his own intentions. Ferriss expands:

The first I saw of these shaders was Andrew’s video "More Like You." Couple years back he released the source shaders along with some max patches on the Cycling 74 forums. I don’t know max/jitter very well or at all so initially I got this working in OpenFrameworks. I was curious about figuring out how it worked and wanted to make my own variant of the project. At the outset I knew nothing about creating digital feedback loops, so this was really the beginning of a lot of feedback loop experimentation for me.

”Once I got something that felt 'new' enough, I made a couple screen recordings of myself in front of the webcam. I made a controllable standalone app for Yung Jake to use in one of his live performances at MOCAtv too,” he tells The Creators Project.

“It was fun opening the app up for my friends and watching them play with it, so putting it in the browser felt like the next step in terms of making it shareable," Ferriss continues. "However, it took quite a while to learn how to translate everything into webGL. Andrew was really helpful for all of that, and was nice enough to talk me through all of my questions. I ended up relying heavily on his flow project for a lot of the basic webGL setup functions.”

Finally, concerning the technical details and the visual effects, he added, “The effect works by creating a 'flow' image from a comparison of the current frame and previous frame. The flow looks like a colored contour image when there is movement in the scene. The flow output is plugged into another shader that runs in a feedback loop, continually blending new frames on top of old ones.”

Gush is online and available for the public to experiment with today. Click here to test it out for yourself.

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