An Interactive and Animated Starry Night by Petros Vrellis

February 12, 2012

An Interactive and Animated Starry Night by Petros Vrellis

When I look at Starry Night by Van Gogh, I can almost see the movement in the lines and patterns—I see the sky flowing and the hills undulating. Van Gogh captured this action with static brush strokes, and now Petros Vrellis has set the iconic image into real motion.

The designer used openframeworks to turn the painting into an interactive canvas. The paint daubs become part of a fluid circulation of 80,000 particles, drawn in as "small opengl minimaps." The visualization can live in a touchscreen interface, allowing users to interact with the piece. By touching or pulling the surface, one can interrupt and manipulate the flow of strokes and pattern of synthesized sounds.

The work finds success in subtlety. The viewer can't completely knock out the original form through interaction, and the piece adjusts itself quietly and seamlessly back to its original pattern.

Some techie details—according to the Huffington Post: Petros did not compute the velocity field automatically and had to manually set it himself—a challenge to get just right. He gets about "30fps at 1920×1080 with an intel i5-2500K and a geforce GTX560," and the multitouch tracking interface was created with ofxKinect and ofxOpenCV. The music that plays and changes through interaction was "the result of much experimentation and luck."

Some other hand-picked posts you might enjoy on our Design Blog:

LAIKA: A Dynamic and Responsive Typeface
The Path of Protest: An Interactive Timeline of the Arab Spring
The Happy Machine by Physalia Motion Graphics Studio

Via Huffington Post

Jessica Patterson

Jessica Patterson

Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm a Designer and Writer at Drawbackwards and write for the Design Blog at I enjoy vintage things, letterpress, publication design, and long walks around the Cesar Chavez Park pond. You can follow me on twitter at @jessdoodled for lots of fun randomness.

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