I’m not sentimental about the holidays, but I do love having some free time where the whole world slows down and I can work on fun things in peace. I no longer live somewhere with a real winter, but now I can make my own snowy virtual world, and put it up on the web where anyone with an oculus rift and webVR browser can access it (also works in regular reality in most normal browsers).
The snowdecahedra that make up the landscape represent the dodecaphonic music (writing precise twelve tone music is like a tricky puzzle where the prize for solving it is cool noises). Dodecahedra have twelve sides, while the wireframe icosahedra have 12 vertices. The snowflakes are actually five-sided starflakes, to match the fiveness of the dodecahedral faces.
The music is a massive manipulation of “What Child is This,” with the melody taken from a different 12-tonification of it I wrote, and then in the harmonies at the end the three voices take that tone row and sing the inversion, retrograde, and retrograde inversion, at the same time. So, highly symmetric tone rows and highly symmetric objects.
The Twelve Tones of Christmas is a take on the classic holiday song, but in hyperbolic space and with 12 tone music. It’s part interactive music video, part educational math visualization, and apparently genuinely terrifies some people.
I’ve been working with Henry Segerman on hyperbolic space stuff recently, so as long as we already had a tiling of right-angle dodecahedra working in VR (which happened during a long evening of hacking with Mike Stay), and since I’d just recorded a 12-tone rendition of 12 days, it just made sense to make the dodecahedra have each face be one of the twelve days and then set them to turn on and off in time with the music.
Theoretically, each gift tiles out infinitely in infinitely many hyperbolic planes, and then the 12 sets of intersecting planes form the dodecahedral tiling. It’s cool how it builds up over time, and so amazing to fly around hyperbolic space in VR.
I want to talk more about alternative spaces in VR soon, because we’ve been doing fun stuff in hyperbolic spaces, 4d stuff, etc, with Henry, Mike, Andrea, and Marc ten Bosch, and it’s really what I want VR for.
We’ve made the music and art for both holiday projects public domain, and the source code is on github.