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Publication . Conference object . 2019

Hydra: live coding networked visuals

Olivia Jack;
Open Access
Published: 16 Jan 2019
Publisher: Zenodo

Hydra ( is a browser-based platform for live coding visuals, in which each window of the browser can be used as a node of a modular and distributed video synthesizer. Most libraries and abstractions for creating graphics computationally are focused on 2D shapes (SVG and canvas) or simulating 3D rendering. The presentation will instead explore generative graphics inspired by modular, analog video synthesizers from the 1970s, in which visuals are created by routing, transforming, and recombining multiple sources and outputs in real time (such as cameras, videos, and application windows). By using WebRTC (realtime web streaming) to share video peer-to-peer, each browser/device can output a video stream, and receive and modify video streams from other browsers/devices. Transformations to the color, coordinates, and blending of a visual source are abstracted as separate functions which can be chained and composited to create complex visual patterns. The presentation and demo will explore technical, aesthetic, and collaborative possibilities of live coding on the internet, when a website is treated as a series of interconnected and heterogeneous nodes, rather than as a specific “site” or “place”.

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