Strange Loop

Adventures in the vBuffer

WebGL is a great tool for making GPU-powered generative art available to anyone with a browser. But it has some downsides: it has an ancient and somewhat obscure API and, no matter how hard we can get the graphics card to work, performance difficulties can arise — especially when trying to generate multiple independent shapes.

On a quest to solve these issues, I passed through the vale of the virtual dom, spent time mastering the secrets of thunks and diffing algorithms, learned to imitate the call of the web graphics library, got down with browser profiling tools and the garbage collectors, and survived long nights in two separate castles haunted by immutable ghosts.

Having returned from this adventure, I can't say I brought back a definitive solution — the real treasure was the lessons and strategies I picked up along the way. Using as much art as code, I hope to provide these to you, for use when you run up against performance issues in the pursuit of art.

Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo

Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo


Sarah Groff Hennigh-Palermo is an artist and programmer. Currently a member of Kickstarter's front-end team, Sarah has pursued questions about technology, art, and the philosophies of both at the School for Poetic Computation, the Recurse Center, and NYU's Integrated Digital Media master's program.