• DistCollective

Illusion City

Illusion City reflects the variety of Istanbul by its different and divergent zones, day and night, humid summers and ice cold winters, colorful neighborhoods and giant plazas, its never ending human and vehicle traffic.


Illusion City is an expression of how we experience this city, kind of like a love and hate relationship. The city that is a cradle of civilizations now has become a concrete jungle. Our beautiful city and its citizens are trying to find their own balance in this state of chaos.


We wanted to express these complex emotions with a long form generative artwork since it is the most suitable medium to explore every possible combination of emotions we have about our city. In order to demonstrate ‘chaos’ we figured that we need to create ‘order’ first and then break it down. Always wanted to work with grid systems, therefore we created a simple grid and also tried to work with several irregular grid systems (a big shout-out to Ahmad Moussa for his article about grid systems) but couldn’t catch the aesthetic quite likely the way we wanted. Then we decided to return to our beloved ‘particle drawing system’ (which we used in every fxhash project except ‘Etudes’ and ‘Orbis’) and found our solution here. We used the XOR operator once more (our first experiment with the XOR operator resulted in Haluna) but this time we manipulated the particle angles rather than the movement. Came up with this very basic formula;


mult = height / 100000 / 1.78 * (spaceDiv / 10)


This formula scales the particle angles according to the grid sizes. Making straight lines out of noisy curves resulted with the similar irregularity we have been looking for.



As a first layer, we started with the background elements. We wanted to have hand-drawn like grid lines with a bunch of scalene triangles to amplify the irregular feel within the grid system and create a messy texture.



All this straightened noise, grid lines and bunch of triangles only forms the background layer. But the structure of Istanbul is much more than that with its neighborhoods, buildings and other living elements..


For the foreground, we used gradient colors to represent the thronged neighborhood of Istanbul. The wide range of generative color palettes (from full spectrum to pre-made monochrome palettes) represents how an experience in this city differs from one individual to another. But still with particle systems, grid lines and other background features, the end result seemed still very raw.


Therefore there was a need of some kind of a complexity to create a dynamic foreground where we found the solution in this city’s most iconic problem; its people. What would be the most dynamic elements of Istanbul? Of course, its crowded streets, traffic jams and complex relations between its people. Therefore we came up with a solution which we called ‘toppings’. Toppings function comprises of points, rectangles, straight and curvy lines which refers to buildings, people, networks, vehicles etc. And how these topping elements positioned reflects the dynamic relations between these elements. Such as; sometimes everything is positioned random and overlaps, or sometimes everything is somewhat organized.




Lastly for the top layer, removing some grids (mostly partially) with ‘white squares’ is the essence of our experience of Istanbul, an ever changing city. We also added more ‘toppings’ to reflect how juxtaposed we live in this city.





Combining these 3 layers was fun and challenging since it became so chaotic after the 3rd layer and it was a little bit hard to find the right balance. But it turned out nicely. Also playing with what we call; particle angle compositions, in short; compositions, felt different in this series because it was the first time that compositions were not the main focus point but rather they were mostly worked together with the ‘toppings’. We also mapped the particle coordinates to create gradient colors. In this series color picking system works with a very basic algorithm, which operates like creating triads in music. First, the algorithm selects a ‘root’ color then adds the necessary intervals. Besides the generative color algorithm we used some pre-made color palettes from our past works. But diversity and wide range of color palettes came up with the use of blendModes. Especially ‘difference’ mode worked really well with the ‘white squares’ resulting with the night versions of the city.





You can find Illusion City live on fxhash.