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Jared Tarbell
// levitated

Where do you get the ideas for your experiments from?
I get the ideas for my experiments from nature, long standing principles of computer science, and texts on various subjects.

What/who are your sources of inspiration?
I am inspired to program in Flash because of the huge audience capable of viewing the work. My original motivation to really learn the language was Joshua Davis and his work at Praystation. The things he was doing with the web in 2000 were enough to keep me writing code through the cumbersome drop down menus of Flash 4.

Where do you see digital lifeform experiments in 20 years? 
In 20 years experiments in digital life will be walking the halls and plugging themselves in at night. I see an unbounded world of computational life exhibiting all the hardships, triumphs, and blasted weirdness of organic life.

What was the First roadblock you experienced with Flash?
My first roadblock with Flash was the confusion resulting from the large number of places in which code could be placed. Never before had I seen a programming language where the code was applied on the object it was describing. Eventually I learned to love this particular feature. This pretty much sums up the ongoing relationship I have had with Flash.

What would you say to those who want to learn advanced ActionScript? Credentials? Programming experience?
Which books would you recommend, if any?

For those who want to learn advanced ActionScript, I would say 'do something everyday'. Even if it's just a simple program that pushes squares around, the experience of actually working within the development environment is incomparable. Force yourself to use a particular feature even when the result is a nonsensical SWF lying dormant somewhere across the hard drive.

What would you like to see in the next Flash release?
I would like to see some sort of a 'drop to bitmap' function, allowing quick and efficient translation of a movieclip into its bitmap representation. Then of course there would need to be a whole set of functions to manipulate the bitmap plane, which is way outside the scope of Flash. Nevertheless, when I am building constructs out of thousands of static, unresponsive movieclips, it would be nice to 'photograph' them so as to free computational resources.

Which features/tools do you use most in Flash? What's your favorite ActionScript function/tool? (like: setInterval, attachMovie, etc.) 
The tool I most often use in Flash MX is 'Align'.

'attachMovie' is without question my favorite Flash ActionScript command. Many who have seen my work understand immediately that I am a big fan of both recursive construction and dynamic instantiation. Without those particular techniques, I would most likely be working in a pet shop.

What other programs are you avidly interested in besides Flash?
I am most avid about tools and applications I can use to visualize larges sets of information. Terragen fits into this category. So does 3D Studio Max.

If you were given the chance to meet one person, past or present, who would it be and why?
Nikola Tesla because he lived in Colorado and was an insane genius.

Thanks to Jared Tarbell (levitated.net) for agreeing to answer the questions the moderators and Kirupa had for him. Thanks to the moderator vts31 and the rest who helped provide the ideas/questions for this interview before Kirupa eagerly e-mailed them to Jared.


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