Archives for the Month of July, 2005

Does a computer make mistakes?

How It Works – The Computer

From ‘How it works…The Computer’ is this page and highly suitable graphics.

‘As many as thirty components can now be fitted into a capsule approximately one-third of a cubic centimetre in volume’ (1971)

So… Here are some of my favourite ‘mistakeful’ Computers:

Hal9000 – 2001 A Space Odyssey. “I know that you were planning to disconnect me, and that’s something that I cannot allow to happen.” Also check out kubrick2001

Proteus – Demon Seed. Seen here are Proteus IV’s “modules,” located at the “ICON Institute for Data Analysis.”

The talking nuclear bomb (HAL parody) – Dark Star.Lt. Doolittle revives Commander Powell who advises them to teach “Phenomenology” to the Bomb

Colossus – The Forbin Project. Colossus’ interior is vast and underground, similar in appearance to the Krell’s supercomputer.

Oh and misbehaving droids are another post altogether, lets start with Westworld.

addendum : on further perusal of one of the above links is appears as if someone has allready been there.

What do PKD androids dream of?

PKD Android

The PKD android project has been set up by a team of artists, engineers and literary scholars to create, perhaps, Philip K Dick’s worse nightmare or greatest fantasy, an android portrait of himself. This blog tracks the development of the PKD android as it/he comes into ‘being’. Theres a kind of recursive humour here as the man himself spent a lot of time ruminating over ideas of sentience within machines and felt he was in contact with an alien machine intelligence much like John C Lilly’s own SSI (Solid State Intelligence).

also check the main PKD android site

via blOgOblOg

Javatronic Typography

Waves – Paul Schmidinger

After my previous posts on expressive typography (here & here) I was happy to find these fine examples of kinetic/interactive typography programmed in java by Paul Scmidinger. ‘Waves’ is particularly interesting the way the obvious water-like collective undulations of the letters have a phase effect and gradually end up appearing as chaotic particles via a number of kinetic transformations. ‘Torus’ is a fantastic example of three dimensionality in moving type.

Paul also has a group of nicely done mouse trailers – originally spotted at Futurefeeder

Julya Sets & Fractal Cities

05250501 – Jock Cooper

After my recent post on fractools, I thought I’d wade through all of those 156,000 results via Google for Fractals (images). I’ve written a personal pattern recognition algorithm that incorporates and encodes my taste in fractals allowing it to filter out all those passé Julia sisters and mandlebrothers, anything with garish colour pallets and anything familiar.

It found these:

Amazing fractal cityscape circuit board elevations, some in 3d. Cities look like circuits of buildings, circuits have roads and data traffic systems. These make me think of Mark Wilson’s beautiful plotter drawings, some of my favourite all-time computational circuit-board schemas, mentioned during the dataisnature embryo stage.

Talking of Fractal cities, check out ‘Connecting the Fractal City’ – a very impressive article about the negative side effects of modern cities drifting away from a growing fractal distribution to an automobile-centric uniformity. This is one of the best articles I’ve found on the web for some time.

In my last fractal outburst I mentioned using L-systems as a psychogeographical tool (Socialfiction has done a lot of work with psychgeoAlogorithms) for navigating cities and even subway systems. Then I find this in my blog’s comments from blprnt, an L-system train network with nodes (stations) and automated trains!

The best fractals of all are the ones already occurring in nature. To get a taste for natural fractals try procuring a Romanesque cauliflower. All members of cauliflower family are fractal but the Romanesque is a particularly beautiful and clear example for those who haven’t met her before.

‘The key notion of a fractal is that it possesses structure on a hierarchy of scales. A structure defined at an overall size x implies something similar at a size rx, where r is a scaling factor like 1/3. For a structure to be fractal, there exist substructure at decreasing sizes r2x, r3x, r4x, etc. A true mathematical fractal has self-similar structures going all the way down to the infinitesimal scales. For a physical fractal, the smallest scales become too small to see, so this implies a range of scales from very large to the very small.

The number r is called the “scaling factor”, and can in theory be any fraction. In most common fractals it is usually some fixed number between 1/2 and 1/10. Naturally-occurring fractals, such as cauliflowers exhibit a nested structure with r not very different from 1/3 (Salingaros, 1995; Salingaros & West, 1999)’. has an application that builds clumps of broccoli (or forests) visualised from website content. The application takes the entire syntactic structure of a site, pages, content and links and makes trunks, branches and leaves. The installation version also processes the information into sound in realitme. So go grow a forest from your blog.

Finally, check out this rather ordinary Fractal, but notice the extremity at its epicentre, its an inverted buddhabrot! Which is as good in fractaland as an inverted pentagram to those that ‘know’ and who have powers……

Interactive Visual Music

Interactive VisualMusic Santiago Ortiz

Santiago Ortiz has built an interesting group of visual musical ‘instruments’ in Flash that explore notions of syneasthetics, combinatorial music and audio-visualisations of fractal landscapes. The pieces have a playful exploratory trajectory of interaction – processing abstract graphical systems into sound and music, and vice versa.

Jordan Belson

Allures – Jordan Belson via Centre for Visual Music

Jordan Belson made the incredible and strange computer sequences for the 1977 film Demon Seed. On further research I also discover he made many experimental art shorts and was originally an abstract expressionist painter – exhibiting large scale artworks at the Guggenheim Museum in the late 1940s.

The titles of Belson’s films are enough to give us an idea of the kind of work he has made: Samahadi, LSD, Cosmos, and Transformation. Often he employs complex geometrical shapes that converge and diverge producing layers of space and colour, pulses of dots circumnavigating an invisible sphere of influence – an attempt at visualising the non-objective through patterns arrived at via mystical study merged with scientific fascination.

“a combination of molecular structures and astronomical events mixed with subconscious and subjective phenomena—all happening simultaneously. The beginning is almost purely sensual, the end perhaps totally nonmaterial. It seems to move from matter to spirit in some way” – Belson

The Unknown Art of Jordan Belson is an entrée into the graphic work of this non-objective film maker.

‘Like his films, Belson’s graphic art is constructed around mystical ideas. He seems to possess special sensibilities that allow him to see what others are not able to see and he is eager to share his vision through those mysterious images; through image abstraction he reveals his understanding of the universe.’

This particular research derive brought me to some other interesting places:

Galaxy: Avant-garde Film-Makers Look Across Space and Time
Visual music / lightshows
Visual music / Films