Archives for the Month of November, 2005

All systems Crystallize!


It’s that time again for a Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture, and what a fine weekend it looks set to be in that disused office building in Utrecht. On Friday EZCT give a workshop on ‘genetic algorithms as a tactic for meandering through the possibility space of architectonic forms’. Saturday brings in the Arch-OS crew who will undoubtedly talk about their ‘Operating System’ for contemporary architecture which has been developed to provide artists and technologists with an environment for developing transdisciplinary work. Sunday looks like be a really exciting day with no fewer than 6 presentations – There’s Tom Carden, whose recent Openstreetmap poster has been a massive hit. OpenStreetMap put together all the GPS data it has in London (mainly via eCourier) and made a beautiful poster from it. Theres also a presentation by Christina Ray, co-founder of Glowlab and special agent in the proliferation of psycogeographic events in New York, notably the PsyGeo Con Flux conventions. Franziska Huebler and Jeremy Abbot, who I had the good fortune to meet two weeks ago at Crystalpunk, run TruthDareDoubleDare, a design studio working on physical computing projects. Other presentations come from the Hyperbody Research Group, Orkan Telhan and the anarchic C6 whose recent exhibition was a sell-out!

Attractor Explorations

Alluvial Fan – Nathan Selikoff

Nathan Selikoff explores Chaotic Attractor Space using his own custom built software written using C++, OpenGL, and GLUT. Whilst images of dynamical systems are commonly encountered on the web – trophies of mathematical conjecture, it’s always good to see Strange Attractors approached from an artistic perspective.

‘The algorithm for generating the basic attractors was set forth in Clifford Pickover’s Chaos in Wonderland; the equations used are iterated functions that plot between a hundred thousand and a few million pixels. Attractors are colorized by mapping pixel density in the range [0-1] to a user-defined colour gradient.’

Incidentally, Clifford Pickover’s, Chaos in Wonderland, describes creatures on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede who visualize beautiful chaotic attractors in their dreams!

Nathan’s ‘Aesthetic Explorations’ was originally spotted at Jer Thorpe’s Blprnt

Tom Carden, recently alerts us to a set of subtle and exquisitely coloured computational smoke renderings by Clive Tooth. At times the geometry of the smoke appears as if it has been captured in a very small but precise tornado – subtle spirals of fine particles appear as fine shell-like objects. On request Clive has outlined the process and algorithms used to produce such shapes.

Ty Lettau has visualised some of the well know species of attractor space at Soundofdesign in Flash. Lorenz, Duffin, Rossler and Poincare are all visualised iteratively, in a clean and effective interface, so you can see how they build in space-time.

Network Drawings and Conspiracy Constellations

World Finance Corporation and Associates Mark Lombardi

Laurie Reid makes non-digital organic network diagram drawings in natural colour palettes. Familiar schemas appear – apparent digital cartographies and biological cellular groupings representing connections between neurons or IP addresses depending on your position.

Mark Lomabardi (1951-2000) explored the complex relationships between global finance and government to chart scandalous activities producing works of art that at first glance seem to be abstract constellations.

‘The conspiracies were not hypothetical or imaginary ones, but real ones like Iran-Contra. To do this, Mark pulled together hundred of facts from mainstream publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, and L.A. Times, cross referenced them on index cards – he had around 14,000 of them – and then laid out the schemes using carefully composed flow charts. His medium of choice: graphite on paper.’

Solid State Pulsations

CNC Milled Work – Jeffery Garman

Jeffery Garman experiments with a metal milling machine to produce ‘wave propagation surfaces’ in solid metal. Check out his WavePlates, some of which neatly include the algorithms for producing these complex surfaces of wave interference. This solid manifestation of wave interference connects nicely with an earlier post on Cimatics.

Also related is Herz Fassen – where a bowl of water becomes a storage device for discrete information and makes visible your heartbeat. Via Infosthetics

Radical Software

Radical Software
Radical Software

Radical Software, published from the early 70’s, connects a portal through into a time when video art was pure edge and the political economy of the medium was being explored exhaustively.

Davidson Gigliotti and Ira Schneider, of the Videofreex and Raindance video collectives respectively, Phyllis Gershuny Segura and Beryl Korot founded Radical Software in the early 70’s – its importance being the only periodical devoted to Video Art at the time. Later they have put online, in PDF form, the complete set.

Contributors include Nam June Paik, Buckmister Fuller and Gene Youngblood. Enough to say the least. Perusing through the issues I found an article of interest to algorithmic artisans by Manfred Mohr. In it Mohr correctly reasons that his own pre-computer work could be seen as algorithmic in the sense that he uses repeated gestures in making his drawings – a kind of programmatic language already there.



’What the Elephant man is to the Athletic Body, the Crystalpunk room will be to the Smart House’

Just back from the Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture which was in operation in Utrecht, Holland. Wilfried, the greatest PsychoCrystallographer in the World, did a fantastic job of bringing together a fine selection of interesting Crystalpunks for the weekend allowing the opportunity for collaboration, discussion and amusement.

The main crystalpunk lab existed inside a glass cube inside a room located inside a disused modular office building not far from Utrecht’s beautiful city centre. The room, which became its own subject created a space for those wanting to become active at the intersection of new media, architecture, design and programming to explore nu-edge paradigms and become Crystalpunk!

On Saturday Manuel Dahm gave a Proce55ing tour and workshop. After 3d lattices were obtained via code he showed us how get Proce55ing to talk to Wiring boards. A special breakthrough came when Manuel found that he could control the speed of rotation of a servo-motor to produce a kind of music! I suspect a full ensemble of servo-motors controlled by proce55ing will come into existence before very long.

On Sunday talks were given by Jo Walsh – presenting her semantic web work and Inga Zimprich who discussed the work being done at Thinktank – a group she co-founded. Later I presented Talysis – a film work in progress utilising video feedback, expect some documentation to follow. Drawing the weekend to a close, Pete Gomes showed some of his films including the classics ‘Central Control’ and ‘I am not afraid.’

It was also good to meet up with Karen Curley who brought along some fine analogue video feedback films she has made. Auke Touwslager who talked about his info-schema philosophies and mapping tools. and Ursula Lavrencic who’s work I mentioned previously at Dataisnature. I also had the opportunity to meet Thomas of PedestrianLevitation; and Franziska Huebler + Jeremy Abbett of Truthdaredoubledare who work with physical computing devices and textiles.

The workshop has been running since September 10th and is on to December 17, 2005. Its is open to anyone interested every Tuesday (19.00-23.00) and Saturday (14.00-18.00) In the coming weeks there will also be a wide variety of quality guest presentations – check out the workshop page for more details on the program of events.

CrystalPunk Workshop – 12,13,14 November


’Hidden in the former utility area of a vacant 13 floor office in Utrecht, the “Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture” will evolve an empty room from nothingness into unknown states of technological enhancement. Unlike the alphabet that always knows where it is going, this workshop does not.’

I’ll be out of the London game next weekend for a visit to the Crystal Punk Workshop for Soft Architecture in Utrecht. Along with other crystallographers ill be presenting some ideas/images/videos/diagrams relating to the speculative fiction and science of Crystal Punk.

As part of the ‘Making it so’ afternoon, Sunday 13 November 15.00-18.00, I’ll be looking at autocatalytic image making, machines and techniques for self-reflective pattern generation. From recursive algorithms through to digital video feedback.

Other’s involved that weekend include:

Manuel Dahm, who will be conducting a proce55ing + Wiring workshop. The workshop is free, but you might want to bring your laptop (and install the software before you come) if you have one.

Pete Gomes, from Mutantfilms, Who will be presenting some of his film/video work. Peter’s work operates at the intersection between cinema and computers, experimental cinema nurtured within the landscape of emergent digital technologies.

Inga Zimprich, Artist and co-founder of Thinktank – a project in which open source programmers and artists are developing software which supports non-commercial social collaboration.

Jo Walsh, semantic web developer, software critic and creator of Nodel – a framework for collaborative knowledge management and information distribution.

’ The Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture will from Friday 11 to Sunday 13 November be open for crystalpunks and public to work, learn and discuss what is needed to develop soft architecture.’

Crystalpunk is organised by the one and only Wilfried Hou Je Bek and produced by Impakt for the Impakt 2005 Festival




Symmetry has been a long-standing obsession. A random inkblot spawns arms, legs, petals and tentacles if it’s fed a mirror, quadruple the symmetry and you’ll find the VJ’s staple retinal snack. More so, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung believed that drawing quaternary images (including mandalas) could be used to create a sacred and protected psychological space.

While I was working on Klex and researching the terrain I came across some other dreamers that had been enchanted by the children’s game that was later aberrated to meet the needs of the Psychodiagnostique by Mr Rorschach.

Gilles Balmet treats us to a calligraphy of Klecksographie – as if Rorschach himself was an obsessive downtown graffiti artist in 80’s New York. This Automatic writing is already loaded with unconscious information, so Klexing it up only doubles the diagnostic trouble!

If John Landon isn’t playing with the symmetry of language his exploring the symmetry of shape and paint, often the two collide and his ambigrams find their way into his Rorschach paintings.

‘The homage to Andy Warhol represented the last of the Rorschach paintings with words reversed out of random images. Since then, the letters themselves are symmetrically created without distracting surroundings. This purer form brings these images back closer to their ambigram ancestors.’

Which brings us to Andy Warhols ‘Rorschach’ paintings:

‘Liquid, protean and seductively vacant, they reflect your own desires and fantasies right back at you. Conceived in the spirit of superstar Nico’s beguiling promise (“I’ll be your mirror”), these pictures will be whatever you want them to be.’

The story of these Rorschach paintings is typically Warholian and satisfyingly amusing.

Andrew Childs

Lines 9e – Andrew Childs

If you enjoy elegant minimal generative art prepare to lose some time at Andrew Childs library of Flash and Proce55ing works. If you are a Flash head you may remember Andrews ‘Megatight’ site where many of these Flash works were originally housed. The interface is composed of hanging bars, less densely packed the further they are to the right of screen, the effect is almost ornamental and tree-like. For me, many of these works remind us of painting and drawing. Most pieces use the classic generative idiom – simple units, lines or shapes, in mutated tones built up into more complex geometric designs sometimes with interaction. Great stuff!