Archives for the Month of January, 2006


Talysis by Paul Prudence
Talysis I – Paul Prudence

Here are some stills from Talysis – a short film I made for the Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture held in Utrecht, Holland in Autumn 2005. The film explored elements self-organisation and crystallisation – autocatalytic replication and recursive symmetry using digital video feedback.

Its navigates the possibility of a sentient geometry to produce a stream of geometric archetypes; a collective unconscious for emergent dynamical systems; a video feedback language system for pattern recognition.


Tompopo – Kentaro Yamada

Certain species, animal or plant, have almost archetypal status amongst computational artisans dealing with the simulation of natural forms. Consider the vast array of certain things that grow, swim and swarm that have been repeatedly recreated on the computer screen. When I look at a tree now it is almost impossible not to see the mathematical schema of L-systems hidden below the branching surface.

Tompopo is an interactive installation allowing visitors to disperse the spores of a dandelion by blowing onto a microphone.

‘ In Japan, as is in New Zealand; dandelions occupy a sphere of folklore. A simple action of blowing creates a space amongst the bustle of human doings, it creates a direct relationship with nature, and it acts as a trigger of memories and nostalgic journeys. Perhaps it triggers memories of wishes made and long since forgotten.’

Kentaro Yamada, the works creator, says he ‘sees programming as a structure that is not the antithesis of nature, but also as a responsive environment in itself. Both the programming environment and the natural environment are full of conditions and variables, of predictable and non-predictable patterns.’

elsewhere of interest:

The Dandelion Field by David Bouchard

Hypernuatical Industries by Amy Young

Paardebloem by Harm van den Dorpel

Cyberweeds: The Virtual Dandelion at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Translator II: Grower

Translator II: Grower – Sabrina Raaf

Translator II: Grower is a simple robot vehicle that navigates the edges of a room drawing lines of grass on the walls corresponding to the levels of carbon dioxide in the air. A remote carbon dioxide sensor tells the robot how much C02 is in the environment every few seconds, the height of the drawn grass is dramatically affected by the amount of people in the room as a result of their C02 output.

‘The metaphoric relation is that grass needs CO2 in nature to grow. Here, my simulated grass needs the breath of human visitors in order to thrive. The height of the ‘grass’ directly reflects on the human activity or traffic in the space. The more people that visit that space, the more amenable that space is to my machine’s ability to create. The relationship between Translator II: Grower, the space, and the public becomes a cross-metabolic one. This piece makes visible how art institutions depend on their visitors to make them ‘healthy’ spaces for new art to evolve and flourish within’

Translator II: Grower was made by Chicago-based artist Sabrina Raaf

Flickr flotsam

Flickr Related Tag Browser
The Flickr Related Tag Browser

Planet internet seems to have gone Flickr crazy. While I love the idea of tagged pictures for shared interest and community fostering – like some others, I’m kinda wondering where all this visual information might end up. There have been concerns over indiscriminate and non consensual publishing, further are we just making it easier for the ever watchful authorative eye to keep tabs (tags?) on our moves and grooves. Paranoia aside for now, I’ve found some wonderful sets of images – look out for a post on some of my favourites soon.

There are also some of the excellent Flickr apps, built mostly with Flash, that make use of the open source Flickr API:

Retrievr is an experimental service which lets you search and explore a selection of Flickr images by drawing a rough sketch.

The Flickr Related Tag Browser lets you surf Flickr’s ‘tag space’. Flickr tags are keywords used to classify images. Each tag has a list of ‘related’ tags, based on clustered usage analysis.

Quasimondo has built Tagnautica, another tags-space search engine and visualisation with sublime interaction and animation, while you’re over there also check out his Clockr and Flickeur.

‘Flickeur (pronounced like Voyeur) randomly retrieves images from and creates an infinite film with a style that can vary between stream-of-consciousness, documentary or video clip. All the blends, motions, zooms or timeleaps are completely random. Flickeur works like a looped magnetic tape where incoming images will merge with older materials and be influenced by the older recordings’ magnetic memory. The virtual tape will also play and record forward and backward to create another layer of randomness. This principle will create its own sometimes very suggestive or scary story. It might take a few minutes until the tape has accumulated enough material to not show any empty screens anymore.’

The result is a random generative film with surrealist leanings. Another word that comes to mind aside ‘Voyeur’ that is phonetically pertinent, as well as meaningful to this project is ‘Flâneur.’

‘The flâneur is the stroller, the pedestrian who finds delight and pleasure in ambling contentedly and unhurriedly through the city. To promenade without purpose is the highest ambition of the flâneur. Walking in the city is its own reward. Benjamin observes: “an intoxication comes over the man who walks long and aimlessly through the streets. With each step, the walk takes on greater moment’

So what about only including city related tags in Flickeur to produce a generative virtual psychogeographic tour of city streets?

Finally, for this moment at least, check out Jim Bumgardner’s Colrpickr which does a great job of sorting through the Flickr database using a colour search – this one could be really useful.


The Crystalpunk Softscreen

Wilfired has posted a list of reports and reviews of the Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture over at socialfiction’s ‘stream of consciousness’. There were a couple of soft encapsulations of the punk meme completed towards the end of the workshop worth highlighting. The Crystalpunk Softscreen from Ursula Lavrenčič and Auke Touwslager is a flexible projection surface made out of paper, animated by airflow corresponding to the movement of Crystalpunks in and through the Crystalpunk room. Wi-R-Crystals, which utilises Proce55ing and Wiring, is a visualisation of the crystallisations of human activity.

‘The installation is a setup of 36 wires that fall down from the ceiling to touch a conductive (5V) board. Each wire is connected to a Wiring board. If the contact of a wire with the conductive board is broken by a person, this triggers the building of a cube in a Processing. Every half second a visual output is given in the form of a series of cubes. Like this, huge structures are built’

Sundial Watches – Futurefarmers


The cultivators at Futurefarmers have come up with some interesting conjectural sculptures that explore the possibilities of interfacing with nature. Take for example these Sundial Watches, elegantly constructed from paper, string and foam. The watches question our reliance on technological devices in our daily lives and offer us the possibility of experiencing time from the first hand source, the sun. It further negates the importance of the work-a-day clock in favour of experiencing time from a astro-cosmological point of view.

Photosynthesis Robot posits the idea of a machine driven by plant phototropism (the movement of plants towards the sun) and Botanical Gameboy looks at the idea of powering a gaming network utilising power harnessed entirely from lemons!

Samorost 2


A creature hammers a metallic ammonite while a space monkey swings on giant opium poppies. Guide our little vector-sprite through the enchanted world of Samorost. If you experienced the original episode prepared to become even more immersed.

Lektrolab /: Microtel.

Lektrolab practice the alchemical art of circuit bending, game cartridge hacking and, as one of their workshops tells us, making images with obsolete computers. Their latest project, Microtel invites you to become a participate in a collective art piece utilising the Teletext protocol, a system which encodes extra information in analogue TV signals originating in the UK in the 70’s and becoming popular in the 80’s.

‘Teletext uses the VBI part of the television broadcast signal. VBI stand for the vertical blanking interval – the portion of the broadcast TV signal occupied by Teletext and other data streams.’

Graphics are limited but retro-safe, basic colours radiate 8bit photons. A submissions page is available at the site for inspiration. Residents of the Netherlands can view Microtel on their TV’s during 25 January – 5 February 2006.


Tom Carden’s tube times applet

Tom Carden offers the new year a funky little applet that interactively visualises the London Tube network not through the usual geography of each stations proximity but by the time it takes to journey from one station to another. Click on your favourite start point and watch the map configure itself as if were alive.

Oskar Karlin had also been working along similar lines – literally, his Time Travel maps were completed as one of his final projects for the London College of College of Communication. All you time-starved Londoners can download a PDF of his creation for a printout for your hallway! (Both links via infosthetics)

The London tube map has almost mythical status to some Londoners – and for me it’s a nebulous sigil that represents a network of emotions and memories. It’s a source of inspiration for a multitude of people in varying disciplines too:

Have a look at Trude: the London tube map redrawn as if it were an airline route map and the Tube map with walklines both by Rod McLaren. While you’re in the vicinity why not check out a picture from the ingenious, but somewhat uptight, Wayout Tube map book or even the New York subway map done in the London stylee!

Also not to forget Simon Pattersons, ‘The Great Bear’ which was short-listed for the Turner Prize sometime after it was completed in 1992. And before you go here’s the much in demand geographically exact tube map. Oh and some more historical maps!

London Bloggers is a directory of weblogs written by people who live or work in London, organised by the rather iconic London Tube map’



SequoiaView allows you to view the contents of your hard drive – the resultant visualisation is a quilted pattern that uses the Treemap schema to represent data. The Treemap schema commonly represents larger quantities of data with large surface areas and conversely small areas for small amounts of data, it allows rapid appreciation of large sets of data at a quick glance. SequoiaView was developed by the computer science department of the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and can be downloaded for free from these pages.

Newsmap – Marcos Weskamp

Other classic Treemap works from memory include Marcos Weskamp’s Newsmap which transmutes news aggregated from google into a Mondrian-esque patchwork of headlines and Lateral’s homepage, try playing with the colour scheme at the top right corner.