Archives for the Month of September, 2006

Subdivision Processes


Subdivision is the recursive process of dividing a shape into siblings and then dividing those sibling shapes further and so on. Micheal Hansmeyer uses this procedure to create exquisite 2d and 3d crystalline visualisations using Processing. The monochrome fractal lattices of the ‘Two-dimension Quads’ show up to 10 overlapping iterations of the process. By the time we get to the ‘Three-Dimensional Hybrid Subdivisions’ we find that ‘the shapes of the quads are determined not only by their parents, but also their parents neighbours’ and more specifically that ‘the extent to which parent’s neighbours influence the offspring is controlled through a series of weights’. These 3d forms appear less geometric and more abstracted than their 2d counterparts with tendon-like forms pulling on the surface to form creased skins – the final visualisation reveals Michaels intention for this set of sketches as a way for interior architectural conjecture.

Micheal Hansmeyer’s work has been featured on a previous post regarding algorithmic architecture here.

Flickr Fruits 3

bns_huberChaographie (detail) – _Bns

Continuing those derives through the Flickr labyrinth:

_Bns shows us some Chaographie’s where fragments of typography appear to form broken schemas and disjointed maps.

Maybe slightly off the beaten path for Dataisnature – and quite literally; is Lostamerica’s images of ghost towns and abandoned places which are taken with long exposures and illuminated with strobes and sodium vapour lights to great effect. Sets include an abandoned motel complex, a remote quicksilver mine and, best of all, an airplane bone yard.

Urban data’s ‘writing’ tractectory reveals the missing link between calligrams and grafitti/tagging. The process of the dripping ink adds a time-based process that also recalls the motion of the brush. Human data recorder.

Stephan Huber’s Trabantensplitter shows off some interactive generative studies that have a cool ‘printed’ quality about them. Great glitchey architectural facades & road-mark traceries. Bablefish translates Trabantensplitter to ‘Satellite fragment’ and we can only be happy.

Razorbern’s Geometry set contains abstractions of mostly architectural structures. Brought close into the frame they become flattened to reveal linear repetition and pattern. The facade pictures of Uruguay, Brazil and Hong Kong are particularly compelling, providing inspiration to space-filling algorithmists.

This post was powered by Alva Noto’s ‘For’

Further Processing

‘enerugii wa antee shite inai’ – Toxi

Further Processing, at the Kunstverein Medienturm in Graz, Austria, sees a round up of the latest and greatest works using everybody’s favorite open source generative software, Processing. The exhibition, opening on 23/09/06 and running through to the 25/11/2006 will see classic info visualizations such as Martin Wattenberg’s ‘Thinking Machine’ and Golan Levin’s ‘Dumpster’ positioned against the geometric abstractions of generative artists such as Lia and Toxi to name but a few. For those wanting a peek preview of the work involved check out the press download page. Elsewhere you will find developmental sketches & documentation on some of the artist’s flickr pages – stunning images for example at Toxi’s, Watz’s and Lia’s accounts. Further Processing is co-curated by Marius Watz and Sandro Droschl, director of Kunstverein Medienturm.

Processing Flickr Pool
Processing Blogs

Added Sept28th : see Marius’s more detailed posts on the show:
Further Processing, pt #1: Generative art & Further Processing, pt #2: Data art

The Institute for Figuring – Real World Menger Sponge


In this computationally inclined space we inhabit it’s quite easy to avoid any tangible encounter with an exotic mathematical surface – the nearest we get is probably in architecture. We are treated to fine models of ‘hard to imagine topologies’ on the computer screen but really never get the chance to ‘feel’ them in real space. The 19th centuary, however, saw a great interest in geometry in maths and from the mid 1880’s the great age of mathematical model making began (but more on this a little later down the line).

The wonderful Institute for Figuring brings to us the Business Card Menger Sponge exhibit, where we see a three level Menger Sponge brought into existence by Dr Jeannine Mosely. According to the Institute this incredible object took 9 years of effort involving hundreds of people spread across America and….66.048 buisness cards!

Most will be familiar with the form and algorithm – it is a 3d extension of Sierpinksi’s Carpet which itself is a generalisation of the Cantor Set. It has, of course, a self-similar geometry, it is a recursive fractal object.

From wikipedia, the Menger Sponge (3level) algorithm is a follows:

1.Begin with a cube. Divide every face of the cube into 9 squares. This will sub-divide the cube into 27 smaller cubes, like a Rubik’s Cube

2.Remove the cube at the middle of every face, and remove the cube in the centre. This is a Level 1 Menger sponge.

3.Repeat steps 1-3 for each of the remaining smaller cubes.

Conceptually we could continue to pass level 3 and keep removing cubes from successively more minute cubes – the resulting enigma is eloquently explained by the Institute:

‘Taken to its infinite conclusion the Sierpinski Carpet (And Menger Sponge) dissolves into a foam whose final structure has no area whatever yet possesses a perimeter that is infinitely long. Like the skeleton of a beast whose flesh has vanished, the concluding form is without substance – it occupies a planar surface, but no longer fills it.

And radically that:

‘Any geometry of loop quantum gravity can be embedded in a Menger Sponge’ and that ‘the structure of space-time may be allied with this foam-like form.’ Great!

As well as giving precise instructions for making your own Menger Sponge Dr Mosely explains the procedure for making the 3 Level Model using a divide and conquer strategy of sub assembly using component units called tripods!

Jeannine Mosely is a driving force behind a new movement of computational origami – you can view her personal documentation of this fascinating project here!


Margaret Wertheim’s Flickr set of the exhibit.

Mark Allen’s Sponge set of the IFF exhibit.

Murky’s drawings of the Menger Sponge, some Fractals and other Maths surfaces.

Friends of Folding’s business card origami, including an inverse sponge, no less!

Paul Friedlander – Oscillating Light Kinetics

paul friedlander.jpg
Timeless Universe – Freidlander

Imagine a physical sculptural version of a dynamical system in 3d space or a complex particle simulation, the kind that appears as a floating gas vapour. Using a technique called ‘chromastrobic light’ Paul Friedlander conjures spectacular light sculptures that are the ultimate incarnation of the late 60’s light-show aesthetic bought into the now. They also sit nicely in the lineage of waveform art – everything from early artist experiments with oscilloscopes – Laposky, Whitney, Bute et al to recent computational art concerning attractors, particles and Bezier acrobatics.

The work ‘Dark Matter’ appears as a 3 dimensional iridescent waveform, the result of chromastrobic light projected onto a rapidly spinning rope reflected off a Mylar mirror (flexible mirror surface). Because the rope spins at up to 600 rpm the human eye perceives a three dimensional multicoloured image. It doesn’t stop there – spectators can interact with the piece via two high frequency sound beams which alter the speed of the rope’s vibrations and the colour of the light.

Freidlander’s most recent installation, Timeless Universe concerns itself with the alternative cosmological ideas of English physicist Julian Barbour. 10 different kinetic pieces are arranged in groups illuminated by projections showing images from 3 different computers all generating real-time animations that modify, modulate and transform the chosen subject matter.

Its comes as no surprise that Friedlander was an acolyte of the original psychedelic light shows scene the first time round – he built his first light sculptures while a physics student at the University of Sussex before graduating in 1972.

Refractographs, Cellular Terrains and BacterioPoetics

Garden in a Petri dish – Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob

‘As above so below’ and ‘the great in the small’ – resemblance to architecture, the decorative arts, generative art and much much more. Pattern recognitionists can have their field-day!

Reciprocity’s beautiful stream of twisted light Refractographs allows us view the refraction patterns of light as it passes through glass and plastic. The nebulous galactic quality of these pictures fortifies this link between the micro and macroscopic.

Pruned’s ‘Garden in a Petri dish’ post from a while ago reveals ‘godless ecologies simmering with selfish codes and data silently contesting for survival — fractal, pointillist, and mercilessly lethal’. A great set of miniscule Eden’s are unearthed – illuminated pictures of aggregation patterns and fern-like threads. The seed? Socialfiction’s BacterioPoetics. ‘Are these patterns the result of simple physical processes, or do they represent self-organization and communication on many levels?’ Wilfried enquires. ‘More Gardens….reveals yet more wonderful algorithmic botany, and as Alexander puts it ‘self-organizing embroidery of organisms in constant Darwinian mode’. Lovely.

Other onward journeys towards the atom at Pruned include a glide over the surface of the Cellular Terrain and a close-up rendezvous with wood anatomy.

Flickr’s Microscopy pool is certainly worth a visit. Altamons contributions appear as whimsical hand crafted sketches or even textile designs, pre-occupied with the natural colour palette, of the 1960’s. Taka itaha’s Moss (Brachythecium), taken by pressing the camera to the ocular of a microscope, reveals a marvellous pattern of chloroplasts. Biologist, Leah Penn reveals to us a chromatic explosion with her Black stem rust of wheat photograph; again this image is very textile-like.

It’s now possible to experience Blake’s ‘World in a Grain of Sand’.

Future City

future City
Marine City – Kuyonori Kikutake

Currently on show at the Barbican art gallery in London is ‘Future City – Experiment and Utopia in Architecture 1956-2006′. This unmissable show features the full spectrum of leading architectural experimentalists including Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Lebbus Woods. The exhibition, layed out in chronological order, begins with ‘New Babylon’ – a rendezvous with Constant Nieuwenhuys, Guy Debord, psychogeography and surrealist mappings of the city. Continuing on our journey we come face to face with organic, oblique and inflatable cities, we encounter the mega-structures of the Metabolist’s and deconstructed spaces (Hadid and Woods). The work of Archigram, Archizoom and Superstudio, done in the 60’s, appears as an intermission from the serious stuff with its exuberance, fun and sci-fi appeal. The machine architecture of Neil Denari in the 80’s paved the way for computational methods that are in proliferation today – processes such as genetic modelling, morphogenetic studies, exotic computer algorithms to define new kinds of undulating, folded and wrapped space.

You can view my hastily took flickr set here. Cityofsound hits the nail on the head, describing the act of trying to obtain photographs of the show as akin to a game of PacMan.

One key impression I got from the exhibition was how much recent graphic art has been informed by the work of these architects and their futurist propositions. Compare the output of Designer’s Republic for early Warp and Schematic records disc cover art and the isometric paintings of Rem Koolhaas. I’m thinking of the continuity between Zaha Hadid’s paintings and the deconstructed implosions of 3d graffiti and computational wyldestyle now in prevalence. Then there’s the obvious overlap between the morphing meshes and wireframes of recent computational architecture and the landscape of VJ and Generative Art.

Although many of the projects deal specifically with radical solutions to the social problems and limitations of the city unfortunately very few of the projects have actually ever been realised, remaining to some extent as futurist and idealistic as the science fiction that so much influenced many of them in the first place. The exhibition catalogue aligns itself from the outset maintaining that this is primarily an architecture of speculation and conjecture.

To reach the Barbican you must negotiate the Brutalist maze of concrete ramps, alleyways, stairways and pathways that form the centre and pass its spectacularly tall angular towers Рa perfect backdrop and entr̩e to the show itself.