Archives for the Month of September, 2009

Flickr Fruits #30

Flickr Fruits #30
Fragment – Jonas Loh

Wertarbeit’s Flickr stream collates screen grabs of Jonas Loh’s & Steffen Fiedler’s bachelor thesis ‘IDENTITÄT – The Gestalt of digital identity’ which examines ways in which digital identities can be generated from personal datasets. Scape uses a 2-dimensional particle system which is then extruded to create a personal data landscape. Fragment takes the form of a typical network schema creating delicate non-uniform lattices representing online behaviours of specific individuals.

Miska has produced a large set of slit-scan works documenting journeys via plane and train, as well as temporal journeys through time while the position of her camera remains fixed. The spatio-temporal image of a flight from Helsinki to Paris not only reveals cloud levels and densities during the journey but also alludes to ice particle patterns forming on the surface of a plane window while it is in flight. The slit-scan visualisation of a river boat trip along banks the River Seine show Paris to be the results of a spectral analysis where the horizontal maxima represent the brightness of street lights. Another Flickr set reveals a wind movement visualisation or wind-drawing – a process whereby a wind data-trace is converted into a sculptural form using a CNC milling machine.

Vague Terrain 14: Biomorph

Vague Terrain 14: Biomorph
Hexadron – Michael Hansmeyer

Back in early 2009 Greg Smith dropped Dataisnature a line with an invitation to curate an issue of Vague Terrain – the web journal of digital arts he launched in collaboration with Neil Wiernik back in fall 2005. Being a long time fan of both Vague Terrain and Greg’s personal online writing project Serial Consign, I leapt at the chance and decided to work with a topic dear to the heart of dataisnature. One of the central themes over the past 5 years of this weblog is the use of code by artists to create biological simulations, algorithmic botany and computational ecosystems. Drawing on some of my favourite artists working within this paradigm, and featured on this blog, the idea of VT:14 Biomorph came into being. 10 Artists/writers/architects were invited to submit work.

Some keywords and ideas to reflect upon were: Morphogenesis, Algorithmic Botany, Emergence, Genetic Algorithms, Cellular Automata, L-systems, Bacterial Aesthetics, Biomineralisation, Autogenesis, Self-generation; Cellular Division, Cosmobiotechnics, Biomimicry and DNA sequences.

VT14 showcases the work of Kat Masback, Daniel Widrig, Biothing, Robert Hodgin, Emma McNally, Jon McCabe, Michael Hansmeyer, Wilfred Hou Je Bek, David Lu and Marc Fornes. You will find Cosmobiotechnic drawings and biochemical schemas, form-finding, algorithmic and emergent architecture, work inspired by Alan Turing and Ernst Haeckle, and a conjectural piece of Bacteriopoetics to boot.

Vague Terrain 14: Biomorph can be viewed here.

The Emergent Virtues of Slime Molds


Oscillating between being a single creature and a democratic swarm the lowly but incredible slime mold can self-organize itself into a multitude of ultra-aesthetic globular geometries.

Myxomycetes Flickr set explores the non-linear dynamics of these gooey heterotrophs, revealing molecular chain formations, jellyfied glyphs, and protean branching structures. The latter mold has an impressive claim to fame. Physarum Polycephalum, also known as ‘the many headed slime’ can navigate a maze to find its own food.

‘Slime molds are really groups of tiny amoeba which are normally sliding around the forest floor individually. Occasionally they will coalesce into a larger blob. There is no central commander telling the individual cells when to come together or disperse. Like ants, they use pheromone trails. The individual cells release pheromones based on their assessment of the conditions. Using a type of chemical democracy, when the pheromone trail gets intense enough the slime mold cells pile together to form a larger being.’

Click here to read more about how the slime mold can solve a maze.

Recently Physarum Polycephalum also courted some fame in the robotics world by being able to ‘control’ a simple six-legged robot. Sensing the slime’s chemical reaction to light the ‘slimebot’ crawled away from light sources, becoming a ‘mechanical embodiment’ of the mould’s intentions.