Archives for the Month of June, 2012

Drop City – Colonizing Consciousness with Truncated Dodecahedra

DropCity_Truncated_Icosorhombic_DodecahedraTruncated Icosorhombic Dodecahedra – Drop City

The historical connection between late 1960’s counter-culture communes and the sublime geometry of polyhedral tessellations and geodesic domes is not one that is commonly referenced. In 1969 Drop City, the most celebrated of frontier mystic and counter-culture art communes, won the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Award for contribution to geodesic culture. The Drop City domes were essentially mutations of geodesic form due to being hand-built by trial and error. Perhaps their construction was guided by telepathic communiques from the tessellating lysergic master builders. The Drop City architects saw Fuller as a guru, espousing his humanist attitude, embracing his idiosyncratic syntax, and incorporating his axiomatic doctrines as mantras for a way of synergetic expression. According to Fuller ‘a designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist’.

DropCity_UltimatePaintingThe Ultimate Painting – Drop City

Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College – Nancy Newhall circa 1948Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain College – Nancy Newhall circa 1948

The faded photographs of the iconic dome settlement are often conspicuous by their absence of people creating a sense of anachronism – there’s a feeling of space-aged utopianism blended with drop-out anarchism. Sawn-off car roof-tops were used as triangular panels to build the polyhedral dwellings which included ‘Triacontahedral’ and ‘Zonohedral’ structures. One of the most ambitious and largest buildings constructed was a Truncated Icosorhombic Dodecahedra complex. This was a ‘structure made of three 40-foot fused Rhombicosidodecahedra, which housed a community kitchen, a large meeting and entertainment area, a film workshop, a television loft, 2 bathrooms and shower, a laundry room, and a visitor’s area.’

from_the-exhibit_Buckminster-Fuller_Starting_with_the_UniverseBuckminster Fuller – Starting with the Universe

The complex also had its own Theatre Dome, also made of car roof tops, and designed to accommodate a 360° multi-media projection system most likely inspired by the Moviedrome theatres of Stan Vanderbeek of around the same time.

Drop City takes it name from Drop Art (also knows as “art droppings”) – performance artworks informed by the ‘happenings’ instigated by Allan Kaprow in the late 50’s and early 60’s and also inspired by the performances of John Cage at Black Mountain College around the same time.

Geodesic_Dome_Fuller_1952Geodesic Dome – Buckminster Fuller [1952]

The commune was recently celebrated in ‘West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver – a Flickr set of photographs documenting the show can be found here. The companion book to the show includes numerous essays ‘elaboratating on the historical and artistic significance of the counterculture projects of the period within the broader narrative of postwar American art’

Related Posts:

Geo Mutant’s [Buckyball lifeforms]
Bruce Pollock – A Scroll Through the Alluvial Cellular Terrain
Spacelike Tessellations of Tetrahedrons
Cosmic Hierarchy and Radiant Protons

Idrioema – Fossilized Morphologies & Ghost Architectures

Aequa – Idiorema

Idrioema is a multimedia project instigated by Luigi Scotti & Teresa Aguas encompassing separate audio and video works and also pieces that explore cross-modal relationships between sound and image.

A recent work, Aequa, reveals a shifting landscape of reaction diffused artifacts – ghostly layers of emergent biological textures evolving alongside field recordings [street cleaning, water, stones, garbage bins, cars, pumps and alarms]. Familiar sonic environments of banal origin are recontextualised into a mesoscaphic soundtrack for a kind of evolving fossil/bone architecture.

Another series of works, Sonoscopia [found in works – images], reveals a series of sonographic renderings, spliced and cut, and reordered into striated xerox-like diagrams. The drawings invite us to imagine the clicks, cuts, static and sonic abrasions that might coaxed them in to existence.

Working exclusively in B&W the couple have explored the sonification of dynamical systems, cross-transcoding of file-formats as well as many other data transposition techniques to generate their works.

Flickr Fruits #38: Stella Trails, Neocubes, Manifolds & Magnetotypes

STB/S01/120° - Peter JellitschSTB/S01/120° – Peter Jellitsch

Nasa’s International Space Station Star Trails set uses a long exposure technique to reveal the motion of stars as concentric Tron-like light beams punctuated by green glowing auroras [The Northern Lights]. Astronaut Don Petit, currently orbiting the planet as part of the long-duration Expedition 30 Mission, stacked together layers of 30 second long exposures to create 15-20 minute long stellar trails.

Ling Meng’s Magnetism set contains typographic experiments and ‘drawings’ composed of magnetised iron filings. Close inspection of the spatially arranged filings reveal nested levels of organisation – with larger global structures containing fur-like magneto-micro patterns

Peter Jellitsch’s STB set contains hand drawn topologies, manifolds and attractor-like configurations made with pencil and ink. Using virtual simulations of space as a model, he retraces algorithmic constructs, often adding tiny arrows to his drawings, as if to encourage the notion of surface vector flow and fluid dynamics.

Dimitry Tischenko’s Neodynium Magnet set contains a vast array of geometric constructions made from tiny Neodynium magnets – most notably complex polyhedral structures, Bucky Balls and Neocubes.

Spreading Time Chromatographically – The Painted Hills of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Painted_Hills_Bernhard_EdmaierPainted Hills – Bernhard Edmaier

The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon is known for its layers of fossil plants and mammals that lived in the region during the Eocene and Miocene era – 44 million years ago. Part of the area is covered by a chromatographic landscape known as the Painted Hills.

Combined layers of volcanic materials, red fossil beds, grey shale and darkened dead vegetable matter are eroded and diffused by wind weathering and reconfigured it into well-defined chromatographic patterns. The hills appear as if the earthwork artists Christo and Jeanne Claude might have draped the landscape in Tie-dyed cotton, in subtle colours, instead of plain polypropylene.

Painted_Hills_Marc_ShandroPainted Hills – Marc Shandro

The patterns can be interpreted as terrestrial depositional sequences of materials originally existing over the vast swathes of time recombined into the present. In much the same way Chromatography separates constituents of mixtures through their movements at different speeds through a mediating substance, the Painted Hills spatio-temporally organise themselves into striate and plume patterns, resulting in a natural earthwork visualisation of ancient fossil eras, fragmented.

Pfeiffer_chromatographyPfeiffer Chromatography Pattern

A Flickr gallery of photographs of the Painted Hills can be found here.

Mind Expanders – Haus-Rucker-Co

mindExpander_Haus-Rucker-Co_1967Mind Expander – Haus-Rucker-Co 1967

Mind Expanders I and II, made in the late 60’s, by architectural group Haus-Rucker-Co are a couple of performative-architectural sculptures allowing two enclosed bodies to entwine within them – facilitating a conjoined altered state of psychedelic comm(union). The first Mind Expander uses the group’s trademark inflatable clear plastic material in which a cybernetic fly-head balloon appears decorated with layers of reflective materials in geometric patterns.

mindExpander_Haus-Rucker-Co_1969Mind Expander II – Haus-Rucker-Co 1969

Like other works by the group, such as Environment-Transformer, these enclosures create a space for intimate introspection and hyper-awareness via sensory deprivation. It’s also a simple metaphor for the removal of oneself from consensual reality. Liberated from external distractions the user journeys inwards to generate personalised sensory impressions of their own. Taking the inflatable enclosure one step further – Haus-Rucker-Co proposed to populate the future with nomadic bubble-like houses, called Pneumacosms.

Work Gallery, London, will open an exhibition of the groups works from June through to September this year. They had this to say:

‘Haus-Rucker-Co.’s designs for inflatable structures, prosthetic devices and interventions into public spaces were also blueprints for social change and an experiential theory of architecture. Situating itself in the transitional ground between architecture, design and action art, the group was unique in its distinctive emphasis on the perceptual realm.’

Nils Barricelli’s 5 Kilobyte Symbiogenesis simulations and ‘molecule shaped numbers’ – A precursor to DNA Computing

Processing simulation of  Nils Barracelli's Numerical Symbiorganism systems – Alex Galoway Processing simulation of Nils Barracelli’s Numerical Symbiorganism systems – Alex Galoway

‘We have created a class of numbers which are able to reproduce and undergo hereditary changes’ – Nils Barricelli. [circa 1952]

Described as balancing a thin line between truly original and a crank (an ultimate accolade) Nils Barricelli can claim rights to being a pioneer of computational biology and evolutionary algorithms – if not its originator. In the early 50’s he utilised the Institute of Advanced Study’s computer (one of the very first electronic computers) developed by John Von Neumann and his team for Hydrogen bomb simulations in Princeton, New Jersey. On night shifts Barricelli ran programs that mapped the foundations self-reproducing entities simulated entirely by numbers.

Barricelli’s computations were carried out to substantiate his alternative theories of evolution – one that argued for gene swapping in organisms or Symbiogenesis (the idea that complex organisms evolved from the symbiosis of simpler ones). A cycle of 512 generations of self-reproducing algorithmic organisms evolved in a numerical universe of 5 kilobytes. Representing genes as on/off states in pixels – his organisms appeared as self-organized textural patterns contained within autonomous shapes. He noted biophenomenon such as parasitic infiltration, natural disasters and stagnations. Barricelli’s algorithms were clearly the distant ancestors of Cellular Automata and well-known artificial-life simulations such as Conway’s Game of Life. In his most recent book ‘Turing’s Cathedral’ George Dyson hints that some of Barracelli’s work may well have been sublimated into Von Neumann’s posthumously published Theories of self-replicating Automata [PDF].

Output Card from Nils Barracelli's Numerical Symbiorganism programsOutput Card from Nils Barracelli’s Numerical Symbiorganism programs

As noted by Dyson there is some irony in the fact that the first computer in the human universe was by night seeding the first species of the digital Universe while at day it was solving problems of the most efficient way to destroy human life.

Alex Galloway has written an excellent essay for Cabinet magazine exploring the work of Barricelli which includes an in-depth appraisal of Barricelli’s strategies used in his bionumeric evolutionary systems. Even better, Alex has re-staged those original early 50’s experiments in Processing adding colour to the cellular values to increase clarity and enhance the visibility of individual organisms within this computational Universe.

Alex’s essay mentions a later paper by Barricelli, ‘ Numerical Testing of Evolution Theories’, in which a ‘chemo-analogical computer’ is proposed using DNA molecules, or ‘molecule shaped numbers’. Base-pair interactions of DNA nucleotides would be used to interpret commands, compute and run algorithms in their native wetware environments and then output to a more standard hardware environment.

IASMachineThe IAS Machine, circa 1952, Princeton, New Jersey

Now that lateral gene transfer has become more accepted, the theory of symbiogenetic organisms seem much less far-fetched – Barricelli was anything but a crank. His final (and intriguingly titled) paper ‘Suggestions for the Sharing of Numerical Evolutionary Processes intended to Evolve Symbiorganisms Capable of Developing a Language & Technology of their own’ was published in 1987.

Selected Tweets #14 [July-Aug 2011]

Lattice-Receptacles - Yoichiro-KameiLattice-Receptacles – Yoichiro-Kamei

Selected tweets from my Twitter stream: @MrPrudence

Lattice Receptacles – Yoichiro Kamei. Grid system lattices constructed in Ceramic.

‘Electronics In The World Of Tomorrow’ (1964) – Erkki Kurenniemi. Acousmatic/noise cut-up circuit-board meditation at Ubuweb.

The Automatypewriter is a ‘self-reflexive’ & self-typing interface for interactive fiction games.

Miragemachine is well executed sonically active Flash toy of the ribbon/mouse trailer species.

Stadsmuziek – Akko Goldenbeld. 3D map schematic used as piano roll to generate an atonal composition.

Formations – Syntfrarm. Emergent cloud patterns generated from data satellite imagery made with Processing.

Alluvial Fan, Iran - Pathological GeomorphologyAlluvial Fan, Iran – Pathological Geomorphology

Accretions of arable farming fields around an Alluvian Fan in Iran featured at Pathological Geomorphology.

Hippocampus 1 – Daniel Canogar. Illuminated discarded telephone cables evoke neural synapse firings.

Metropolis II – Chris Burden. Large scale kinetic artwork with 1110 tiny cars.

Buran Suprematism at Kosmograd. Multi-dimensional spatial forms by switching 3d Spacecraft objects to bounding-boxes.

Black Mirror – Robert Seidel’s Gossamer mirrored projection sculptures.