Prince of San Francisco
A massive interactive installation comprising 200 lit balloons.
Video for Patio
A short video for the Architecture School
2010 - ongoing
video for Solar
VJing for Chicas Japonesas
2008 - ongoing
video mapping performance
an interactive installation
a visual, audio-reactive piece
a live cinema visual instrument
Live Cinema for La Saga
a visual performance
an augmented reality musical instrument
2009 and ongoing
This work, under development (it has earned a grant from Telefonica’s Vida 12.0), consists in an interactive installation, and like with the other pieces, it also involves its posterior analysis. The installation consists on a table (2 meters by 1.5 meters), in which there will be installed metallic “strands of grass”, of 20 cm. height, in a grid layout of 10 cm.
Although the grass is a live organism, being a plant without woody organs, the only movement that is easy to perceive is produced by the wind. There, the vital characteristic of the grass is evidenced by its reaction to an external stimulus: the wind. To recreate this, each strand will be able to fold autonomously, and the table will move the various strands in a coordinated way (so far, we are using a coherent noise signal: Perlin noise), creating an effect perceptually similar and easily recognizable. The threads can then show their one vital characteristic, reacting to a “virtual wind” that sways them with a flow of data.
In each corner of the table there will be an artificial flower (a sunflower) with a microphone, and the sound picked by them will generate the first type of “virtual wind”, allowing viewers to interact with the installation by generating sound, and providing the natural environment from which the vital behavior emerge.
But the piece is also proposed in a purely contemplative, non-interactive way, explicitly leaving aside any playful aspect and becoming a powerful tool for reflection. To achieve that, the grass will also obey other “virtual winds” produced by the data sources easily accessible on the Internet. These data sources are to be used in opposing pairs, one generating “wind” in the general direction of the axis of the table and another to do so in the minor axis. This will allow contrasting different sources, for example, one can be the stock market value and the other the evolution of the poverty level in different countries.
The piece will have a computer monitor on one side, where viewers will be able to see which “winds” are active along with their numerical values.
Materials and specifications
The purpose-built table will allow a computer responsible for controlling the threads and collecting and manipulating the data sources. The communication between the strands and the computer is handled by Arduino boards, and the communication relies on the I2C protocol.
We are programming using OpenFrameworks , a development environment for C++, along with Arduino’s language and compiler.
Construction of the strands
The strands of grass will be created with three wires made of metal with thermal memory effect, popularly known as “muscle wires”. Muscle wires, when heated, deform in a predetermined way, returning again (if the deformation does not exceed a certain threshold) to its original shape when cold.
Because this material is resistive, when subjected to an electric current heats up, and so it can be deformed at will by regulating the current intensity.
Each strand will have a flexible spine and three wires to operate as tensors. In this way it is possible to control the twist of the set (direction and inclination).
Works on artificial life often tries to emulate or recreate life processes, focusing on behavioral or developmental issues. There is, however, the possibility of focusing the work on the relationship of a particular living entity and its environment.
To study this relationship, bidirectional, complex and extremely rich, allows relocating the organism in a wider context, focusing on the interrelationship between the various organisms, necessary for life.
The grass –an organism that grew massive in the Cretaceous period and is now the dominant vegetation in many habitats (such as the steppes)– is known by everyone. However, being a plant, its unique behavioral expression that is easily perceptible is completely passive: it is swinged by the wind.
The installation recreates this “emergent passive behavior” subverting it: the grass becomes active and creates a nonexistent wind. The organism appropriates its reaction and actively emulates it.
This relationship is questioned again with the installation in interactive mode: the public can create the wind and the installation reacts to it. But it’s a mediated wind, an interpreted one, adapted by the artificial organism to emulate the only reaction it knows.
On the other hand, linking the system with a data flow eminently human –whether by the public or the information gathered on the Internet– allows to change the relationship between the grass and its environment: the modifying agent does not arise from the natural interaction but, thanks to the recontextualization of the emulated process, is showing its artificial feature and, at the same time, links it with the public and the context (economic, social, political) that allows the work to exist.
Finally, the name of the installation, Hierba, refers to plants that are valuable for some feature (culinary, medicinal or spiritual). Reopening the eternal question of what features we want, need, to emulate in artificial life? And what is something valuable in an artistic or scientific context?
here is a little demo of the behavior, please see it at 240p: