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DMS8013: Algorithms & Gererativity

Aims

  • To learn about the history of algorithms and generative computer code
  • To think about the ways that computers ‘model life’ or otherwise connect to the physical world
  • To experience creating generative systems

Algorithm: “a description of the method by which a task is to be accomplished,”

How do you perceive the meaning of an algorithm?

History in Computer Science (and previously in mathematics)

From writing about recipes in cooking and rituals to the Turing Machine (1936) to Dijkstra’s algorithm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_algorithms

In art/music/education Shintaro Miyazaki & Michael Chinen, Algorithmic Sorting

Formalism vs Action

The algorithm “is the unifying concept for all the activities which computer scientists engage in.” Provisionally a “de- scription of the method by which a task is to be accomplished,” the algorithm is thus the fundamental entity with which computer scientists operate.[…] But the algorithm is not simply the theoretical entity studied by computer scientists. Algorithms have a real existence embodied in the class libraries of programming languages, in the software used to render web pages in a browser (indeed, in the code used to render a browser itself on a screen), in the sorting of entries in a spreadsheet and so on.

Fuller, M. (2008). Software Studies: A Lexicon. Leonardo Books, MIT Press. p17

So (what I’ll call) the mode of material expression is vital, powerful etc.

A conception of the algorithm as a statement as Michel Foucault used the term might allow us to understand this approach a little better. For Foucault, the statement is not analytically reducible to the syntactic or semantic features of a language; it refers instead to its historical existence and the way that this historical existence accomplishes particular actions. […] As Foucault puts it in The Archaeology of Knowledge, “to speak is to do some- thing—something other than to express what one thinks, to translate what one knows, and something other than to play with the structure of language.

Fuller, M. (2008). Software Studies: A Lexicon. Leonardo Books, MIT Press. p17

Generativity: Modelling life?

In a sense, we can think of the field of cybernetics as an orientation.

Cybernetics: “Our bodies are hardware, our behavior software”

‘In a sense, the original purpose of Cybernetics was to produce a unified theory of the control levels and types of messages used by men and machines and processes in normal operation. Thus the history of computer technology may be interpreted as progress in making communication between men and machines more natural and complete. This remains an ideal definition, however, because quite often in industry human beings have been adapted to inhuman machine schedules, rather than the other way around. What is less realized is that most businesses of any size have had to adapt themselves, more or less traumatically, to radically different patterns of administration and organization as the result of information structures made possible by computer systems. So in part Software addresses itself to the personal and social sensibilities altered by this revolution.’

‘It is now empirically clear that Darwinian evolutionary theory contained a very great error in its identification of the unit of survival under natural selection. The unit which was believed to be crucial and around which the theory was set up was either the breeding individual or the family line or the subspecies or some similar homogeneous set of conspecifics. Now I suggest that the last 100 years have demonstrated empirically that if an organism or aggregate of organisms sets to work with a focus on its own survival and thinks that that is the way to select its adaptive moves, its “progress” ends up with a destroyed environment. […] The flexible environment must also be included along with the flexible organism because, as I have already said, the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. The unit of survival is a flexible organism-in-its-environment.’ Bateson, Gregory. “Form, substance, and difference.” Essential Readings in Biosemiotics (1970): 501. p508

Swarm Intelligence: Moving as a Hive

Simulating birds and bees in groups, forming them into intelligent systems. The groups are smarter when thinking together. Researchers have explored the collective behaviour of fish, bees, and ants and constructed algorithms to simulate them, constructing smart systems that could provide solutions to problems, forming swarm intelligence. Swarm intelligence is the collective behaviour of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial. The concept is employed in work on artificial intelligence.

 

These AI systems have even predicted Oscar nominations!

Generative Code

Meanwhile in computer science bleeding to art practice people became interested in algorithmic modelling, generative processes on both ontological and processual levels.

Such as Conway and the game of life.

‘These artistic systems are not wholly deterministic, running an image through pre-set parameters until it reaches perfection. Indeed, Latham realized early on that the most interesting outcomes of his program were quite unforeseen by him: his evolutionary program could arrive at unexpected conclusions. Even if an artist programs the computer from the start, there will always be an important element of mystery in the working of the software. Such quirks render the computer less mechanistic (and predictable) and more “artistic,” because the outcome of certain operations cannot always be foreseen. is unpredictability can be harnessed in the same way as the chemical reactions of pigments, or the densities of stone. In other words, an artist develops a feel for its working and gradually incorporates its idiosyncrasies into their work, which itself changes subtly or overtly to accommodate these properties.’ Lambert, Nicholas, William Latham, and Frederic Fol Leymarie. “The emergence and growth of evolutionary art: 1980–1993.” ACM SIGGRAPH 2013 Art Gallery. ACM, 2013.
http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2503656
‘For Lev Manovich, contemporary generative art is distinctively concerned with complexity, unlike the paradigm of reduction that characterised abstraction in the visual arts in the first half of the twentieth century.’

‘Software art systems are concrete collections of objects, relations, actions and processes. In part they are formal but constructed ontologies, describing entities and their interrelations. These ontologies are partly metaphorical or figurative—constructing for example «agents» in an «environment.» They are also partly technical / textual, in the sense that the implementation of these figures occurs within the structures of a formal language with particular representational and computational limits. How do we read such systems, critically? They are literally texts, in their source code, but also in a critical sense, in that they involve specific figurations, relations, decisions, values and ideologies.’ Whitelaw, Mitchell. “System stories and model worlds: A critical approach to generative art.” Readme 100 (2005): 135-154.

One example is Generative Composition Engine. The Generative Composition Engine is the culmination of a year-long project in an algorithmic artwork. The application generates unique compositions and plots supplied assets. The settings are derived by the user, compositional rules and a level of chaos to instantaneously create infinite artwork. Every composition has a focal point which affects the scaling of all items on the canvas and several ways of plotting coordinates.

 

Practical

Particle Systems:

Now to design a swarm we need first to create the smallest unit which is a single particle.
What are its characteristics? How do we want it to move?
We will, therefore, create a class that will hold all the information for this particle.
Create the class together…step by step.

Then we want this particle to act in some way. What do we want the particle to do? We add methods for its behaviour within the class.

Sketches here.

Look inside the particles class and decide how you’re going trigger or affect the sound. This should probably be some method (function) of the distance between nearby particles.

Challenges:

Create Langton’s Ant

 

Or a Turing Machine:

http://rosettacode.org/wiki/Universal_Turing_machine

Digital Media Project: A Moonish Installation

pdGem

Documentation of A Moonish Installation

Flashy Version (the version with ringing sound)


Creative Arts Practice for Digital Media Project 2014.

This interactive installation is controlled by Arduino and a USB camera, which captures the light status and ‘request’ the light by the way of ringing and changing colour of the rotatable flower randomly to attract participant’s attention if too much light is blocked on the top of the installation. It shows the opposite colour (i.e. white for the demand of dark and black is for the need of light source) in alternative light condition (dark / bright) that the installation can be captured, and impels the participant to response it as a part of the creation.

The code was programmed by Processing and Pure Data and outputted by two different visual forms through interaction. This installation was designed to invite participants to ponder the perception and interaction, immersion and embodiment, partial and the whole by digital arts throughout the interactive process.

—————————————————————————————————————-
Project Code:

Processing Part:

import ddf.minim.spi.*;
import ddf.minim.signals.*;
import ddf.minim.*;
import ddf.minim.analysis.*;
import ddf.minim.ugens.*;
import ddf.minim.effects.*;

import processing.serial.*; // import the Serial library
Serial myPort;

Minim minim;
AudioPlayer sou; // variable name

float sensorValue;
float angle = 0;
int x = -142;
int y = -112;
int smallPoint, largePoint;

PImage img;

PShape SVG01;
PShape SVG02;
PShape SVG03;
PShape SVG04;
PShape SVG05;
PShape SVG06;
//PShape SVG07;
PShape SVG08;
PShape SVG09;
PFont font; // showing the sensorValue

void setup() {

// font = loadFont(“Serif-24.vlw”);
size(1300, 800);

// println(Serial.list()); // print a list of available serial ports
/* better way to print this
for (int i=0;i<Serial.list().length;i++) {
println(“[“+i+”]”+Serial.list()[i]);
}
*/

myPort = new Serial(this, “COM7”, 9600);
myPort.clear(); // Empty the buffer, removes all the data stored there.
myPort.bufferUntil(‘\n’); // Throw out the first reading, in case we started reading
// in the middle of a string from the sender. (start buffer Until “\n” is read)
smooth();
SVG01= loadShape(“img1.svg”);
SVG02= loadShape(“img2.svg”);
SVG03= loadShape(“img3.svg”);
SVG04= loadShape(“img4.svg”);
SVG05= loadShape(“img5.svg”);
SVG06= loadShape(“img6.svg”);
// SVG07= loadShape(“img7.svg”);
SVG08= loadShape(“img8.svg”);
SVG09= loadShape(“img0.svg”);
SVG51= loadShape(“img51.svg”);
SVG61= loadShape(“img61.svg”);
SVG81= loadShape(“img81.svg”);
}
void draw() {
background(255);
fill(0);
//textFont(font, 24);
// text(“sensorValue= “, width*0.3, height/2);
// text(sensorValue, width*0.55, height/2);
pushMatrix(); // save the current coordinate system to the stack
// translate to the center of screen
translate(width/2, height/2);
// rotate everything when the frameCount adds up
rotate(frameCount*0.01);

// small flower
if (sensorValue>300 && sensorValue<=400) {
fill(0, 180);
SVG09.disableStyle();
shape(SVG09, x+10, y+10, sensorValue+15, sensorValue+15);
SVG01.disableStyle();
shape(SVG01, x+10, y+10, sensorValue+15, sensorValue+15);
}
// bigger flower
else if (sensorValue>400 && sensorValue<=500) {
fill(0, 180);
SVG03.disableStyle();
shape(SVG03, x-20, y-20, sensorValue+20, sensorValue+20);
SVG04.disableStyle();
shape(SVG04, x-30, y-30, sensorValue+25, sensorValue+25);
}
// random colour
else if (sensorValue>500 && sensorValue<=700) {
//Audio is triggered
minim = new Minim(this);
sou = minim.loadFile(“ESA_installation.wav”);
sou.play();
fill(random(0, 100), random(0, 100), random(0, 100), 80);
SVG05.disableStyle();
shape(SVG51, x-60, y-60, sensorValue+60, sensorValue+60);
fill(random(100, 200), random(100, 200), random(100, 200), 150);
SVG06.disableStyle();
shape(SVG61, x-50, y-50, sensorValue+35, sensorValue+35);
fill(random(200, 255), random(200, 255), random(200, 255), 50);
SVG08.disableStyle();
shape(SVG81, x-60, y-60, sensorValue+40, sensorValue+40);
}

// else if (sensorValue>700 && sensorValue<=800) {
// fill(random(0, 100), random(0, 100), random(0, 100), 100);
// }
else {
fill(255, 150);
SVG08.disableStyle();
shape(SVG08, x+30, y+30, sensorValue+300, sensorValue+300);
}

popMatrix(); // restores the prior coordinate system
}

void serialEvent (Serial myPort) { // SerialEvent is called when data is available.
// get the ASCII string:
String inString = myPort.readStringUntil(‘\n’);
if (inString != null) { // only does the following when there is something
// convert to a float
sensorValue = float(inString);
}
}

Arduino Part:
void setup(){

Serial.begin(9600);
}
void loop(){

//Serial.println(sens);
Serial.println(analogRead(0));
delay(500);
}

Pure Data Part:

Digital Media Project: Original Inspiration

The inspiration of this project stems from the concept of human-environment interaction. It is the experiment that converts human’s perception of light to embodied visual experience in two different ways, which invites participants to experience the mutual relationship between human and the environment. Meanwhile, this project is also conceived in terms of exploring human perception through mirror image to rethink immersion and embodiment, observation and interaction, partial and the whole through the form of digital art.

Human Environmental Interactions can be defined as interactions between the human social system and (the “rest” of) the ecosystem. Human social systems and ecosystems are complex adaptive systems (Marten, 2001). 

Although digital media in the context of exploring human experience by technology, it could be a different way to establish a new perception through the interaction of human and environment based on the possibility by using digital technology. It has broader forms of exploring environmental needs instead of users’ needs in this field to address the issue, such as energy conservation (e.g. lighting, temperature and electronic energy etc.) in a space.

Reference
Lill, A and Gräber, S. (2006). Human Environmental Interactions.  [Accessed 14 May, 2014]

Digital Media Project: References

20140514140313

Reference of Image:
I referenced Tibet Arts in terms of making the flower’s shape. This inspiration was risen when I discussed with Ping about this project in the end of March, and the part of the purpose of using flower was to try to get the connection between daily object with abstract art form and technology. The art forms of abstract geometry in Tibet Arts have a variety of forms, which could be found as the relatively ideal references from them.

The designed flower’s shape (made by Illustrator):
Progress:

Reference of effect:
The effect of flower – rotation, was referenced by Time Flower V.1 (Li 2014). When no participant interacts with the installation or the installation is in the constant light environment, it shows the rotation.


This clock that visualizes the shape of flower according to the calibration of each second, rather than showing a conventional clock form.

Reference of two visual experience:
For the improved inspiration of digital media project, using two visual experience by hand motion was considered in terms of trying to establish a wider relationship between participants, the installation and the environment. It invites participant to experience two different version according to variable light status that the installation captures, meanwhile participants are able to see the interference and real-time changeable colour through one of the screen.

Eduardo Kac, Genesis, 1999.

It is and transgenic net installation, which involves in exploring the relationships between biology and information technology. The artist focused on real-time information translation of the Book of Genesis by DNA base pairs of biological mutations of bacteria. Participants could turn on an ultraviolet light remotely to  disrupt the DNA sequence of bacteria, and two visual images (active bacteria and the large-scale text) can be observed on two screens  at the same time.

Reference
Wands, B. (2006). Art of the digital age. New York: Thames & Hudson.
Kac, E. (1999). Available at: http://www.ekac.org/geninfo.html [Accessed 15 May, 2014].

Digital Media Project: Process of making an installation

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 15.18.49

Each piece of installation box was designed based on the status of the virtual flower’s variation – zoom in and out. The original one was cancelled due to the consideration of crack after cutting.

The shape of top side:
The improved shape was designed by several smaller shapes to avoid the risk.

The shape of 4 sides:
This shape was also based on the character of the zoom in and out effect.

Before making the model, each image needed to be adjusted for the appropriate size according to thickness of material (4mm thickness of the perspex material). During this process, Ping taught me how to make the image by Illustrator and give the induction of using laser cutter in order step by step! very supportive! 

Making an interactive box. (Hurray, appropriate size to put arduino board and camera in, except the wrong size of the bottom piece!)
  
Testing the size:

Trial (Cracked):

Gluing the fundation:

Installing:

Done!

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