[-empyre-] Relations

Maria wrote
I would like to know from you, how do you experience the difference
when presenting your work with and without the interactivity?
I have the impression from what I see on your website that some of your
works have a static output in the form of high resolution prints and
a dynamic real time version with user interaction.
How do you choose what to present in a certain context? What is the
difference in reaction from the audience to the different media.
Best, Maria

thank you for this interesting question, Maria.

Yes, you are right, there are two different media I use to present these works. I produced a collection of about 500 very high resolution (up to 50000x12000 pixels) images named "Artificial Societies" which I normally present as quality prints or marble engraving. Than, Piero Pierucci and me have realized two audiovisual interactive installations inspired to similar growing process that are "Relazioni Emergenti" and "Interactive Life".

The difference is quite important, especially in people reactions. Let me tell you a little story about it. The first image I presented in a wide context, was in Siggraph '99 in Los Angeles where I presented "Chaos Revenge" ( www.plancton.com/artsoc/chaosr.gif ) . The image was generally very appreciated (used also for the front cover of the Siggraph art gallery catalogue and than exposed in several exhibitions in USA).
The lines of this image are so smooth and unforeseen that it seems traced by a hand made by a human mind (provocatively I used a typical ivory paper for drawings to print it). For this reasons many people show the same sequence of comment without any explanation by me. At the beginning they ask why this image should be exposed in the Siggraph "digital domain". After a while, people understand that it is really difficult for a human mind trace this incredible level of complexity. So they realize that the image is generated by a computer program. Again it is not usual for a common algorithm show a contemporary presence of smooth regularities and suddently changes of behaviour. "It seems that each filament has a free possibility to decide its short future". At the end, although for many people was difficult express this behaviour in terms of "artificial life" (too specialist concept), their interpretations were very close to the real algorithm I implemented.
In few word, the idea is that the behaviour and graphical pattern emerged in that images are self-explicating of evolutionary and complexity concepts. In some sense they are able to "show the evolution in one shot" compressing the timeline end fuse the time effects with spatial effects. This induces in the visitor a deductive process from experience of the complexity to a personal interpretation of the complexity.

In the interactive installation the result is very different. Typically after a short time, people are able to understand that a group of filaments start to play, live and reproduce when you approach they with your hand. At that point there is a sort of emotional "transfer" of the visitor in some single filament or lineage. The visitor emotionally follows the line development trying to sustain its presence in the filament society. Other people just look the evolving picture as a movie of the "genesi". Finally other people try to interact with the whole society following own aesthetical sense to drive a composition. Typically this is successfully if you are able to "cooperate" with the evolution events (observe-follow-create) and it is frustrating if you try to "impose" your idea to the society.
In this case the accent is on the development process. When you follow the formation of the entire image you are quite able to understand its complexity and to correlate the spatio-temporal effects because you experienced the whole evolutionary dynamics and self-organization mechanism.
This is a bottom up approach: you experience the fragments of dynamics and organization and at the end you reconstruct an idea of the complexity. In a word you are discovering the emergence of "relations". Understanding of relations seem to be the key of the final complexity.

I would start from here to give a comment to Mitchell about the difference/similarity between alife.art and data.art.

I've been puzzling over this... I think that (in current practice
anyway) a-life/generative and data.art represent complementary
approaches to thinking complexity. Data.art has an empirical bent,
filtering and manipulating data from outside systems. A-life/generative
processes seem to be fundamentally synthetic. They might have similar
outcomes, in terms of evoking some kind of intuition of real complex
systems, but one works from the outside in, seeking the system in the
data, while the other works from the inside out (or bottom up),
building a system and observing its behaviour.

I think also in this comment the key concept is "complexity as relations". The relations between the components seem have more importance of the components itself. In this sense the focus of alife.art and data.art is the same: focussing relations. In the case of alife.art you experience relations during their "formation" in a bottom-up inductive dynamic process. In the case of data.art you experience relations through a top-bottom deductive process.


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