Further Concept Designs

As previously stated, I wanted a different design for my Mover objects, to make thme more visually interesting. Although there are a few ways I could do this, for example I could use the Perlin Noise research I did earlier to make the circles in my sketch “breathe”, I want to explore some more complex shapes. To provide a basis for these shapes I decided to look into some more theoretical concepts.

One of the ideas I was most interested in in my earlier sketches of visual designs was using a seed as a DNA carrier a metaphor for mobile packet data. Although I like this idea, seeds and plants can be quite static objects so I would like to explore some other concepts. The basis of understanding in the audience of this idea relies on the understanding of the audience of the conceptual metaphor as described by Jandausch (2012) as the “cognitive mapping of a source domain onto a target domain”. This is done to draw parallels between experiences in order to explain the target domain. Thinking further from my above example, the experiences and parallels between the target and source domain is quite weak. The notion of a seed is not strictly necessary to the metaphor as is it the concept of DNA which is making the parallel between packet data. As DNA is present in all living things, Many other creatures could be used to convey this concept.

Image by Sims (1994). “Evolution”-generated computer creatures selected for their fitness to walk from the need to walk

One way the concept of DNA is used in programming is in evolutionary algorithms, that is where procedural programming is used to create the creatures themselves. I found an interesting use of this in the work for SIGGRAPH by Sims (1994), where a number of creatures were generated from a computer model of evolution. Computer creatures were generated that made up of body and limb blocks that worked like nodes. Different combinations and lengths of these blocks added to the variation of the creatures. These creatures were then selected for their ability to move through both digital land and water. In turn, the ones that could most easily walk swim and jump were able to combine with other successful creatures in order to create a faster organism. I found this experiment fascinating and could see thematic parallels the evolution of virtual creatures and the rapid evolution of computing technology. However actually implementing a system like this to generate creatures is far beyond my current skillset in Processing and I doubt that I would have enough time until the end of the project to learn the skills needed.

Image by Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, 1873.

Another way of thinking of packet data is by the message that it is meant to convey. Historically a creature that was used to convey messages was the carrier pigeon. As Blechman (2007) notes in his book on pigeons, they have played a very important part in the history of communication. As pigeons have a strong homing instinct, they have been used to carry messages over great distances for millennia. Their most famous use was during times of war, when they were used to convey messages from the battlefield. Co-incidentally the adevent of modern computers is based on the cryptography deciphering machines of the Second World War (Computer History Museum, 2014).Though they are rarely used for this purpose in the modern age, pigeons are still a ubiquitous part of our urban landscape.

Bird Sketches2

Rough concept sketches. Here pigeons fly around the audience members.

In my Processing sketches I could use the metaphor of the carrier pigeon to provide an allegory for the process of information exchange protocols that our mobile devices use. I could create a pigeon-like object as the Mover objects in my earlier sketch. Although quite abstract, hopefully the metaphor is somewhat relate-able to the audience. However if it is not it is not a major problem, as was theorized earlier conveying information is not the main goal of the piece, but the enjoyment of the audience and the aesthetic outcome is.

Jandausch, A., 2012. Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Conceptualisation of Music. 5th International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology. 24-26 May 2012. Montreal: OICRM.

Sims, K., 1994. Evolving Virtual Creatures. In: Computer Graphics: Annual Conference Series (SIGGRAPH ‘94 Proceedings), 24 -29 July 1994, Orlando: ACM Press, 15-22.

Blechman., A. 2007. Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the Worlds’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird Queensland: Queensland Press.

Computer History Museum. 2014. Breaking the Code Available from: http://www.computerhistory.org/revolution/birth-of-the-computer/4/82. [Accessed: 17.12.2014]