Tuesday, May 31, 2011
A form for optimization is created by a spring-particle system, with gravity forces, damping, attraction and particles' mass integrated within the system. The structure is based on inverted gravity principle to derive the final form. Fitness objective is that certain points in space - which represent light sensors placed in physical environment, that are constantly taking measurements of light levels - are reached by corresponding points attached to the structure. Required form is achieved by adjusting mass of each particle and rest length of each set of springs. These parameters are in turn encoded in form's genotype. Changeable light levels corresponding with points are reflected in weights attached to fitness function. The fitness function is evaluated once the whole spring system gains stability, as it acts dynamically in time. In optimization process two various dynamic aspects play an important role in finding satisfying solution - physical movement of the structure and constantly changing fitness function.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
"Ethno-mathematician" Ron Eglash is the author of African Fractals, a book that examines the fractal patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa. By looking at aerial-view photos -- and then following up with detailed research on the ground -- Eglash discovered that many African villages are purposely laid out to form perfect fractals, with self-similar shapes repeated in the rooms of the house, and the house itself, and the clusters of houses in the village, in mathematically predictable patterns.
As he puts it: "When Europeans first came to Africa, they considered the architecture very disorganized and thus primitive. It never occurred to them that the Africans might have been using a form of mathematics that they hadn't even discovered yet."
His other areas of study are equally fascinating, including research into African and Native American cybernetics, teaching kids math through culturally specific design tools (such as the Virtual Breakdancer applet, which explores rotation and sine functions), and race and ethnicity issues in science and technology. Eglash teaches in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and he recently co-edited the book Appropriating Technology, about how we reinvent consumer tech for our own uses.
"Next time you bump into one of those idiots who starts asking you questions like, 'where is the African Mozart, or where is the African Brunel?' -- implying that Africans do not think -- send them a copy of Ron Eglash’s study of fractals in African architecture and watch their heads explode."
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Brief introduction to the theme Crystal & Flame
As the twilight of the first decade of the new millennium fades and is followed by the emerging dawn of the second, the themes, values and observations identified by the writer Italo Calvino in 1985 as Six Memos for the Next Millennium (posthumously published in 1988, Harvard University Press), continue to offer us insightful guidance and inspiration. The Crystal & Flame is one of these cross-disciplinary, paradoxical and metaphorical themes. It offers a richly diverse history and new inspiring perspectives for the imagination, poetically evoked in the intermingling and catalytic Inhibition & Excitation of synaptic firing process-patterns that allows for thought and reflection on and through our embodied consciousness. An intrinsic fundamental theme deeply embedded in the reciprocal relationship within the ubiquitous paradox of constrained and yet versatile freedom.
In the memo on Exactitude, Calvino offers us the following:
The crystal, with its precise faceting and its ability to refract light, is the model of perfection that I have always cherished as an emblem, and this predilection has become even more meaningful since we have learned that certain properties of the birth and growth of crystals resemble those of the most rudimentary biological creatures, forming a kind of bridge between the mineral world and living matter.
Among the scientific books into which I poke my nose in search of stimulus for the imagination, I recently happened to read that the models for the process of formation of living beings "are best visualized by the crystal on one side (invariance of specific structures) and the flame on the other (constancy of external forms in spite of relentless internal agitation)."
What interests me here is the juxtaposition of these two symbols . . . Crystal and Flame: two forms of perfect beauty that we cannot tear our eyes away from, two modes of growth in time, of expenditure of the matter surrounding them, two moral symbols, two absolutes, two categories for classifying facts and ideas, styles and feelings . . . I have always considered myself a partisan of the crystal, but the passage just quoted teaches me not to forget the value of the flame as a way of being, as a mode of existence. In the same way, I would like those who think of themselves as disciples of the flame not to lose sight of the tranquil, arduous lesson of the crystal.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The "Computing Kaizen" studio explored evolutionary architectural structures and their potential to anticipate change and internalize complex relationships. The studio used Processing, an open source platform for writing computational "sketches", to create intelligent building blocks that could self-organize into innovative forms. The interactive toys presented here are derived from the custom software written by the studio participants.