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design machine (2002)

Design Machine, a generative art project and color tracking system, is designed to represent the time accumulation using videos. On the full-color display, audience will be able to see the process of generating computer 3D graphics by the fish movement in the fish tank.

Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) showed the human figure in motion in his paintings. The “Nude Descending a Staircase no. 2” (1912) was a pioneering depiction of motion on canvas. My purpose to create Design Machine is to merge his representation and biological behavior with new media technologies.

In the installation, I use two video cameras to track the positions of three fish moving in the 11-inch cubic fish tank. The colors of the fish are: Red, Green and Blue, meaning each of them represents primary colors. According to their positions, my application generates 3D triangles, only in RGB colors, on the screen next to the fish tank. The computer graphics reflect real fish colors, so the trace of the fish can be identified by tracking the colors. Moreover, each vertex of the 3D triangles is the current position of the fish. As time goes by, the fish movement creates the time accumulation and expresses a different perception about time.

Design Machine has two canvases. One is physical installation and the other is computer graphics representation. Physical installation is an 11-inch cubic fish tank, with fresh water and 3 fish. Each fish has its own color: red, green and blue. The two video cameras shoot this fish tank from 2 directions, front and side. These cameras are connected to a computer and my original application generates 3D graphics. According to instantaneous the positions of three moving fish, the applications draws one triangle on the screen. There will be 300 triangles which represent time accumulation and depiction of motion. The application is programmed in C language and OpenGL. With this installation, audience will able to see the computer graphics interacting with organisms, fish.

Design Machine combines artistic representation and new technologies to explore the aesthetics side of looking at video from a variety of perspectives. Moreover, it is also a prototype of the information visualization system which helps audience to easily understand complicated data using simple computer graphics. My goal is to transform and visualize science data for everyone, meaning that people will enjoy learning and exploring more at a glance.

– M. Sheelagh T. Carpendale, David J. Gowperthwaite, and F. David Fracchia , “Extending Distortion Viewing from 2D to 3D”, Readings in Information Visualization Using Vision To Think, pp.368-377, 1999
– Abello J. and Korn J. “Visualizing Massive Multi-Digraphs”, IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization 2000, pp. 39-48, 2000


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