media artist << >> researcher

"A particular method of symbolizing may be unimportant, but it is always important that this is a possible method of symbolizing. And this happens as a rule in philosophy: The single thing proves over and over again to be unimportant, but the possibility of every single thing reveals something about the nature of the world." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 3.34.

3.34 embodies the tension between explicit calculation and unforeseen emergence. The configuration of the suspended agents in the robotic sculpture is dictated by two antagonistic, self-organizing algorithms, in which each agent's position is influenced by a subset of other agents in the system. From this algorithmic competition, form and structure are created.

[ software simulation ]
Despite the limited intelligence of each agent, an intricate and dynamic structure emerges from the movement of the entire system. The structure, not explicitly calculated as a whole, is the result of many small and somewhat blind decisions on the part of each agent--decisions that render the system with a kind of meta-logic that is observable only from a greater distance.

[ timelapse ]
This tension between explicit control and emergent form invites a meditation on the relationship between logical calculation and unexpected consequences at each scale of existence. To what extent are we the suspended agents, blind to the auxiliary effects of decisions in our own lives? And to what extent can we find a way to appreciate the larger structures we create?