System_C (2004)

System_C is a time-based drawing machine, a self-organizing software system for the creation of rule-based images. Several autonomous agents move over a surface, making marks as they move, seen by visitors to the Electrohype exhibition as a realtime two-screen projection.

The drawing process is modelled on a simple kinetic system. Each agent has a speed and direction that both smoothly change for every step it takes. When the speed or rate of rotation exceeds the minimum or maximum constraints, they start reversing so that their values tend toward the other extreme, causing a subtle oscillation between values over time. Different values for the constraints result in visually different but recognizably related images.

Each image takes an hour to complete. Once an image is done, the surface is cleared, the drawing system is set to a randomized initial state and the drawing process starts over. The images that are created are ...

Full Description

System_C is a time-based drawing machine, a self-organizing software system for the creation of rule-based images. Several autonomous agents move over a surface, making marks as they move, seen by visitors to the Electrohype exhibition as a realtime two-screen projection.

The drawing process is modelled on a simple kinetic system. Each agent has a speed and direction that both smoothly change for every step it takes. When the speed or rate of rotation exceeds the minimum or maximum constraints, they start reversing so that their values tend toward the other extreme, causing a subtle oscillation between values over time. Different values for the constraints result in visually different but recognizably related images.

Each image takes an hour to complete. Once an image is done, the surface is cleared, the drawing system is set to a randomized initial state and the drawing process starts over. The images that are created are saved and uploaded to the web every few minutes so that online users can observe the most recent activity. All completed images are saved with a time stamp indicating the time of their creation. An archive documents the whole period of the exhibition.

Some physicists define glass not as a solid but rather as a slow-moving liquid, so viscous that we cannot observe its movement. System_C draws its images slowly enough to be perceived as nearly static, yet is in reality in a process of slow development. In all, over 360 images will be produced during the 8 weeks Electrohype is running.

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