Computational Arts

Session 7: Stop Motion, More Crystals and Gut Flora

We started the session with Jullianne’s homework from the previous session:

  1. Set up a Twitter account for the project
  2. Keep pushing on gathering content
  3. Speak to the technical support team about likely projector for her final show
  4. Make video/static documentation of code as it is
  5. Draw out the interface as she sees it – paper prototype it!

She created a Twitter account for the project: @sharemodernlove. On the content side of things she reached out to Tinder Nightmares and LastMessageRecieved, and posted on her blog about it. She emailed the technical support team, but I suggested meeting them in person as they are so busy. She posted some documentation of her code in its current state:

We discussed building the installation on the web in p5.js rather than in openFrameworks, which has quite a steep learning curve.

I found a series of tutorials from the amazing Coding Train on physics simulation in p5.js:

In addition I suggested using .json files to store conversations and use this tutorial to load it into p5.js.

I set the following homework:

  1. Gather more content, dependent on Tumblr responses.
  2. Make a prototype with:
    1. p5.js
    2. Data files in json for conversations
    3. Physics based chains of conversations, similar to this Matter.js example.
    4. Voice synthesis with p5.js-speech.
    5. iPad swipes via osc using HammerJS and p5js-osc.
  3. Keep chasing the technical team for projector resolution
  4. Set up your own GitHub.

Jayson was next in the session and we started by reviewing his homework from the previous session:

  1. Watch Silent Running
  2. Reach out to Mike Rumsey
  3. What computing problems can crystals solve?
  4. Speak to theo about computing people
  5. Take a crystal healing session
  6. Reach out to Andy Lomas

He watched Silent Running, but didn’t cry! He emailed Mike Rumsey, who was predictably very busy – but Jayson is trying to set up a time to meet with him. This conversation brought up the subject of crystals formed as a result of human activity. Jayson referenced Drexciya:

Drexciya, which eschewed media attention and its attendant focus on personality, developed an afrofuturist myth. The group revealed in the sleeve notes to their 1997 album The Quest that “Drexciya” was an underwater country populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women who were thrown off of slave ships; the babies had adapted to breathe underwater in their mothers’ wombs.

We seized upon this idea of creating ones own myths – the idea of minerals forming around a shipwreck – like a stomach bug eating the dead body of it’s host. Jayson referenced Hopi Native Americans and their use of crystals during ceremonies – to be able to see new things and also to deflect light. I said to not be afraid of making a beautiful space – imagine a network of reflected beams. Jayson decided to write about it – I suggested making a map of his myth.

The main computing application of crystals was to use as oscillators to allow for timing within the computer. He showed two very dry Department of Defense videos on the subject. I suggested some more research into the applications of oscillators – what is the computational relationship?

Jayson spoke to Theo, and unfortunately he didn’t have any further contacts for him. I suggested looking at crystal radios, as a reference to something that I had done in my youth. I then remembered the image of the first transistor:

Which used a crystal of Germanium – a perfect computational reference!

We moved on to a discussion of the previous article around the Anthropocene, particularly around the forming of crystals on the great barrier reef – in the future could sea level rises cause electronic dumps to be flooded to form new crystal structures? Jayson stated that he’s going to print some 3D shapes as forms to grow crystals on.

Jayson hasn’t been for his crystal healing session as yet, he is going to do the walking tour. He posted on several forums for a lower cost alternative to a full crystal healing session. He’s going to wait to reach out to Andy Lomas until he’s surer of what his installation is going to be. I discovered a link about crystals being used to enable quantum computing.

I set the following homework:

  1. Make a crystal radio.
  2. Research Germanium.
  3. Consider your new mythology – around undersea wrecks? Flooded dumps? Mining in the future?
  4. 3D print a support structure to grow crystals on.
  5. Meet a crystal healer / do an esoteric walking tour
  6. Think again about the analogue/digital mix of your installation. Situate your practise in your own life history and memories.

Dianne was last to have her work discussed in the session. Her homework from the previous session was as follows:

  1. Ask mum best place in London for research
  2. Biohacking lab, can they help with construction
  3. Make contact with the best place – what would they advise
  4. Plan exhibition more – micro / macro / explanation
  5. Speak to the Wellcome trust
  6. Get glassware catalogues from mum – or the websites for gear
  7. Speak to William Latham at Goldsmiths
  8. Speak to other researchers at Goldsmiths
  9. Research biome simulation

After speaking to her mum, she was recommended Imperial College and Kings College as places in London doing Microbiome research. Jeremy Nicholson was one person that she highlit, as well as Tim Spector at Kings.

Further away from London we found the Oxford Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project, unfortunately she missed their recent meeting, but it looked to be a good resource. Her mother also suggested Glen Gibson who know’s her personally – his work is more around diet and nutrition, but he is well connected.

The Biohack lab will help with advice but it’s much more of a do it yourself kind of place.

She felt she needed to develop her core questions further before approaching people. Quorum sensing was an area that looked interesting – how bacteria communicate with each other by forming a biofilm.

Dianne is focusing on her dissertation at the moment – as she will be marked on it. This written work will form the core of the question(s) and theme(s) she wants to explore in her exhibition – which she will not be marked on.

She has visited them, but she needs a larger group of people to get funding – I suggested using them as a resource for glassware and other historical artefacts.

She found this source for Agar, which would have to be ordered through a lab – but she could make dyed Agar with regular nutrient Agar and food colourings. Her mother suggested experimenting with various dyes – certain bacteria will tend to certain colours.

She reached out to William Latham, after finding two of his papers that were relevant:

He suggested meeting after the end of term and also suggested bringing Frederic Laymarie into the conversation too. He linked to his Mutator VR project.

Some recent projects from Frederic:

  • FoldSynth: An interactive platform for the study of proteins and other molecular strands (joint work with Imperial College/Bioinformatics)
  • Eco-a-Life: Ecosystems in Virtual Worlds (joint work with Portuguese artist/programmer Rui Antunes)

It looks like he could be a good contact for an introduction to the Bioinformatics team at Imperial – who state on their website that they are keen to:

Develop new collaborative projects within and outside Imperial, particularly those that are multi-disciplinary.

Dianne said she’s also interested in bioinformatics – computation is the lens through which we view the biome.

She emailed Lisa Blackman, she replied with the following:

I just edited a special issue of Body and Society called The New Biologies exploring some of these issues. I would recommend Hannah Landecker‘s work who contributes to the issue. You might also find the work of Samantha Frost of interest and particularly her new book Biocultural Creatures.

Dianne ordered the book and found some great resources from looking at Hannah Landecker.

We then moved on to her research around simulation.

Pink Bacteria Dance by kynd.

Wanderers: Living Mushtari by The Mediated Matter group at MIT.

RGB Petri by Jeremy Awon.

AADRL Spyropoulos Design Lab research.

We also found some good biohacking  resources:

We returned to the central question of her work – what is it? Dianne said she was exploring what it means to be human. We came back to the thought of alien life seeing humans as hosts for the biome. If you take two humans their DNA will be 99.9% identical, but their biomes will be wildly different. In terms of DNA, humans are 98% pig and 80% banana! We also discussed brain/biome interaction and what the Bioinformatics team is researching in that area.

Dianne referenced Simon Sublime, an anonymous Artist/Scientist, particularly his methods of exhibiting his work.

Finally I suggested looking at the simulation of mitosis on the fantastic Coding Train.

Perhaps Dianne could simulate all Gut Flora?

Diane Homework:

  1. Keep thinking on question for dissertation
  2. What is the installation? Bioinformatics of the Biome?
  3. Speak to the Wellcome trust collection what do they have on the biome? What apparatus? Even just the glassware collection.
  4. Contact the Science Museum – about their work on the Biome.
  5. Meet with William Latham and Frederic Laymarie at Goldsmiths.
  6. Make contact with the Bioinformatics team at Imperial.