Art, Technology & Biology

Yesterday I visited Neutral Ground (1856 Scarth St.) to chat with artists Adam Nash and John McCormick who are in town from Australia to conduct a short residency. Both artists have extensive experience working with virtual environments involving real-time 3-D. Their current project is called Reproduction.

What it involves, says Nash, “is a virtual environment that has been programmed with certain kinds of evolutionary parameters using conventional genetic algorithms. But instead of using things like strength and health that scientists might use we’re using audio-visual parameters like colour, opacity, melody, rhythm, harmony and timbre.

Distinguished by colour and shape, there are nine different entities or species. Similar to those represented in the accompanying images they are based on organic forms found in nature. Each is governed by a different program that will allow it to reproduce under certain conditions.

Also included in the installation are several motion-capture cameras. If viewers wish, they can don a special glove with reflective markers. When they move their hand, the cameras will pick up the motion, and permit them to interact with the entities.

“If nobody else is moving their glove, you would have control of the camera, and the entities will start performing for you,” says Nash. “Once you stop, the entity will slowly drift away.”

If there’s more than one person active in the space, then the system oscillates between them to create a collaboration. Any interaction that occurs between the entities and viewers will impact on the former’s evolutionary path.

“Eventually we hope to create a multi-user version on-line,” says Nash. “The act of logging in will spawn an entity on your behalf which you get to [manipulate].”

Real-time 3D differs from the standard 3D found in movies like Avatar and Toy Story 3. The latter is pre-rendered, while real-time 3D is similar to a video game in that it’s interactive and responsive to viewers. Saturday at 8 p.m. Nash and McCormick will give a talk on their project, and people will have an opportunity to inhabit the space. Then on July 11-12 they’ll conduct a workshop on technologies associated with their project like motion capture and sound in a virtual environment.

For more info call 522-7166 or visit http://squaretangle.com/projects.html.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.