Mutandrum is an interactive composition for Playable Media, with capacitive sensing panel and evolutionary swarm simulation.  Interactive sound and graphics are driven in parallel by the simulation. Sound is synthesized in real time. Swarm graphics provide the interface for performance control.

Credits: Peter Danshov edited this video. James Palermo meticulously and excellently remixed the audio. Arthur Peters developed the Playable Media code, authoring environment, and performance/display system. The capacitive panel was created by Ateliers Numériques in Montréal, and was originally designed for “KA” by Cirque du Soleil. Robin Bargar was Executive Producer for this project. Professor Hiroke Sayama of Binghamton University generously provided the code for the original swarm simulation.

Wayfaring Swarms

Wayfaring Swarms is a multi-player interactive art installation combining simulation and a technological construct to enable players’ free hand gestural interaction. Artistic investigation pursues playability based upon the most fundamental behavioral and temporal tendencies encoded in biology and cognition: attraction and repulsion, reflex and recovery.

The simulation is based on agents’ swarm like, low level self organization, a type of algorithm often used in evolutionary biological computing. A set of simple kinetic rules is applied to steer swarm agents’ motion. each agent having its own kinetic parameters so that several different types can be mixed into a heterogeneous population. The installation architecture combines the simulation with tangible displays, data-driven visualization and sonification, robots, and sensors. The piece features an extended technique for interaction design by routing signals through three perceptual models, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Physical Reality, by interfacing three types of agents through computational representation.

The Design inspires a three-agent concept conceiving players’ hands as play agents, robots as mechatronic agents, and swarms as virtual agents, to engage in the metamorphosis of heterogeneous species in swarm simulation. External forces are introduced to the system by a class of phantom super-agents, players’ hands and robots. These super agents influence swarm formation.

The artistic concept is derived from an anthropological directive, making analogy between emergent behaviors in swarm simulation and political climates, by visualizing and explicating the implications in the archaic patterns reflected in ancient life forms in evolutionary biology, and in human politics and rhetoric dating back to ancient Greece. From oligarchy and plutocracy to modern democracy, various demagogues appeal to the tendency of the “mob” and its natural force.

From an artistic insight, the rational ignorance of contemporary voters is a subject of a functional self organizational principle in the two-dimensional world of swarms. Populations naturally swarm around the first order centric force unless it is intervened. The first order centric force and swarms constitute a state of affairs upon which a play scenario is composed. Artistic intent is to orchestrate a playful interaction scenario for players to intuitively engage into the second order world of sensorial knowledge and the world of complexity, without complicated world models or game plans. Memory cache on metaphor is only to scaffold play as a constructive process uncovering the complexity that conspires players’ identity.

Contributors Robin Bargar; Hiroki Sayama; Arthur Peters; Michael Chladil; Damon Baker