Part of a series of activities exploring bringing people to a personal understanding of how unforeseen complex outcomes can derive from a simple set of seemingly unrelated behaviors.
Group of humans as self-managing algorithmic automatons creating visual trails of their paths.
As they move they create visual imprints in the sand (for example by dragging a foot or rake). Each person gets a list of rules / process steps (maybe a piece of paper) governing their individual movement. Some algorithms may have elements of free will (e.g. when X happens, change direction 45 degrees to the left or right) or global variables set by the group / simulator (e.g. number of steps after intersecting a line in the sand).
Capture the emergence of trail patterns from a drone.
Or do the performance in a place where visible from a higher perspective (like a cliff).
Give the group control over their own generative design.
Before releasing the people into their simulation, offer the group several algorithm options with global variables (e.g. the behavioral sliders) they can choose to personalize the resulting form. Ultimately the choice of algorithm determines the overarching visual properties, but the choice of global variables by the group and free will decisions of the automaton personalize it uniquely.
For deeper engagement, offer the opportunity to work as a group to create your own algorithms and discover the resultant patterns.
- Incorporate long exposure light trails
- Co-design algorithm with specific music
- What are other ways to visualize the paths over time?
- Simple visualizer / simulator. Create lightweight algorithm palette of human behaviors (e.g. X steps, turn 45 degrees to the left or right). Ability to print an instruction sheet for each algorithm, with overall pattern and an individual's decision list. Could be mocked up with pen and paper or with a quick bit o' code.
- Experiment with different methods for trial creation from birds eye perspective.