Saturday, July 7, 2007

Emergence - Architectural Jazz

Architectural Jazz
crtlshift07 competition entry by Jon Brouchoud (Keystone Bouchard)
One of the first projects I would like to point out is Jon's recent entry on Lebenswelt Island in Second Life. The floating piano keys emit notes as the avatar approaches each individual key. The resultant effect is an architecture which becomes a public instrument played through the movement and behaviors of its inhabitants.

This is an excellent demonstration of the idea of interactive emergence. Emergence within an interactive architectural context is loosely defined as unpredictable properties which emerge through the discreet interaction of individuals within a responsive environment. A characteristic of emergent properties is the inability to predict the outcome or patterns that emerge from those interactions. Individuals act as the autonoma operating under their own individual behaviors. Stephan Wolfram describes this in his work with digital cellular autonoma.

With regard to the virtual piano, the resultant musical piece created by the group cannot be predicted although general rule sets may be observed. For example, we might see that a smaller percentage of people are willing to fly to the top of the piece which might limit a set of notes that might be played. Emergent patterns may best be thought of as visualized or manifested probabilities of the behavior of the participants.

Jon has also engaged another important aspect of interactive works which comes in the form of The Game. A recent GameSetandMatch II conference (hosted by Kas Oosterhuis) recently accepted and published tens of interactive architectural projects that focused on architecture as a 'game' where occupants become participants in the architecture forming a behavioral dynamic between the two. This is generally enabled by digital technologies and through ubiquitous computing practices, but Second Life provides the benefit of being able to script directly into objects. By allowing the participants to freely explore the piano, they can begin to form their own rules for the game based upon their growing experience with the environment. For example, one avatar might concentrate on a favorite note as their personal contribution to the overall orchestration. As the game advances and the players' skill level increases, the game becomes more complex enabled by the growing experience of the participants.

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