Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Object to Field

Over the past few months I have suggested in various discussion groups the need for a more qualitative and quantitative investigation of reactive/reflexive scripts within SL. Avatar Keystone Bouchard (John Brouchoud) has accomplished this and has managed to package it beautifully in his Gallery of Reflexive Architecture.
The gallery explores the flexibility and variability of one or two simple scripts integrated into various forms and formations. This is most accurately a study on the ability for a single script to show vastly different expression through only minor variations in its behavior and in the form encompassed by it. The gallery goes on to identify multiple conditions of the proximity script including..

Carvable Architecture - each time an avatar approaches, these units move out slightly. Over time, the movement of avatars essentially 'carves' the architecture and high traffic areas become larger over time.

Prim Decay - prims decay as avatars pass by, leaving a visual trace of avatar paths during the course of 3 hours

Architecture On Demand – As titled

Architectural Jazz – Covered in earlier post

Traffic Graph - prims move down slightly every time an avatar approaches, creating a visual representation of traffic density

Elevated Plane – As titled

Sudden Space – More on this later

Door Wall – More on this later

This is a great example of visual complexity generated through the accumulation of basic responsive elements. The scripts themselves are fairly simple and, in most cases, are repeated among each of the individual elements. For example, the Architecture On Demand build utilizes a single block programmed to grow and diminish in scale as an avatar approaches. As a single unit, this block remains an object and is not very successful as an architectural element - but place many together in close proximity and the collection becomes a field condition. The individual blocks act in unison to create a field effect which gives the impression of a single membrane reacting as a singular surface. The resultant undulating surface is both elegant and visually complex and contains many more architectural applications as wall surface, floor surface, or spatial element.

This particular example further underscores the ability for virtual space to act as a test bed for RL interactive/responsive works. I spent some time developing a project along similar lines looking at deployable floor elements that would rise to furniture and table heights in response to user behavior and movement.

This project was never developed due to time and monetary constraints, but in virtual space we are able to study the visual and behavioral effects of such works. The falling price of processors, video processing technologies, and tracking devices such as RFID will enable us to integrate intelligent environments into standard architectures on a broad scale in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, we must find the most efficient, flexible, and robust means to test and develop the relationship between individual/group behaviors and environments. Currently virtual worlds such as Second Life are the perfect platform to experiment and develop such scenario-based thought processes.

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