Today’s Obsession: Synthesizing Social

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Here’s a lovely video I happened across at Vimeo by Belgian artist Gwen Vanhee, looking at flocking behaviors—that is, socially aware behaviors—in digital objects. It’s based on initial formulae by Craig Reynolds, whose site offers some intriguing ideas to the basic motion types associated with socially-organized digital objects, which he calls boids. He defines three basic modes (for the purposes of 3D modeling, anyway) which have variation: separation to avoid crowding flockmates, alignment to work with the general motion of flockmates, and cohesion to come together with flockmates. These ideas have been used in places you might not expect them to pop up in pop culture, for example flocks of bats in Batman Returns.

Gwen’s video combines this theory of social objects with another tool I became intrigued with from last year’s panel at SxSW called openFrameworks, which gives artists access to pre-programmed blocks with which to build digital art pieces. This is kind of a great example of its usage. Here’s their own site, with oodles of gewgaws to play with.

Image from Gwen Vanhee’s Flickr stream.