ice-melt switch

more topology. How to transform what is in our heads into something perceivable by others, their senses, how do we ensure that what we encode will be decoded correctly by our users? and how much, if at all, does accuracy matter?

We are constrained by our senses. Constrained to the ways our eyes, ears, bodies... perceive our relationship to the world. This week I was reading a book called "Knots-mathematics with a twist" by Alexei Sossinsky and I came across an interesting bit of information. The two mathematicians who envisioned Antoine's necklace and Zuev's wild knot (two crazy knots) were both blind. Sossinsky then proceeded to talk about tests that were done with blind people who regained their sight. These people were able to see differences in 3-dimensional structures before being able to tell the difference between 2-dimensional structures. So they could differentiate a torus and a sphere but not a square and a circle. Our sensory perception binds us to certain dimensions. Dimensions that are relevant to our physical body. For instance, the sensors in our eyes are laid out on the 2-dimensional surface of our retina. This is really useful from an evolutionary standpoint, but it is interesting to think about what our mind is really capable of it is not governed by our sensors. This week our assignment for Amit's class was to build something with a switch. A single dimension, and leaving class one other thing that Amit said stuck in my head. "People do distance, that is it". I think this is a really meaningful way to look at things. Absolute values are the only thing that is valuable to us. Build whatever you want, but know that as humans, we will "sample" your innovation 1-bit at a time.

At first this might seem a bit boring. But it is really a fundamental constraint that is the basis of all innovation. Sensors on their own are not so interesting. We have millions of them, and each one of them on their own either fires or doesn't. boring. The interesting part about all of this is not the sensor itself, but instead the way these signals are processed. In essence it is a transformation from a 1-dimensional data set into, what potentially could unlock some n-dimensional representation in your brain. Artists do this best.

The role of the artist(designer) is to encode transformations from 1-dimensional counterpoints, to spaces beyond your wildest imaginations. These counterpoints are keys to infinite dimensions. The reason this can be a hard problem is because it is impossible to experience the transformation on the other end. For the best artists, this process comes naturally. And the process that I'm talking about is not trying to guess what will be experienced on the other end. I think any attempt at that is futile. We could hypothesize, but know that you cannot know. The more natural process is to come up with ways to transform whatever n-dimensional thought into something as efficient, clean and expressive as possible. And this can be anything, as long as the transformation feels natural to you. (no wrong answer). Essentially what we end up with are 1-dimensional triggers for switches on our bodies.

What does this mean to us? As designers, innovators, artists... we need to assume that the materials of the future will be equipped with sensors that are attached to really good computers. With advances in technology, our materials are becoming more like our bodies. They are complete systems, systems that are described by input, output, a data-set(tendency towards some representation...like genetic map), and pathways for feedback. That being said, our bodies (until we mutate) are still bound to our 1-dimensional sensors. So at the end of the day, the way we experience innovation is still the same. We will enter the innovative scape of the future in the same body that 500 years ago stood inside the Sistine Chapel.

This week I tried playing around with those questions. Specifically, what does it mean to build with a material that senses? I started with images in my head that could best be described as "walking through sensors". How does structure define input to that structure? How is that data managed? What can it be used for? Is it necessarily reconnected to that structure? Or can it be recycled to another system?
I began by building on my previous model for discrete systems interacting through counterpoints of other systems and began to think about what the bare minimum is that you need to make use of such a counterpoint. I decided to make a "ice melt sculpture", pictured on the left, where ice would be placed at the top, and as it melted, it would activate the switches embedded in the form. I then connected it to my software model (the one I've been using for everything) so that each drip would be encoded as a new system interacting. And the resulting data would influence the visualization. I'll skip the details on the logic behind it all, but ask if you are interested. So the concept that I was going after is that water, air and now the ice melt switch (including my visualization) are all discrete systems. Each have starting point properties... the water, air molecules have a starting point, data set, density mapping just like my ice melt switch. So the innovation is explicitly a complete system, with tendencies, pathways for mutation...just like other discrete systems...

I'm not really happy with the result, but I'm very happy about what I learned from the process. I am starting to gain a perspective on how new ways of channeling data can help to create, open up, describe new types of spaces and experiences. The only thing that I really like about this is that it describes a visualization, that without this technology, I could never make myself. I would never be able to draw, that specific, unique, seemingly random moment created by this sculpture and collision of systems. After doing this once, I now have the data in a way that is visible to me, so I can do what I want with it. (I am actually very interested in doing hand drawings of data from these points of interaction. specifically realizing a pathway where I could acheive something that without a machine would not have been possible). making humans behave more like machines...realizing that intersection...

I like the idea of designing for data, what if instead of making something, the purpose of what you make is just a data-capturer...an empty space, filled with all types of sensors. All data is the same. So technically, you could apply a data set, taken from virtually anything, to anywhere you choose. this is kind of cool to me, also a huge problem, but something that I want to play with. To be more clear, I could take the data from my ice melt sculpture and build anything from it. connect it to the lights in my house. make an infinite number of drawings, visualizations. Use it to tell me if I'm hungry...

I think these are a lot of interesting questions. How do we structure a vocabulary that describes how to interact with an object, so that the data recycled back into the structure of the object is relevant?

Human expression in the future continues to involving extending, abstracting and implanting counterpoints, pieces of ourselves into the world. But now these pieces are sensors, attached to processors. So the world we are walking to has pathways for intelligence, an intelligence much different from our own.

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taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. taylor levy. possible design object. possible design object. possible design object. itp. itp. itp. itp.