This blog is to detail progress on my MFA project and keep it seperate from the readings, weekly tasks etc set by Joel and Helen
1/11/2016 - Initial identification of project I am deciding to keep with the theme of light based computation and quantum mechanics. I will keep developing from the work I did last year which makes sense since I have invested a signficant amount of time and energy already into learning about quantum computing, quantum physics and working with speculative computing
3/11/2016 - Outreach to other people/institutions I have decided that an important part of my project is to work with people outside of goldsmiths, preferrably in the UK so we can meet face to face as I feel that one can make better connections when we are able to work in the same physical location rather than via skype or emails.
4/11/2016 - Identifying other institutions
These are places that seem to already be interested in speculative or just generally crazy ideas to do with computation:
International Center of Unconventional Computing http://uncomp.uwe.ac.uk/
Oxford University Quantum Computing Departments New Frontiers Dept http://oxfordquantum.org/major-themes/#Frontiers
Other research institutions/companies doing work with quantum computing in the UK:
Oxford University http://oxfordquantum.org/
Cambridge University Quantum Information http://www.qi.damtp.cam.ac.uk/
Cambridge University http://www-amop.phy.cam.ac.uk/amop-ma/
Photon Institute (Uni Manchester) http://www.psi.manchester.ac.uk/
York University https://www.york.ac.uk/physics/ycqt/ QuoPal (business side of oxford univerities quantum computing work) http://quopal.com/
People who would be interesting to talk to:
Andy Adamatzky (Unconvential Computing Department)
Theresa Schubert, wrote this book which has some great bits in it: Experiencing the uncovential, I already know Theresa, have worked for her before on some of her projects
10/11/2016 - Identifying other institutions Update After discussing with helen I will try to first investigate and then contact the Centre for Unconvential Computing and Oxford universities new frontiers quantum department, both these places seem very much on the edge of their fields which means they will probably be open to artistic collaborations
17/11/2016 - Reading List This is a list of texts that are related to my practice. This could form part of a bibliography/reading list for a final paper.
Alan Turing - On computable numbers (1936)
Norbert Weiner - Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948)
Konrad Zuse - Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space) (1969)
http://mathrix.neomesis.com/zenil/ZuseCalculatingSpace-GermanZenil.pdf (english version)
Maturana and Varela - Autopoiesis: A theory of the living organization (1981)
Susan Stepney et al - When does a physical system compute link
Baecker and Whitlaw (Irrational Computing, proto computing) 2015
There is a lot of stuff that could go between these papers but these are the most important ones, also I can go further and further back with people like lovelace,babbage etc.
Basically you can see that I am moving through this path
- The original definition of a computer was someone who computed numbers by hand hence their own brain is a computer
- Development of software to run on mechanical machines by turing, lovelace, babbage etc
- Concept of cybernetics developed by weiner which identified a common link between the mechanistic world of machines and software and biology, psychology by establishing the idea of self regulation
- Konrad Zuse talked about the universe as a computing machine
- Maturana and Varela's concept of autopoesis illustrates the self replicating and self reproducing nature of biological sytems
- Susan Stepney and others discusses at what point a physical system computes, discusses the representation relation between physics and maths, and how this relates to computing
- Baecker and Whitlaw's article talks about using non traditional materialss and techniques based on laws of physics to do computing. Most of their work talks about doing computing on a slower timescale through different physical processes
- My own work would fit in here and maybe integrate the ideas of using quantum processes for computing. These quantum processes are a kind of fusion between physics and the brain/conciousness for example the observer effect, schrodingers cat, also the idea of deep learning, neural networks etc. Could say that we have come full circle and that our conciousness and the physical universe are linked together as one giant computational machine, although lol can maybe mellow this assertion a little
Other relevant reading: http://evoevo.liris.cnrs.fr/download/5_-_meetings/3_-_lyon_meeting/slides/unconventional_computation.pdf Susan Stepney is trying to quantify or classify what is computation, which is quite interesting. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quantum-Computation-Information-10th-Anniversary/dp/1107002176 Need to find a copy of this book, have to go check it out at cambridge university library, from looking at the contents section pages 120-160 look very relevant and interesting to my own work Roger Penrose. Shadows of the Mind, this talks about consciousness and computing
22/11/2016 - Updated on contacting outside institutions
Helen talked with her contacts at UWE where the centre for unconvential computing is based and found that they may not be so active, so may not be such a good group to collaborate with.
After doing much research on Oxford Universities quantum computing departments I have found their new frontiers group to be a perfect group to collaborate with. I will do further research on the group and their members and read what they are publishing and check what kind of research they are doing.
29/11/2016 - Research on Oxford University New Frontiers of Quantum Physics Group
After reading through their publications I think this will be the perfect group to collaborate with. The leader of the department especially Vlatko Vedral is a very interesting guy who has published some pop science type books on quantum physics as information processing and does a lot of media work and outreach beyond the hard science field of quantum physics.
30/11/2016 - Initial contact with Vlatko Vedral
After extensively researching his work I worked with helen to draft an initial reach out email to Vlatko which can be seen below
1/12/2016 - Discussions with Vlatko
Vlatko replied almost immediately and we are planning a day for me to come and meet with some of his students and hear about their work and discuss potential collaborations which is great!
10/01/2017 - Writings/Speculation on use of quantum/heterotic computing
During the christmas break I spent some time writing and reading about the possible uses of quantum computing and also about heterotic computing which is computing systems that combine different computing methods. For example biological and quantum computing in the same system. This was initially meant to be the written part of our practice led project given to us by Helen but I ended up doing a slightly different project. Regardless below is the writing I did for the first idea I had, it is not finished and kind of ends abruptly half way through but it is something I could come back to later.
In 1993 Timothy May released the CryptoAnarchists manifesto detailed a distopyian future in which cryptographic technology develops to the point in which it is uncompletely secure and people can exchange information without the government or other groups being able to decrypt or trace the messages. This future is to some extent happening already with tools such as Tor and the DeepWeb but the real transition into a CryptoAnarchic future will come with the development of Quantum Encryption which will be the next big break through in cryptographic technology and will vastly change the way in which people communicate on the internet. While May's cryptoanarchic manifest talked about a future in which money laundering, mass drug dealing can exist but one may speculate that enhanced cryptographic techniques will also enhance the integrity of online communications.
Imagining two protagonists Alice and Bob who want to exchange a message that they want to be private (secret vs private), with any current encryption technique the security lies in the difficulty in which the encryption techniques can be reverse engineered through mathematical means. Quantum cryptography uses the physical procceses of quantum mechanics to encode information. Using the quantum effect of entanglement where two particles are generated such that the state of one cannot be described indepentely of the other. This effect can be used to communicate information securely with the laws of quantum mechanics preventing any kind of copying or manipulation of this entangled particle without being noticed by Alice and Bob. Not only can they commmunicate securely but they can also be sure that they are communicating with each other, this idea could also be extended such that people can identify themselves using Entangled Quantum Certificates enhancing the integrity of digital systems such as online voting and finiancial transactions. This can also prevent the mass government spying that is happening on its citizens as well.
This is almost the opposite of the situation which exists today in which it is relatively easy to obscure ones identity from other internet users but extremely difficult to secure the messages. This poses many questions for how we interact on the internet, who are Alice and Bob? Are they whistleblowers releasing information on a corrupt government or corporation, Extremists planning a violent incident, or just regular internet users who want to communicate securely.
I have developed a speculative architecture for a quantum cryptographic system called Eve that uses entanglement to allow two parties to communicate. This communication is made secure not by the mathematical difficulty in reversing the encryption but in the laws of quantum physics. At the core of the system is quantum entanglement in which two particles are generated such that their physical states cannot be described independetly of one another. Using a technique called super dense coding each of a pair of entangled particles are sent to the sender and receiver which each piece of information. The sender encodes the information using on of the entangled particles and the receiver decodes it using the other entangled particle. The beauty of this system is that integrety of the system lies in the properties of quantum particles. The particles cannot be intercepted due to the no cloning theory and also because if one of the particles is read by a third party it will collapse into its unentangled state and alice and bob will both know that someone has intercepted their communication. These entangled particles are a kind of one use key that cannot be duplicated or forged.
Having such strong encryption raises many interesting issues. May talked extensively about the implications of super secure cryptography, about how having privacy will lead to money laundering, drug dealing. Much of this already exists at the moment, with tools such as Bitcoin and Tor the deepweb has opened up as the wild west of the internet with sites such as the Silk Road, Alpha Bay and others allowing people to buy and sell drugs anonymously to anyone, anywhere in the world. More concerningly groups such as religious extremists, pedophiles and others have found a place in which to forge communities and communicate more securely than before. But as been seen the deepweb is not as deep as expected with numerous law enforcment agencies being able to shutdown and identify users of these sites. (Silk road bust, freedom hosting child porn bust, etc).
Where the use of Quantum Encryption will have the most profound effect will be as a method of securely identifying oneself on the internet. There are two parts to digital communication, the information itself and the associated meta data such as sender, receiver, timestamp etc. With tools such as Tor this metadata can be easily obfiscuted which makes the source or validity of information harder to discern. With quantum cryptography two parties can reliably identify each other vastly adding to the security and integrity of the information exchange. With this implementation Eve acts as a central server but this part of the project could be turned into a peer to peer setup. In the age of fake news, endless politically motivated hacking and distrust of established political and social institutions giving people the ability to communicated securely and confidently on the internet can
It is this that is at the core of the Eve protocol, I am envisioning a system in which a user carries a small dongle or device that they can plug into any computer, this is their quantum key and is used to identify themselves on the internet and send/receive information securely. This device will receive and store a quantumly entangled particle that will be used to encode/decode messages sent to another person who has the other entangled pair. One may assume it is cumbersome to carry a device that they must use to secure their communications, but it is no different than having a key to a car. The difference is that this key cannot be copied. An extra layer of security can be added by taking a hybrid computing approach to the problem. Some kind of microbial fingerprint can be used to identify the user. Every person has a unique set of microbes that evolve over time, it is this fingerprint that can be used to activate the box. And since many microbes cannot exist outside of the human body it is impossible for someone to steal your microbes and use them to log in with. This can be taken one step further by thinking about the human body and its microbial structure through the public/private key architecture of encryption. The private key could be ones own microbial system and the public key could be a certain cream that you rub onto your finger before activating the box. The microbes in the cream react with the microbes from your skin to create a signed certificate of sorts that can be used to identify yourself.
13/01/2017 - Contacting outside institutions
Another researcher I wanted to contact was Dr Susan Stepney from york university:https://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/ Her work investigates heterotic computing which is using different kinds of computating systems (classical, quantum, biological) together and what kind of frameworks would exist to allow these systems to interact.
Dr Stepney agreed to meet with me in Cambridge for an informal chat in early january.
15/01/2017 - Preparation for meeting with Dr Susan Stepney
In preparation for my meeting with Dr Susan I have prepared some questions/directions I want to steer the conversation which can be seen below
- Explain what I am interested in
- For my end of year exhibition I will create an installation showing computation in different types of natural systems
- I want to use some of her work to create a strong conceptual/theoretical underpining to it
- Use your ideas of mapping physical systems to abstract model
- Hopefully to try and add something to the work.
- Science communication 2.0, try to push things further and introduce a media arts/goldsmiths type audience to some of these fascinating ideas
- Apply methodologies such as software studies to this topic
- There are some interesting questions that arise when we think about using biological systems to do decision making in computation. Imagine having a slime mould systems that works out the best course of action in government/business policy making.
- Show that computation exists within the universe
- Think about the communication models between different types of computing systems
- Different heterotic systems work on different timescales and suit different purposes
- Quantum computing ()
- Wetware for learning and decision making
- biological systems for path finding, finding equilibriums in systems
- Speculate on some possible uses of this field
- As someone who has worked extensively in science and technology what do you think the best way is to reach the general public?
- Can the arts, science fiction etc explore new modes of thinking in science?
- Is this kind of speculative approach useful to the development of the field?
- Do you think about any future consequences of new computing systems? Especially as someone who has worked in the tech industry.
- I personally think this is very important
- Should we be looking to nature for ideas on how heterotic computational systems communicate?
- What areas of non classical computing are the most promising or interesting at the moment?
- I am quite interested in the use of the use of radiation as signals
- Pulsars and clocks
- Radioactive decay for random number generation
- How you imagine heterotic computational systems will look in the future?
- I am personally imagining very modular type systems,
- Also cloud based systems, things like quantum computing take alot of electricity and resources, it makes sense that specially constructed systems for specific uses exist somewhere and you send work for these to do.
- Binary logic does not usually exist in nature. Are new theories of computation needed?
- Quantum computing algorithms has developed around this problem.
- Are statistical based algorithms the way forward?
23/01/2017 - Notes from meeting with Dr Stepney
I met with Dr Susan Stepney at a costa in the centre of Cambridge on the 23rd January 2017. I had prepared a list of questions as a backup but my goal for the meeting was to have a conversation and not try and guide it too much, rather try and find areas of overlap in our own research and see what came from a conversation based on this. Unfortunately Dr Stepney was not comfortable with having the conversation recorded so I had to take notes which can be seen further below.
My initial plan of the interview/conversation was to first discuss my work/interests, ask her about hers then steer the conversation towards speculating on the future of computing/heterotic computing. I thought since Dr Stepney was very much interested in science fiction that it would be easy for the conversation to go in this direction. But actually this wasn't the case, it was a little hard to get the point across about speculation as art as for her she had a more traditional view of what art was. After a little while I realised that this wasn't going to work so I changed the direction of the conversation and we spent over an hour discussing systems, complexity, feedback, emergence, autopoiesis, claude shannon, turing etc etc.
The following are some notes from our discussion
- We are at the point with quantum/biological computing where the hardware is way behind the software
- Quantum computing is a good example of this
- Dr Stepneys work is all about mapping the interactions between computational systems and think about how they can interact, trying to create a mathematical model for this
- With quantum computing it is best not to concentrate on exact algorithms but think about how quantum computing systems will interact with other computational systesm
- Quantum computing will never be general purpose, most likely outcome is that we will have very specialised computers doing specialised tasks.
- Complexity in systems is an interesting area to study as an artist, something that is hard to explain with mathematics but can be shown very nicely with art
- Edge of chaos (langton)
- crutchfield complexity
- complexity is very much related to computational ability
- Pure order and pure chaos are useless, we need somewhere in between, a point at which information is maximised
- This is where useful computation in natural systems lies
- Computation may emerge in natural systems
- This emergence is most likely to occur at or near the transitions between states, especially with regard to second order critical transition?
- Places/things to look up:
- Water computer
- BZ Reaction
- eduardo mirando - plymouth/exeter
- William latham
- evo evo
The overall theme of our conversation were about systems and how any complex system exhibits all kinds of interesting behaviour that is related to feedback and emergence. Harnessing these behaviours is what can allow us to do computation in new kinds of systems. This is what Dr Stepneys work is all about and she wants to take it a step further by creating a framework and mathematical system that will allow us to do non standard computation once the technology catches up with the conceptual ideas
31/01/2017 - Practice based project
During the christmas/winter break we were set a task by Helen to do a small practice based project that was related to our practice
This project was created in response to a meeting I had with Professor Susan Stepney from York University in Cambridge. I have been reasearching standard computing (quantum computing, biological based computing,etc) for a while and Professor Stepney is one of the leaders in this field with her work concentrating on formulating structures around heterotic computing. See more about her work here.
The coffee shop that I met Professor Stepney in at Cambridge
During this meeting we discussed both her and my work and the overlap of interests. We discussed extensively the way in which art can aid in science communication and she was very interested in the idea of showing complexity and the emergence of computation through art
Upon returning to london I started researching computational complexity and more specific the concept of the edge of chaos https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_of_chaos which led to investigating cellular automata
Cellular automata have been studied extensively so I wanted to try something new and create cellular automata that use quantum probabilistic logic rather.
This proved to be an interested exercise as I was able to visualise the way thse algorithms work. Which is usually quite difficult and very abstract to non computer scientists
I want to extend this much further and try to visualise more complex behaviour within quantum cellular automata and also visualise computation existing in natural systems
The next part of the project was to rebuild the random number generator device I built last year. This device contains a geiger counter that detects radioactive decay and generates random numbers based on this. I originally built this device last year for my Physical Computing class and I wanted to update it.
The following images are of some of the components used in its construction:
All of these were put together to create a random number generating device that measures radioactive decay from a piece of slightly radioactive stone. The device works by detected each pulse from the geiger counter and measuring the time between each pulse. If the time between the first two pulses is less than the second two pulses it writes a 1 into a 8 bit char array, otherwise it writes a 0, this process continues until we have a 8 bit char array and we can create a number. This number is then used to seed the random number generator used within the quantum computing code.
02-05/02/2017 - Transmediale Berlin
From the 2nd to the 5th of February I attended the Transmediale festival in berlin: transmediale.de
Below are a few paragraphs about some of the talks that I saw that I felt were related to my project:
New Paradigms With Gabriele Gramelsberger, Gerald Nestler, Felix Stalder, Jutta Weber Moderated by Felix Stalder
This talk was really interesting to me as they discussed different types of complex systems, each of the speakers had his/her own specific area of expertise such as finance, climate modelling, cell biology etc. Most of the speakers had strong science backgrounds which is what made the talk especially relevant to my work. The main theme of the talk was about how computation exists in many different types of systems which is one of the main themes of my own work.
Gerard Nestler talked a lot about financial markets and how risk and uncertainty are the main processes. These processes create incredibly complicated systems of feedback and other complex behaviour. What also makes financial markets very interesting is that they are a reflection on the global political situation at any given time. It can be seen that a financial market can grow slowly and steadily but when some kind of unexpected event occurs this introduces entropy and uncertainty into the markets, creating more volatility which then slowly settles out until the next event occurs.
Gabriele Gramelsberger talked about cell biology, DNA printing and other kinds of biological systems that can be seen as doing computation. She talked about implementing various logic gates using biological systems such as transcriptors and repressilator which can be used to make logic gates using DNA. Another thing she talked about which I was very interested is Claude Shannons work on genetic algebra. I had never heard about this before, and have read a lot of his work around information theory. So on returning to London I did some research on shannons genetic algebra which is summarised in the following paragraph.
Claude Shannons PHD was on the subject of Population genetics and was overshadowed by his earlier famous masters thesis on switching in circuits and his later 1948 paper on communication systems. His PHD paper on genetic algorithms came after collegues at MIT discussed how he could apply his ideas of communication theory to genetics. The aim of the paper was to genetic makeup in future generations of a population starting with arbitrary frequencies. He introduced a new kind of symbols for populations of multilocus genotypes and rules for manipulating them. In the end his PHD was not published but even still was an interesting and very early attempt to apply computational techniques to biological systems. More information here Elemental Research With Andreas Broeckmann, Esther Leslie, Sascha Pohflepp, Yvonne Volkart
An interesting panel discussion which was about different types or different models of machines:
- Isolated machine
- Cybernetic Device
- Mega machine
- Mathematical Machine (Turing)
- Aotopoietic Machine (Maturana)
There were many other interesting talks, discussions, screenings and panels. I especially enjoyed the screening of Metahavens film The Sprawl. http://sprawl.space/ Not only did it have a really nice visual aesthetic and experience to the film it also did a really good job at explaining the problems with media and politics at the moment and was in the same vein as Adam Curtis recent film Hypernormalisation.
This is a picture one of the artworks from exhibition at transmediale:
07/02/2017 - Crystals
I have been interested in crystals for quite a while and have been experimenting with growing my own crystals over the past month. This relates to my work as crystals themselves are a type of algorithm. I want to investigate further the way in which crystals are not just a pretty object but a mathematical function/process. Below are some of my early attempts at growing crystals:
12/02/2017 - Trip to the Gem and Mineral Collection at the Natural history museum
I spent a rainy afternoon at the Natural History Museum looking at their Gem and Mineral collection. They have such an amazing collection and it was so cool seeing the different shapes and forms that occur and how many algorithmic designs I could see in them. It gave me lots of inspiration for future projects:
16/02/2017 - Crystals from code
From my inspiration visiting the gem and mineral collection at the Natural History museum, today I made an openframeworks app that generates crystal shapes from GLSL shaders. My interest in crystals is that they are a generative/computational process that can be simulated quite easily with code. I like the way in which crystals are a type of algorithm that grows.
19/02/2017 - The Crystal World - JG Ballard
I have been reading a novel by JG Ballard called the Crystal world, in the book a physician is trying to get to a leprosy treatmeant centre in the middle of the jungle in Africa. The book is set in this kind of timeless colonial period and describes how the jungle is sucking all the light and colour from the world around it and converting everything it touches to crystals. I like the metaphors that this book envokes, of a dense dark jungle transforming into a beautiful but deadly crystalline environment. You can also draw many parallels between this and colonialism in Africa, of a foreign entity entering the environment and spreading and infecting everything it touches.
The process in which crystallisation of the jungle occurs is described as particles of time meeting particles of anti time. The particles that comprise anything the crystal touch are stopped and hence form crystals.
28/02/2017 - Crystal Growing Experiment #3
02/03/2017 - Crystal Growing Experiment #3
Openframeworks app to generate crystal shapes. The app uses a cellular automata type process to create crystal shapes.
05/03/2017 - Crystals under a microscope
Today I used the microscope at the university lab to look at some of the crystals I have been growing. The results were interesting, they seem more organic than I was expecting. The brownish/red crystals were especially organic looking, this is probably because of the use of tonic water which I had added to the crystal mixture to make them UV reactive (which didn't actually work)
12/03/2017 - Mythology of Crystals
Hopi indians (america) looked through crystals to see certain things, one example is looking at a person through a crystal to see if they are evil. They also used crystals to deflect light around during ceromonies. http://www.crystalinks.com/hopi.html
Ancient egyptians used crystals alot for death ceromonies.
Antroprocene Crystals - There are many new types of crystals being formed due to human activity: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/found-thousands-of-man-made-minerals-mdash-another-argument-for-the-anthropocene/
This is very interesting and I could create some kind of mythology around new crystals that have formed. For example crystals forming under the sea from shipwrecks or pollution? New crystals growing and receiving electromagnetic radioation. Signals from space? Aliens? Drexciya?
14/03/2017 - Contacting Natural History Museums Gem and Mineral Department
I sent an email to Mike Rumsey from the Natural History Museums Gem and Mineral Department. I wanted to ask him about anthropormorphic crystals and if the museum has a collection of these. He said they do have anthropromorphic crystals but they are not specifically catalogued as such. He suggested some website to find the specific names of crystals and then get in contact again to see if I can arrange a time to view these crystals at the museum.
17/03/2017 - Ideas from Joel session
After our weekly crit session with Joel on friday I have decided upon a preliminary idea of what I want to do:
- Create some kind of mythology around anthropromorphic crystals forming, idea may be around sunken ship full of radioactive waste that then resonates at a frequency that can respond to alien signals.
- Build some kind of liquid environment that has crystals and lasers
- Some how bridge the anlag/digital divide between the physical crystals I am growing and the digital crystals that I am generating with code
19/03/2017 - Crystal Growing Update
Today I took a crystal I have been growing in Alum Sulphate solution out and into the Hackspace to investigate under a microscope. The crystal took about 1 month to grow, which was very slow but it has a really interesting structure. With the colour absorbing more at the top and the crystals being smaller and more intricate near the top and becoming larger and more blocky towards the bottom.
22/03/2017 - 3d Printing crystal
I created an openframeworks app which generated 3d crystal structures and exported it to an .stl file that can be processed by the 3d printer. I then printed out this structure:
28/03/2017 - More crystal growing experiments
These are some copper sulphate crystals I grew.
10/04/2017 - More crystal growing experiments
These are some copper sulphate crystals grown on a 3d printed lattice.
25/04/2017 - Trip to the occult bookshop...
Today as per Joels instructions I went and did the esoteric walking tour in covent garden to find information on the spiritual use of crystals
I first visited Watkins bookshop which was full of new agey type stuff, seemed very tacky and lacking any kind of depth to any of the books I looked at. I had a brief chat to the lady at the counter and she said they do crystal healings but the price was a little expensive for me, around £60 for a sessions
The next place I visited was much more interesting, Atlantis bookstore. This place is amazing it is full of books on stuff like Thelema, Grimoire conjuring, shamanism, etc. I asked the lady about crystals and she was fairly dismissive of them but pointed me to a section on astro-archeology and I bought an interesting book on various stone structures around the world and their uses.
Atlantis also had a museum in the basement with all kinds of really weird stuff, including a mermaid skeleton. Unfortunately there were no photos allowed but I am going to go back and try and sneak one next time.
Visiting atlantis bookshop was really inspiring for the development of some kind of mythology or occultism around crystals, I am going to follow this path more for my end of year exhibition.
1/05/2017 - Digital generated crystal structures
Using a 3d cellular automata app I made in openframeworks I have been generating largescale crystalline structures, these are composed of approximately 0.5 million particles.
13/05/2017 - Growing crystals on technology
Some tests growing crystals on electrical components and 3d printed shapes
17/05/2017 - Mythology
In the early part of the 21st century the endless digitisation and quantification of information led to a supersaturation of data. It is during this process in which the digital-physical divide was crossed and Ballardian esque crystal structures started to emerge, growing out from hard drives, usb sticks, server racks and cloud infrastructure. Metadata, search histories and personal files crystallised into physical jewelled forms that continued to grow and self replicate. These new crystalline forms contained within them a mutated form of information, seeded by the original data but self replicating themselves into crystalline structures to form strange, almost alien types of data that have created a modern day codex which we are as yet to decode.
This crystallisation began in a cloud server farm in china and spread throughout the infrastructure of the cloud and all its connected technology, in the same way a computer virus spreads throughout the internet this crystallisation spread throughout the internet and crystals emerged on cloud servers, hard drives, personal computers, laptops and even memory sticks throughout the world.
With crystals emerging all across the world the global systems of societal control started to break down and the world descended into a post apocalyptic landscape with governments ceasing to exist society reverted to more tribal like structures and also learnt to adapt to this new post crystallised world. With any information based technology rendered obsolete people had to work out ways to adapt to a world littered with these mysterious crystalline structures. It wasn't long till people discovered the properties of these crystals and harnessed them, some groups even formed cults who worshipped the crystals and their powers, claiming that they could see the future and alternate realities through the crystal through crystalmancy and finding hidden meanings encoded within the crystals. This became a kind of crystalpunk society where technology evolved around the power of crystals.
20/05/2017 - Crystalpunk technology
- Virtual reality headset which lets people look through the crystals to see into the future or see through people.
- Crystal watch, with a giant crystal embedded in it (not sure what it does)
- Crystal healing bracelet, that helps heal injuries (3d printed bracelet with lots of crystals embedded into it)
23/05/2017 - Computer crystal growing
My 25 kg bag of copper sulphate arrived today, my plan is to soak a PC in the copper solution to crystallise it.
25/05/2017 - Visit to Computing Museum
I needed to take an afternoon off so I thought I would go check out the Computing Museum in Bletchley to see if they had any really interesting historical computing devices. There was lots of interesting stuff there, especially the mechanical computing machines. They didn't really have anything that was pre 20th century though or anything that was really relevant to crystal computing but it was a nice day out regardless.
29/05/2017 - Crystalisation failure
I have been trying the copper sulphate crystallisation technique on lots of different objects and had a quite spectacular failure with an old smart phone. I took the battery out first and left my old Samsung Duos to soak in the crystal liquid. The copper solution reacted with the materials of the phone and it started to bubble and come apart in layers. The result was quite interesting aesthetically and could possibly be a piece on its own. But it is not the result I am looking for as I want the crystallised objects to look new still, and as if they can still work.
03/06/2017 - Crystal Mythology
This is the mythology I am working on around the crystal process
In the early part of the 21st century the endless digitisation and quantification of information led to a supersaturation of data. At this point in history there was around 44 zettabytes of data which was stored on enormous data centres and cloud computing servers that stretched all over the world. In the same way that the supersaturation of matter in a liquid causes the crystallisation of that matter the huge amount of density of information caused the crystallisation of data into physical forms. What began in a cloud server farm in china and spread throughout the infrastructure of the cloud and all its connected technology, in the same way a computer virus spreads throughout the internet this crystallisation spread throughout the internet and crystals emerged on cloud servers, hard drives, personal computers, laptops and even memory sticks throughout the world.
It is during this process in which the digital-physical divide was crossed and Ballardian-esque crystal structures started to emerge, growing out from hard drives, usb sticks, server racks and cloud infrastructure. Metadata, search histories and personal files crystallised into physical jewelled forms that continued to grow and self replicate, taking over and spreading out from existing technology it continued to grow as if feeding upon the bits and bytes that had been stored.
These new crystalline forms contained within them a mutated form of information, seeded by the original data but self replicating themselves into crystalline structures to form strange, almost alien types of data that have created a modern day codex which remained a mystery to the people that tried to make sense of this post crystallisation world.
With crystals emerging all across the world the global systems of societal control started to break down and the world descended into a post apocalyptic landscape with governments ceasing to exist society reverted to more tribal like structures and also learnt to adapt to this new post crystallised world. With any information based technology rendered obsolete people had to work out ways to adapt to a world littered with these mysterious crystalline structures. It wasn't long till people discovered that the new strange crystals had special properties and tried to harness them. These properties ranged from almost quantum abilities to communicate, predict or even see into the future. Some groups of people even formed cults who worshipped the crystals and their powers, claiming that they could see the future and alternate realities through the crystal through crystallomancy and finding hidden meanings encoded within the crystals. As the traditional ideas of religion on modern culture broke down people started to look to the occult and religions as both a means of making sense of this new world. and of An interesting cult arose during this post crystallisation world, based on the religion of Thelema created by aleister crowley, this cult viewed the crystals as a manifestation of spirits and used them to conjure demons and create powers with the crystals. These groups looked into the crystallised data, trying to decipher its meaning, obsessed with the thought that these crystalline growths contain messages and hidden knowledge from some kind of otherworldly group.
This became a kind of crystal punk society where technology evolved around the power of these crystals. People created new kinds of technology which used the mysterious properties of these crystals. Crystallised smart watches were used as communication tools, utilising the quantum effects of superposition and entanglement the crystals would vibrate and glow at different frequency in resonance with other nearby crystals. Allowing people to see whether a member of their tribe who had a similar crystal was nearby or in what direction they were.
Another common use for these new crystal forms was to take the computers that were once used for forecasting and predicting information and stare deeply into the crystals that formed on them performing a kind of crystallomancy where one can see body their own eyes and see more about the world than is usually visible. This was used to create special glasses where people could see the presence of different kinds of energies. - Some tribes went even further and fully immersed themselves in this kind of crystalline virtual world. Strapping the crystals onto their faces they claimed that they did not need to use their own eyes and could see extra planes of reality through the crystals which were far more interesting than the everyday world around them.
Others looked to the crystals as sacred texts or information left by the gods, attempting to decode the crystalline information into audio and visual codecs such as mp3, jpg and mov these people poured endlessly through the chaotic but structured information created by the crystals for an insight into worlds beyond our own. - This crystal punk world has some of its roots in the power and mystique of crystals. Throughout history crystals have always been used in ceremonies and magic. Some even went further to try and harness the power such as the crystal powered airship which was devised but never built in 1709 and is documented the Museum Museorum book by Vantini
14/06/2017 - Museum displays
For my final exhibition I am thinking to have it set up as a kind of museum archaeology display from the future. I have been looking at some different ideas of how this might look and looking for inspiration from other museums. I visited the design museum and looked at some more hi-tech looking displays.
21/06/2017 - TextPetrification video
This is a Processing app I have been working on to make a text based cellular automata app. This app is based on the process of crystallisation of data and is meant to represent what happens to the digital data when the process of crystallisation occurs.
24/06/2017 - Exhibition at Gossamer Fog
I participated in a small group show at a gallery in Deptford called Gossamer Fog. The theme for this show was digital artifakts which fitted in quite well with the work I have been doing. I showed some of my crystallised objects and the generative TextPetrification app I have been working on. I received lots of positive feedback with people especially liking the crystallised objects
4/07/2017 - Exhibition Plan
After much research I am thinking that a modular display made of square tubes with 3d printed connectors will be the way to go. I have started making some preliminary plans for the layout of the installation and also on the tubes and connectors needed
5/07/2017 - Visiting the Science Museum Archive
Today I visited the Science Museums Archive to view the John Dee crystal amulet. It took about 2 months to arrange this visit so I felt very lucky to be able to see it. Below is a brief text about my experience there.
On the 5th of July I visited the Science Museum's archive collection in Olympia to see the John Dee crystal which he used for scrying and for seeing visions that allowed him to come up with new astronomical, mathematical and philosophical theories. Upon arriving at the Blythe House I entered the imposing Edwardian red brick building and was led through a maze of corridors and rooms into the basement archival rooms. The room where I viewed the John Dee crystal also contained a grisly collection of medical and torture implements.
The crystal was laid out on special white foam to avoid it reacting with any oils or materials that may be on the table. It was quite small measuring no more the 4x 3cms. It looked incredibly small and delicate, like something my grandmother would wear, the design of the amulet had a slightly sinister look to it though, sharp edges and angles. The glass was very clear and looked incredibly pure, I was expecting it to be in worse condition seeing as it was over 500 years old, in fact it had an almost timeless look to it, like something someone would come up with for a steam punk costume piece. It looked like it hadn’t aged at all. It was amazing to think that this delicate piece of jewelry had so much history associated with it. Unfortunately due to the items fragility I was unable to handle it but the technician was able to hold it up and I could look through it briefly at the table underneath.
Looking through the crystal it seemed to have a very strong optical effect, similar to a magnifying glass, warping and blurring the image as I looked through it. It is easy to imagine how John Dee be inspired by what he saw through the crystal as he gazed through the distorted, warped optical effects that the crystal created.
12/07/2017 - Return Visiting the Science Museum Archive
I returned to the science museum archive and was able to look through some documents they have that relate to the john dee crystal amulet. None of the documents were useful to my project but can be used for further projects.
13/07/2017 - Exhibition display stands
After a lot of looking at different options I have decided that I will use Ikea Vittsjo desks and shelves to display my work. These are minimalist black framed with glass panels. I will print dark blue text vinyls (the same colour as the crystals) that explain the piece. I will also have some screens that explain my piece and show some of the data petrification.
20/07/2017 - Essay finished
My essay is now finished, below is the introduction which gives an overview about what I am writing about. Also a link to the full essay is below.
J G Ballard's book “The Crystal World” describes a post apocalyptic setting in which the condensation and supersaturation1 of time, deep in the jungle has started a process of crystallisation. This process spreads, enclosing everything it comes into contact with into a beautiful jewelled state of suspended animation. The crystallisation process itself starts with molecules joining together into an organised structure depending on its available bonds, as the crystal grows an apparent shape emerges, creating beautiful and mesmerising structures. (Ballard, 1966).
This essay discusses the process of crystal growth in relation to the development of computers, technology and network culture and how the process of crystallisation is inherent across all kinds of complex systems. This process of crystallisation has continued since Deep Time2 and has now entered a phase of Silicification3, in which silicon is overwhelming every aspect of our world. Using a hybrid approach of looking at this evolution through the methodologies of Variantology (Zielinski, 2006) and Media Archaeology (Parikka, 2010), I will discuss a different way of looking at the history and evolution of computers and computational systems. I propose that computers and computational systems are a type of crystallisation that has continued throughout history. This global crystallisation process started with the coalescing of atoms and particles to create complex forms of matter in deep time has continued throughout the history of the universe and is apparent now in the rapid growth and increased density of technology and data.
From their geological beginnings, to their use as tools for divination and to their modern use in computers, crystals have always been part of hardware components. They have been used as mathematical models of self organisation and have been at the at the centre of the development and a source of inspiration for our networked culture. Some examples are oscillators made of quartz crystals which are used to create stable high frequency oscillators, silicon crystal wafers used to create computer chips used in almost all devices, precious gems used for divination or calculating time and also the processes of crystal growth has been used as a model of self organising systems such as cellular automata (Langton, 1986). What I am describing in this essay is a crystallisation process which has lead to the evolution of computers and networks and is happening in the same way that the crystals in Ballard's book formed from the supersaturation of time and space and started to take over the jungle.
24/07/2017 - Labels for exhibition stand
Today I experimented with the vinyl cutter to make labelsf or my individual crystal items. I decided that I liked the look of the individual letters rather than the cutout silhouette. I liked the way it looks and will put these blue labels on the glass tables/shelves for the exhibition.
27/8/2017 - Crystallisation Narrative Video
I have been working on a video that will play on a screen as part of the installation. This video will tell a narrative about my work. Explainging the story behind the crystallisation event and explaining how it happened. It will discuss how information became so dense that a process of crystallisation occurred and crystals grew out from technology.
Some screenshots of the video
28/8/2017 - Crystal Data visualisation app.
I've been working on an app that will create a crystal from data. What I did was download my facebook opengraph data from my facebook profile. I then took this and ran a machine learning algorithm over it.
31/8/2017 - Crystal Data visualisation app cont
With the machine learning data from facebook I made an application which generates a crystal structure. It uses the information from the metadata and then uses this to help grow the shape. The crystal structure is created using a hexagonal cellular automata application.
6/9/2017 - Last day of setup!!!!
Today was the last day of setup! tomorrow is the big day. This is a timelapse video of my piece being setup.
7/9/2017 - Exhibition Day
Everything is all finished now finally.