Diaa & Stefanos
From this week onward, we have decided we will be blogging collaboratively instead of individually. This seems more appropriate currently, as more back and forth is going on, and we would like the blog post to serve as anchoring and checkpointing for our progress.
Despite some terseness on the blog the last few weeks, we have been busy developing the conceptual basis for the experiments we want to perform and document. Upon discussing with Julia, we have concluded that by the end of the residency we would like to have a full road map for the project. We will then move on to the fun tinkering stage! We will start fleshing out more practical ideas and discussing relevant literature from next week onward, but this week we wanted to converge on a first draft of an abstract of what our project will be about. It is this:
Our goal is to introduce, document, model, and exemplify an interactive art protocol that employs emergent collective behavior as its main methodology. By emergent, we mean that simple interactions between agents in the artwork lead to complex results that are impossible for an individual agent to achieve. One can say that emergence is achieved when a system of many agents globally exhibits behavior that goes beyond the simple sum of the actions of the agents. The agents can either be participants, or their avatars in some virtual environment. We call this protocol designed emergence.
Interactive art created using the designed emergence methodology generates a collective experience or “memory” that is impossible to achieve on the level of the individual. Even though this collective experience is intended to appear when agents self-organize spontaneously, it can be either “planted”, i.e., fully or mostly predetermined by the artist (the Mexican wave can be thought of as a simple illustrative example of “planted” emergence), or generative, i.e., not predetermined by the artist.
Collective behavior typically arises when large numbers (think hundreds, thousands, or millions) of constituents of a system interact with one another. It is hence important to devise a modeling framework for designed emergence, so that practitioners can prototype and benchmark their ideas without the need to perform large-scale experiments. We will therefore implement a modeling scheme, where participants are replaced by simple artificial intelligence units. This will allow for computer simulations of designed emergence, with various degrees of realism, to be performed.
Through this introductory statement, several specialist terms are used in a particular meaning that may be different in this scope compared to their original definitions:
Collective behavior refers to the spontaneous and unstructured behavior of a group of people in response to the same event, situation, or problem.
Within the context of the above introduction, collective behavior indicates to the action of viewers emerged in the artificial situation generated by the autonomous system of the interactive artwork.
Virtual environment means the artificial environment built digitally using virtual reality techniques.
Within the context of the above introduction, the virtual environment is designed to produce autonomous outputs, with which viewers can interact by feeding back their action as a new input to be processed to generate the next set of outputs, and so on.
Collective experience is a common experience that people may witness as a result of interaction with a particular situation.
Within the context of the above introduction, collective experience refers to the common memories gained from a common course, however, it may be interpreted positively or negatively according to the different viewers’ related existing memories. Within this approach, the role of existing memories in knowledge generation could be investigated.
Autonomous system is a mandatory component of a generative environment, in which the participants cannot guess a particular output of the system, and also the creator cannot systematize the interactive setup to produce predetermined outputs.
Within the context of the above introduction, the autonomous system is the artist-made system that generates the virtual environment.