Dancing Tree

 

IDEA

  Pictures cited from internet

Pictures cited from internet

The idea came from the fact that it’s quite windy here in Edinburgh. When I am looking at the trees waving their branches, I feel like they are dancing.

Nature is full of movements and changing. It could be interesting to recreate the dynamic facts into a piece of picture or music. Imagine that we put sensors like accelerator or gyroscope on the branches of a tree, and then record the movements with time passing. Send the data back to the computer and apply functions to it to generate lines, circles and polygons in different sizes and colours. Thus, the movements of branches could be visualised into a piece of abstract random picture. The similar as making a piece of music or we may mix the picture and music together.

In this project, we do a job of drawing(designing) according to the realtime data, which is about the environment(wind, gravity), plant itself(spring, growth) and the time

 

INSPIRED WORK

Hamer Dodds

Hamer is both an artist and a scientist. He showed us his wonderful work during the lecture, which made me believe that science can reveal its beauty in form of the art.

  Photo by Sha LI

Photo by Sha LI

Institut für Mediengestaltung

This is a demo I played on TEI conference this February. People draw by their sounds, making the invisible volume into visible lines.

  Photo by Sha LI

Photo by Sha LI

The Brain Trilogy

The Brain Trilogy is a live experiment in time, space and sound by Glasgow-based Wiretrace. Interactive 3D stereo, mapped projections and live audio mixing enable the viewer to experience an ever-changing immersive experience.The work, inspired by neurologists from the Open University, seeks to recreate the beautiful and subtle morphology of the brain and ask fundamental questions as to the physical nature of memory and inner personal reality.

  Picture cited from internet

Picture cited from internet

Dancing Drawing

Human dancing has already been tried turning into drawing. Following video shows Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker performing On Line.

  Picture cited from internet

Picture cited from internet

Generative Art

Unlike common paintings which are done by strokes after strokes, generative art works are  done by mathematics. They looked random but have something profound.

 

EXPERIENCE

I started by learning the generative art. I read these two books, learnt the examples and run the demos.

  Book covers of 'Generative Art: a practical guide using processing'   and 'Processing: Creative Coding and Generative Art in Processing 2' 

Book covers of 'Generative Art: a practical guide using processing' and 'Processing: Creative Coding and Generative Art in Processing 2' 

Then I tested the first work, My Star Mandala.

  One 'My Star Mandala' painting by an indoor plant

One 'My Star Mandala' painting by an indoor plant

I tried to use the data getting from the sensors to control the parameters, such as using the y-asix acceleration to control the outer radius of the single mandala; the bigger the y-asix acceleration, the smaller the outer radius. Similarly, the bigger x-asix acceleration, the larger the steps(steps decide how many stars to draw).

  Main codes of 'My Star Mandala' methods

Main codes of 'My Star Mandala' methods

However, as pointed by Duncan, these kind of work cannot tell more informations. For example, how would people know the painting was drawn by what kind of plants? How strong is the wind? Where to see the time?…It would be better if take timing into account.

So I started thinking about the dynamic facts among the movements of branches. It wasn't an easy work, because the data captured by sensor only reflect the acceleration of a certain point. Since at least three forces are acted on this point - wind, gravity, plant itself, the data cannot indicate how strong the wind is.

  Drafts of dynamic analysis for branch movements by Sha LI

Drafts of dynamic analysis for branch movements by Sha LI

I read another book, The Nature of Code. I realised that I still can do something with that certain point. Because the acceleration, velocity and location of this point have meanings.

Since the processing module will update every tiny time slot, it is reasonable to do the vector operations between acceleration, velocity and location. I used the starting position and the new positions of the certain point where sensor located to draw lines, I named it 'Wind Pen'.

  Book cover of 'The Nature of Code'

Book cover of 'The Nature of Code'

  Main codes of 'Wind Pen' methods

Main codes of 'Wind Pen' methods

Then I got some results like these:

  One 'Wind Pen' painting by an RBGE tree

One 'Wind Pen' painting by an RBGE tree

Through this picture, we can see the collection of the locations of one point on this tree's one branch. It went farthest in the direction of top-right, which indicates that it has been blowed to that far in a certain direction, compared with other directions. Another information is it has been blowed to bottom-right most, although not very far in distance.

Based on this function, I got more results as showed below:

  More results based on 'Wind Pen' methods

More results based on 'Wind Pen' methods

 

HOW TO DO IT

1. Get the data

2. Process the data

3. Design drawing methods

4. Field work

Demo on May.9th morning

Problems and Discussion

  • Tree painting is not that easy.
  • Difference between imagination and the reality

· changing value range

  solution: process the data file afterwards

· some branches only go up and down

  solution: methods design

· data collectors are too heavy for some trees

  solution: get rid of cables (use WiFi)

  • Inappropriate operation may lead to failure

· start with unsteady state

· the angle between sensor clips and branches are not good

 

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

The painting drawn by trees could be attractive to some people. We can use the wonderful pieces of works to make postcards, bags, cloths and mug. Or we can develop an app or game where people can choose their favourite pen styles, loved plants and preferred time, even they can create their own drawing methods. Also, it would be a good idea to migrate these to sounds. 

 One set of postcard design

One set of postcard design

  More sets of postcard design

More sets of postcard design

 

IMMATERIALITY

After the above practice, I think the most exciting part of this project is the beauty of unpredictable; it is hard to tell what will happen on the canvas, although the established rules has been applied.

The trajectories of the plants disappear immediately, they create the art written in water. Not everybody has feelings of these masterpieces of nature, but we still have reason to recreate the immateriality into materiality.

I believe this is an potential project, what I have done is just a beginning on the first stage. I will do more in the coming summer to make it better.

  Setting up for the end of semester 2, May 2014

Setting up for the end of semester 2, May 2014

 

REFLECTIONS OF PRESENTATION

I present the project on May.9th in the RBGE. There I got good suggestions.

3D model of the tree

Duncan suggested that more sensors could be put on the different sides of the trees, and then reveal the data in 3D way. It is a good idea which corresponding the fact that the plants are 3D.

Not only the graphics works

Chris pointed out that I have made data into many graphic results, it might be interesting to reveal the data into different forms of art.

How long would it take to finish one piece of work?

Jon asked this question. It depends on the parameters I set and how windy the day is. A watchable piece of work could be done within ten minutes, half an hour or the whole day.

Also Young asked how could I know when the wind come? The answer is I just wait under the tree. So when it wasn't a windy day, I got nothing back to home. However, a blank  canvas with tiny strokes has the meaning of a not windy moment during such situation.

 

Special thanks to Duncan Shingleton for directing me during the development. Thank Mark, Jane, Fionn, Fabian and Irene for supporting me.