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Organic Automata, Or Contemplating Countless Hours of Coding

For our ICM final, Michelle and I want to make organic creepers using Processing. I’ve tried to explain the idea to a number of people, but this video does a better job. Pay attention only to the black branches:


Metamorphosis from Glenn Marshall on Vimeo.

Philips also approximated the effect we were looking for in their electronic tattoos:

So what we want to do is:

IDEALLY: Create a program that will generate branching tendrils that creep over a surface like carnivorous vines in a sci-fi jungle movie, blossoming and branching organically (possibly randomly and possibly in response to some sort of environmental or programmatic stimulus). We then want to use a Wiimote or an infrared loaded gun to shoot “seeds” that will start this creeping and branching on a wall we project onto (or even onto a mannequin, so that the user experiences the full intended effect of producing life and beauty with a terribly deadly action). Think Genesis Device in everybody’s favorite Star Trek movieThe Wrath of Khan;

OR POSSIBLY: Create still, high-contrast vector images of the sorts of shapes we want and then mask them. Using Processing, we detect the edges of the various shapes and birth little alpha channel nibbling automata that follow them, turning our mask translucent as they follow the tendrils and their various branches, and rely on semi-random camera movement to mimic true organic generation;

OR MAYBE EVEN: Create many individual high-contrast creeping and branching tendrils as movies in After Effects and then remove their backgrounds and combine them dynamically in Processing (this option seems like it might not work for memory reasons once the number of simultaneous videos exceeds about four).

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