Bachelor thesis

 2018
“Vocabulary and Grammar of Interactive Swarms” is the title of my Bachelor thesis at the Weißensee School of Art and Design and investigated the creative potential of swarms: Which media, information and rules connect individuals to an organism that perceives and reacts collectively?
Virtual test series made it possible to systematically explore constellations and rules and examine their functional and aesthetic potential. A physical swarm of shining cones that can communicate with each other with light was developed as an example.

#javascript #vvvv #autodeskfusion360 #blender #arduino #particlephoton #kinematics #electronics #pcbmaking #3dprinting #cncmilling #lasercutting #colorandmaterial #photography #adobephotoshop #adobeillustrator #adobeindesign
theory and research
My thesis starts with a theoretical analysis of the factors that make interactive swarms. After extensive research, I concluded that interactive swarms are based on specific parameters of infrastructure, communication etc.
Based on the previously found swarm parameters, I designed a virtual environment with vvvv that allowed for the creation, observation and breeding of new swarms. This virtual petri dish allowed me to find their potentially useful qualities.
I also created a website in order to preserve the most notable breeds of swarms created in the petri dish environment together with their key traits. Check it out here.
confirmation
In order to confirm my theories and findings, I started to design a physical swarm based on everything I learned and discovered so far. This swarm’s task was to carry light from a bright area in its environment to a darker one by emitting light in the opposite direction of perceived light.
For initial test, I repurposed the lamps from my project Koïr. I equipped them with a modular battery pack that allowed them to be mobile and change their orientation relative to the environment’s light.
A motor with a weight can control the orientation of the swarm’s individuals. I programmed it to rotate when sensing brightness below a certain threshold, resulting in it positioning itself in the orientation that would satisfy the previously stated task.
The first prototype to test the components’ dimensions and impact on motion.
A prototype for developing the electronics including the light sensors and a particle photon.
Just like in the Koïr project, I designed and made custom PCBs and soldered all the components to them.
Since a swarm consists of many members, I built ten of them, since I felt that any less would not show the interactions typical for true swarms.
The finished light cones consist of many components, including 3dprinted ones, deep drawn diffusers and the PCB.
Fully assembled light cones.
This short movie documents the interactions with this swarm of light cones. The findings from this test run have been be evaluated in my Master thesis.
Simon von Schmude