Software System

OSX control app

The challenge of developing nonlinear interactive systems in my work has led me to the ongoing development of a software framework, called WorldMaker Universe (WMU). The inspiration for the development of WMU was to provide a strong connection between the hardware, software, and conceptual components of my research in order to maintain a fluid connection between the virtual and physical aspects of my work [1]. The framework facilitates the creation of expressive and emergent behaviour in interactive installation environments by encapsulating common use elements of the software design of interactive environments into a ready to use set of abstractions. The organization of this framework is based on a model of nonlinear narrative that is a composite of operations (data generators), structures (scaffolds for data flow), and personae (the interactive input and output representation of data). Each of these elements can vary independently of each other. Many of the concepts and terminology that help define this framework are taken from design patterns, as used in computer science, such as those found in Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software [2]. This system proved beneficial in the development of the behavioural aspects of the work described above.

raspberry pi control app

The software was developed using OpenFrameworks a C++ framework for the development of computational art [3]. OpenFrameworks facilitated the deployment of the software on multiple platforms, which proved beneficial for both prototyping and dissemination. One of the challenges of the work was the duration of the install (collectively for a year from September 2013 - August 2014). This meant that there would need to be a central control system for the installation that was robust but affordable. Another issue during this period was difficulty in travelling to the museum on a regular basis to update and monitor the piece. Therefore a software workflow was developed for the installation that included simulation, behavioural design, and deployment in the same code base. For speed and convenience a simulation and design version was developed for the Apple Mac, which allowed for development of the behavioural patterns remotely (fig. 8). And despite the vast differences between these the computing platforms, the deployment target platform was a RaspberryPi Model B [4], which was low cost and had a small form factor. The software workflow was effective, but didn’t entirely alleviate the need to travel to the museum for refinements of the system. Currently efforts are being made to connect the two platforms over the Internet so that updates can be made to the system without being onsite. A significant technical challenge, and assuming it is solved it will allow for newer topologies that will effect the dissemination of this and newer artworks, such as telematic interfacing between users and the work, and the work with other works.

[1]  see Hosale, MarkDavid. 2008. Nonlinear Media As Interactive Narrative. Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara.
[2]  Gamma, Erich, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides. 1995. Design Patterns : Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.