the "point creatures" that make up the Loops piece
is a behavioral "script". This 10-minute script
(which is looped throughout the piece) does not dictate what
behaviors these creatures perform, but it does modify "behavioral
tendencies" and opportunities for adaptation.
The creation of the Loops piece, therefore, consisted
of two main tasks. First, a vocabulary of visual styles, behaviors,
ways of connecting the points and motion qualities needed to
be created. Second, the script, an excerpt of which is shown
here, was assembled. Both of these two tasks were achieved collaboratively
and interactively. While a version of the Loops system was running,
the artists manipulated the rendering, visualized the behavior
and modified the stored vocabulary of the point creatures in
real time using a network of computers synchronized to the main
Throughout the script there are references to terms such as
"tendral" or "amoeba". These are names
that the artists used to talk about the basic stylistic vocabulary
built for the piece. They refer to behavioral tendencies, connection
topologies and/or rendering styles. These common labels became
increasingly important as the piece's stylistic vocabulary
By changing how gradually or suddenly new behavioral tendencies
are introduced into the creatures by the script we can modify
the abruptness of the transition. If we quickly force a behavioral
tendency to have a very high value we startle creatures into
revaluating their behaviors. But by gradually introducing new
behavior we can create hybrid and "indecisive"
states in the colony.
The creatures are responsible for showing how they are connected
to other points. Sometimes they choose to connect themselves
to points that make sense in a traditional joint hierarchy.
However, they can choose to produce complex "cat's
cradles" or sparse points.
The way in which the point creatures adapt their geometry to
indicate how they are "connected" to other points
change throughout the piece. One of the earliest styles we built
was the "tentative tendril" growth style, where
points seem to be gently seeking nearby points in the hand.
"Force propagation" refers to the virtual dispersive
medium that the point creatures are "embedded in".
Creatures can inject force into what is in essence a simple
cloth simulation, to perturb and expand the geometry of nearby
"Forest fire" message propagation refers to a complex
extension of the "force propagation". Instead of
passing force into a simple physics simulation, points pass
messages of behavioral tendency. This creates a deliberately
brittle positive feedback system. Behaviors change between points
in a way similar to how fire spreads in a forest. These complex
behavioral dynamics were extensively simulated in isolation
and could be visualized while the piece was running.