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Mark Stock

University of Michigan
Michigan, USA
mstock@umich.edu
turbulence_ infinite_p21c
48" x 24"

Artist Statement: I enjoy using computer simulations of natural and artificial phenomena to visualize patterns created from either the isolation of a particular dominant force or the interplay between co-dominant forces. An advantage of working with computer models for these physical systems is the availability of data for any component of the system: effectors or inerts can be made visible, temporal and spatial dimensions can be swapped, and non-physical projections of data can be created. New patterns can be explored by nearly any combination of forces or projections. The aim of my work is the creative exploration of this space.

In these pieces I attempt to illustrate the unseen depth and complexity of fluid turbulence and the difficulty in recreating it's effects on a computer. Though it is an essential physical phenomenon, humans are surprisingly ill-equipped to visualize the structure or grasp the sheer ubiquity of turbulence. My choice to instantiate the transient vortex cores as solid cylinders is an attempt to understand it's structure as well as to conceptualize it's depth. Creating a feeling of depth and realism requires not only a computationally-intensive interreflection calculation, but extreme detail using not textures, but real geometry.

In these simulations, turbulence is represented by segments of a long line, each segment representing the mathematical "vortex core" of a local packet of fluid. In this way, a turbulent flow can be represented more compactly by its vorticity, and not its velocity. The motions that evolve the path of these vortex lines are a product of computer simulations of vorticity dynamics. In vorticity dynamics, each segment of each vortex line induces motion in every other segment in the simulation. The schemes designed to make this sort of calculation computationally tractable are called vortex methods.

Ultimately, each image is a photometrically-accurate computer rendering of a tangle of these vortex lines. Special oversampling and filtering operations are performed in order to create the most detailed image possible. This image is then output to a Lightjet digital printer, which exposes photographic paper with a laser after internally upsampling the image to 4000 dpi.