Monday, May 17, 2010


Hyphae is my most recent work, made with Michael Broxton: a representational algorithmic work in new media.

Inspired by the generative structures of nature and the algorithmic models that can describe them, Hyphae is an interactive video floor that responds to the participants' presence. Mycelia systems grow at their feet in a projected image of dirt while color swirls around them.

DNA can be conceived as a molecular program and an organism's life the process of executing that incredibly complex program. We can see the process of plant or fungal growth as a series of iteration and recursion. While a narrow way to think about growth, it has inspired the algorithmic drawing and behavior of this project.

Hyphae are tubular filaments of mycelium, the metabolic part of a fungus. Mycelia growth patterns such as those imitated for Hyphae can be modeled and studied with fractals, and closely resemble Diffusion Limited Aggregation fractals. Scientist use fractal analysis to describe the behavior of mycelium:
“Fungal mycelia are iterative and modular structures with different branching strategies according to the nature of the substratum and abundance of nutrients... The calculated fractal exponent is a good descriptor of mycelia branching and growth. In nutrient poor environment, the fractal exponent describes foraging type of mycelia branching due to explorative growth strategy (between D= 1.14 and 1.32) while in nutrient rich environment it describes the exploitative growth strategy (between D=1.62 and D=1.89) (Branching Patterns in Fungal Hyphae During the Colonization of Quercu Cerris and Quercus Petraea Litter, by Ecaterina Fodor, Teusdea Alin, Haruta Ovidu).”

Additionally, “...Mycelia differentiate to form a complex interconnected network having a modular and iterative nature (Gooday, 1995)”

The programming for Hyphae imitates this modular and iterative nature and adds behavior algorithms that causes the separate mycelium systems to grow toward other systems, so when people stand on the floor, they grow connections to each other.

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