Serendipity on a Plate

Serendipity on a Plate

Michael Johansson (Kristianstad University, Sweden & PRAMnet, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3822-6.ch023
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This article will present and discuss the design thinking, methods, processes and some examples of work that demonstrates how, together with different co-creators, one sets up a work practice using digital 3d objects and images. That in different ways and formats helps us to explore how a database, a set of rules can be used in a dialogue with artistic work practice and how such a process can be used to create images and animation in a variety of design and art projects. The main example is a project called Conversation China that still is in its making, here one works with rather complex processes, involving several digital analogue techniques as the basis for creating the images for a 150 pieces porcelain dinner set. The author's interest in this work is how the intention of the artist or designer is transferred and later embedded in the procedural or algorithmic process and how this intent is organized and set up to secure an desired outcome, mixing the possibilities of the digital media object with manual editing and artistic craftsmanship. What this article tries to put forward is how we designed and set up environments for working with non linear and procedural media, their different expressions and forms by using explorable prototypes and design thinking?
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Four Projects

Already in early 90’s when I worked with a Swedish company Advisors to improve visual representations in a virtual reality setting for cognitive therapy using advanced computer graphics system provided by Silicon Graphics and Softimage. I became familiar with the visual qualities and rendering techniques of virtual objects and 3d worlds. During these experiments I became interested in how to put together different 3d objects from a database into complex spatial configuration to improve the overall immersion and of the virtual world itself. In this process, errors in compiling the different objects created stunning visual results and led me into creating a system for randomly explore a limited database of 3d objects. The project was called VET, Vacuum Extropia Theory. The project was supported by the Swedish art council and presented at an exhibition. In VET the idea was by animation, cluster different 3d objects and use a virtual camera to automatically explore 3d environments and worlds (see Figure 1), in theory, algorithms are repeatable and should produce identical results every time, but by stressing implementation and limitations of software and the computer itself I intentionally caused and looked out for errors and flaws that produce interested visual expressions.

Figure 1.

Image vsfär 197 from VET



At that time the tools still where very simple and the different outputs from the computer where limited. I could clearly see that the software I used, and still do could produce good visual results, but to achieve the kind of complexity I was looking for I knew I had to be patient and to spend time to build all the models I needed. So in parallel I started to write scenarios and simulate various computer programs never written, as a ground for visual exploration in a series of paintings

Here you can manufacture a world for its future inhabitants in a couple of hours, since it will not take you any longer to enter BOOM into your computer. In the years to come the program will undoubtedly have a great influence, especially upon the thinking and lifestyle of man. The principal reason for this is the fact that the concepts and methods of the program are so tantalizing and accessible. What you do is that you provide a data memory with a set of facts, and then you load this memory with mathematical data. There are an infinite number of parameters to set for the user. Everything from the way in which the cholesterol level of a certain president will develop during a certain period of time to the background radiation of the universe.


The city of Abadyl has been described and written about in several articles and papers before, and is today my main art project where I conduct most of my work. The city of Abadyl is created and constantly re-generated by using the lack of information as a resource for worldmaking. By providing ambiguous fragments as a starting point, it serves as a vital part in the creation of a space where we can be in a constant dialogue with, a large database of material that is interlinked through the architecture of a city, regardless of its incompatibilities. That space is a continuously evolving platform for staging both immediate and long-term projects. The method establish a multidisciplinary common ground for a art practice, interaction design and technology development, through an investigation of philosophy and criticism in a dynamic material. The approach is to create an environment which facilitates artistic work practice in complex production environments such as those of digital media, supporting invited artists, researchers, companies, and students. We establish a ready-made, fictitious gravity well that others can easily transfer their knowledge into. Abadyl is all about using a generative logic that both limits and expands creativity (Boden, 1997). The fundamental parameters of this logic guide what can and cannot be included in a fictional but plausible universe. Our concern is not so much with a consistent, watertight universe, but rather what can be generated inside a framework of a large number of predetermined real and fictitious parameters.

Figure 2.



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