E4.5: Emergent effects

“There should be some uncontrollable aspects of the work.”

Silvia Kolbowski, A conversation with Sylvia Kolbowski (2014)

“If you have two or three things moving in relationship to each other, lets say by chance, and they are cycling around, you can tell there’s going to be emergent effects that are going to happen.”

Bruce Jenkins on Paul Sharits, Out of the Dark (2009)

“Traditional computer animation is non-linear. The animator tweaks and adjusts everything by going back and forth between different states of the animation. Thus, he (sic) is in control of the outcome. When simulating, however, the animator gives up control by outsourcing several tasks to the computer. The computer executes these tasks based on calculations and outputs a linear simulation result. The animator interacts with the computer and is in control only to a certain degree. Animating like this feels like real-life filmmaking: Like a real actor, the computer follows the action set by the animator and produces results that are unexpected, realistic, broken and personal. Accordingly, the focus shifts from outcome to process. The animator is left with the challenge to find the right balance between staying in control and leaving room for randomness.

Animation in Ugly is a combination of puppeteering and dynamic computer simulation and varies between physically accurate and broken. The Ugly characters are ragdolls built from interconnected dynamic body parts. To enable the characters to interact with the environment, the body parts are fixed to animated controllers via simulated strings.”

Nikita Diakur on Ugly (2017) European Film Academy

TASK: As a starting point, research the work of Nikita Diakur, Silvia Kolbowski or Paul Sharits. Reflect on their creative approach, working process, tools and motivation.
Extend this research by developing your own generative system to create your own test animations. For example, by testing out these artists’ approach within your own work. Take the opportunity to explore and challenge what is creatively possible with your choice of animation software or identify and test ‘uncontrollable’ elements in your work.