Inspiring Technological Art: “Simple Harmonic Motion” and “Reducible Complexity”

“Simple Harmonic Motion”, named after the relatively simple physics of periodic motion discussed in most introductory physics courses, is a research project/series of artworks created by Memo Akten. The project consists of several videos, each one exploring a different way of presenting the strange geometric effects that are created when a group of objects adjacent to each other oscillate at slightly different frequencies. For example, in the video embedded above, the speed at which the beads rise and fall depends on their position in the ring (beads farther back oscillate slower than those at the front). From this basic rule, incredible visual and musical complexity arises.

Similarly, “Reducible Complexity” also by Memo Akten, experiments with the same ideas as “Simple Harmonic Motion”. In “Reducible Complexity”, a intricate and beautiful system arises from a set of simple geometric rules. The patterns that emerge are visually similar to a eye, a hurricane, clockwork – all systems with incredible complexity.

These two works have been a huge source of inspiration for my own work because of the way that they can explore these huge ideas by taking advantage of one of the strengths that computers have as an expressive medium: the ability to take a few rules and iterate them repeatedly.

Both projects were created completely with code. Most of the Simple Harmonic Motion videos were created with OpenFrameworks, and Reducible Complexity (the real time in-browser version) was made with Javascript using WebGL.

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