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Topic: Software

Complexity Machine 1

You will find links below to download the first release of the software I've been developing for my thesis project. The name has been changed to Complexity Machine 1 as a symbol of the ongoing nature of the investigation of which it is a part. Though intense efforts have been put into its development, those who download the software should be aware that it is not suitable for general use. There are still many bugs and missing functionality and it will probably crash on you. This however should not stop you from exploring what the software can do.

At this stage Complexity Machine 1 is outputting a wide variety of strange forms:

Sample Output from CM1

These forms are intriguing for their strangeness and how they record quirky behavior of the agents interacting in simulated space. My question to those of you who are willing to explore is: how can you imagine this software could be used to create architecture? Consider it a kind of speculative Rorschach test. Perhaps you don't consider it useful at all, or feel it needs some some vital piece of functionality before it's useful. Any and all suggestions, criticism or bug reporting are appreciated.

When you first start the software, you will see two windows: the main window where the simulation takes place and a second window that contains the controls. Dragging the mouse in the main window orbits the scene, which will be familiar to those who have used other 3D software. The control window has notes on other camera manipulations that are also possible. At the top of the control window you will notice a series of buttons that switch between different sets of controls, called tabs. Clicking the controls button will reveal common controls that govern the action of the simulation. Clicking on the play button will start the simulation and clicking it again will pause it. Clicking reset will cause the simulation to revert to its initial starting state. The environment tab controls how the ground plane and sky are rendered. The flock tabs contain parameters that govern the behavior and appearance of each flock, or group of agents, in the simulation. Flocks can be added to the simulation by clicking the add flock button in the controls tab.

As a starting point in your exploration, I've included a couple of preset simulation configurations, which can be used by clicking the preset_1 or preset_2 buttons in the default tab. Try running these simulations and then go to the flock tabs and make some adjustments to see how the behavior of the agents changes.

As you explore the software, be aware that at any point you may capture images, video or 3D files of what is currently displayed in the main window. To do this click the appropriate button in the controls tab. These files will be stored in the folder that contains the software. Please email any images, video or 3D files you generate to me along with your comments.

Thank you in advance to those who offer their feedback about this project.

Download for: Windows, Mac or Linux

No real installation is necessary to run the software. Just download the appropriate version corresponding to your operating system, unzip the file and run the cm1 application in the folder. In order to run Complexity Machine 1, your computer must have Java installed (most do these days). In order to capture video, Quicktime must be installed. Please email me with any questions or technical difficulties you encounter.

Posted on 12:16 AM by westr015 Architecture Computation Design Grad School Software Thesis

Topic: Software

LED Screen Simulator

I've uploaded the software I made for the catalyst workshop, mentioned here. The file is a zip archive containing applications for windows, mac and linux, plus the source code. The application is a sort of single-purpose demo that I used for the presentation at the end of the workshop. It creates two LED screens that display a sequence of images, in this case a tv ad for Target and some graphics on the second screen commenting on the company (this data is for demo purposes only). To change the view in the application, use the arrow keys to rotate and the a and z keys to zoom in and out, respectively.

What may prove more useful - to someone - is the source code. The code was developed in Processing, a free and open source development environment geared toward artists and designers. Open the source code (led02.pde) in Processing and you'll find a generic object definition that can be used and extended in your own software.

This software was written as a quick hack for the workshop and is definitely not production quality. There is no warranty, support, etc. for this software. It is intended as a demonstration of a concept that may be useful to others developing similar software. Having said that, feel free to email if you have specific questions about it.


Posted on 1:46 PM by westr015 Architecture Computation Design Grad School Software

Topic: Software

Minnebar Conference

Join the twin cities hackerati at the upcoming "unconference", Minnebar. Sessions will range from new web technology standards, diy how-tos, social software, and more. You're also invited to host your own ad hoc session on the topic of your choice. Refreshments provided and best of all, it's free!


Posted on 11:42 AM by westr015 Computation Information Architecture Social Software Software Web Technologies

Topic: Software

SmartGeometry 2007

The SmartGeometry conference is coming up again, this time in New York on the 31st of Janurary, 2007. The most intriguing part of the conference from my perspective is the workshop that happens over the four days preceding the conference. If it's anything like last year's, which I assume it is, attendees will get a chance to play around with Bentley Systems' beta software GenerativeComponents. GenerativeComonents is an application for modeling in a parametric or associative way. A designer using the software develops a set of components and defines relationships between them, such that a change in one part of a design alters the rest accordingly. This means that one could set up a sun shade component that would change its angle when the building orientation changed, or panels that form the skin of a building could rotate or morph to meet a changing structural system. Essentially the application creates models that are themselves software applications, responding to changes in variables like dimension, orientation and material, until a satisfactory result emerges. Components can be modeled to exact physical dimensions to ease the transition to construction documentation. The software pushes the boundaries of what the industry calls "building information modeling" or "parametric modeling". This paradigm recognizes the fact that a building can be thought of as a database of inter-related parts. GenerativeComonents extends this paradigm by imbuing those parts with behaviors, allowing the design to self-organize based on conceptual rules.

I'd really like to try it out. The rub, as with most workshops like this, is cost. It runs $1500, not including room, board and airfare. How much do kidneys sell for on eBay these days? They are offering a few scholarships, so there is hope for those poor students wishing to attend and try out one of the prototypical digital playgrounds of the future.

Posted on 11:24 PM by westr015 Architecture Computation Design Software

Topic: Software

Google SketchUp Now Free

So the good folks at the software company formerly known at @Last keep getting friendlier. They've decided to offer a free version of their flagship product SketchUp. Even if you've never had any interest in 3D modeling before, SketchUp is worth a try. Beware, though, that you may come to waste many hours once you start it up.

Press Release

Posted on 12:05 PM by westr015 Architecture Computation Software

Topic: Software

Google Buys SketchUp

Big news in the 3D software arena: Google has purchased @Last Software, makers of the incredibly popular 3D design software SkethUp. @Last says that the acquisition won't affect how the company produces its software or deals with its customers, but that the deal will be a huge help in expanding the market for SketchUp.

Think about it this way: we haven't traded in the Honda for a Porsche; we've strapped a rocket to the Honda. SketchUp is still SketchUp, but now it will go places it couldn't possibly have gone before.
from SketchUpdate 03.14.06

@Last has answers to many questions about the sale on their website.

Posted on 2:22 PM by westr015 Architecture Computation Design Software

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