re-new 2013, Digital Arts Forum
festival curator Edward A. Shanken,
conference chair Gunalan Nadarajan and
steering committee chair Lars Graugaard.
October 28 - November 3
at PB43, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Homunculus Alpha (h.α) exists as a single sculptural body that spans 1.25 meters in diameter and is suspended approximately 78 centimetres from the ground. The form of Homunculus Alpha has an organic quality consisting of four petal-like limbs, but was designed as an algorithmically generated form as part of a file-to factory digital fabrication process that involved generative modelling, CNC milling, and casting of a fibre-glass endoskeleton. The fibre-glass endoskeleton is translucent and coated with a flesh-like clear rubber skin that is embedded with lights causing it to glow, and with sensors that make it responsive to a person’s touch. In addition to lights and sensors, loudspeakers are embedded in the body of Homunculus Alpha, giving a musical voice to its behaviour. The generative logic its behaviour is executed by an embedded RaspberryPi computer that interfaces with an Ardiuno variant microcontroller known as a nD::node.
When unattended, or simply observed, Homunculus Alpha exhibits a continuous flow of ever-changing flow of light patterns and sound events, which are an expression of the life-cycles that make-up the generative logic of the work. The life-cycle behaviour of Homunculus Alpha consists of a continuous cycle of high and low energy activity that mimics resting and wake rhythms in living beings, which is informed by an accumulation of input stimulation from people who touch its skin.
When someone touches the flesh-like skin of the Homunculus Alpha by petting or stroking, it responds with a display of localized light activity near the location of contact and with a corresponding sound. This display is the expression of pleasure that starts as a localized event, but soon dissipates throughout the body of Homunculus Alpha merging with the oscillating life-cycles of its behaviour. Each petal-like limb is stimulated independently from another allowing for several people to interact with the work simultaneously.
The name of the project Homunculus derives its name from an alchemically made creature that looks like a miniature of its creator. The inspiration of the work is to explore the emotive connections we form with the technological objects we make. I believe we form these connections because the technology we make is part of our ideas, our culture, and our bodies. But as we pass on the technology remains, it holds our thoughts, and the shape we give to it is deeply connected to our time and the way we perceive the world. To further deepen this connection Homunculus Alpha is an interactive sculptural object that is intended to exhibit an affordance of play. This is achieved through the multisensory expression of the Homunculus Alpha’s simple animal-like behaviour through the modalities of sound, motion, and light; and through response to the caresses on its flesh-like body when being touched. The experience of interacting with Homunculus Alpha like communing with an affectionate creature that expresses itself through a visual-musical language. A petting zoo of an alien creature, which is emergent from the explorers mind.