Collective Morphology
Eunsu Kang & R. Hoetzlein

Human collaboration is often very different from other examples of natural collaboration. Integrated circuits and robots are all examples of complex, collaboratively built systems whose purposes are often known before they are constructed. The constructions of social insects such as the nests of termites, wasps and ants, however, may not have an explicit mental goal but instead result from the localized activities of individual members [Hoffmeyer 1995]. Termites deposit pellets, then build columns, and finally connect these columns with arches - all without any concept of the nest as a whole.. With Collective Morphology, we reveal an aesthetic exhibit which allows participants to explore and create emergent forms directly.

Visitors surround a circular table with an outer illuminated ring. When a hand or arm is extend over the table, an overhead projection displays particles as if they were emitted from the hand. These particles, coming from multiple users anywhere around the table, cause a central spherical form to grow or shrink selectively based on this collective interaction. The form thus evolves and changes over the duration of the exhibit. In this way, we seek to explore how purposeful and playful interaction combine to produce intellectual forms - forms constructed through intelligent collaboration.