The project explores the organizational principles of muscle cells. The muscle cell's fundamental units is the sarcomere, along, fibrous protein that slide past its neighbors when the muscles contract and relax. Through the simple act of changing its length, the millions of sarcomeres provide the body with infinite forms of movement. Our project uses the logic of individual agents slightly changing their lengths (in relation to their neighbors) in response to an external stimulus and the agent's neighbors. Additionally, after an agent is moved by his neighbors, a factor of the distance moved is used to increase the agent's strength (how much he will move his neighbors) as well as his threshold (how far way to consider an other agent a neighbor). In this way, the muscle agents are building their strength with each flex. As the agents increase their strength and threshold, at a certain point the muscle tears. At this moment the individual agent looses his strength, but populates the organization with new agents, thereby increasing the overall strength of the population.
One of the main variables we tested was the starting organization of the agents. Different muscle types configure sarcomere's differently and in doing so tailor the muscle to its specific function. As we tested various arrangements we became very interested in the way the organizations were effected by symmetry. In the below examples, the starting stimulus ( the calcium ion of the sarcomere logic) is placed perfectly within the center of the organizations. Early iterations will always remain very symmetrical , however, as small changes in length build up and the organization gains strength, noise within the system radically destroys the initial symmetry. The images below show moments when the organizations start to lose their symmetry, quickly accelerating towards chaos.
design team : thomas heltzel & margaret zyro
ENCODED MATTER, GSAPP 2012
Instructor : Ezio Blasetti