Ralf Baecker

Putting The Pieces Back Together Again

The kinetic installation “Putting the Pieces Back Together Again” is a complex system with self-organizing and emergent behaviour, at the same time it is an artistic inquiry and meditation on contemporary scientific methodology. The installation investigates non-hierarchical communication and collective behaviour by implementing such a system physically through many electro-mechanical actors.
The Installation consists of 1250 stepper motors arranged in a two dimensional grid of two by two meters. Each motor is equipped with a pointer made from white acrylic glass. The radii of the pointers are chosen to intersect with the pointers of its neighbours. All motors are excited with the same alternating current that let them move initially in a random direction. Each actor is at the same time sensing its environment. In the event of a collision the pointers reverse their turning direction. This is achieved through a custom motor control circuit. Through the interplay of many entities a complex behaviour emerges on the surface of the installation. By manipulating the signals during runtime the system will form spontaneous pattern on its surface. It seems like they are negotiating it’s position with nearby actors. By this the system is showing behaviour of self-organization. The installation drifts through various activation levels during its run time by this it constantly evolves new formations and constellations (crystallization).