free association, thesaurus, zooming, entirety/detail, gestalt, organic,evolving,
architecture, topkapi palace, rhizomatic growth, infinite, time travel,
non-linear, the image work, search engines, internet surf, data visualisation,
3D navigation, 2D navigation, charts.
Panorama of environment
The aim of this project is to visually demonstrate my personal understanding
of the evolution of the computer generated "image work" ,
by means of a free associative process that utilises the search and query
mechanisms of the internet. I have tried to create a structure that displays
this process by showing the data gathered in detail as well as in its
entirety: Zooming in and out of objects and virtual navigation following
free associations that can be evoked through online thesauruses, internet
search engines and the ensuing surf mechanisms that can be utilised in
the act of image creation, very much like collage/assemblage. Thus, seeking
chance encounters and found objects, I turn not to second hand shops,
bookstores and discarded magazines and catalogs, but to the internet.
My process is inverted to that of collage in that it is the associations
themselves that reveal the found object and not the object that reveals
the associations .
am interested to find out what a structure composed of these interrelated
ideas and images will look like, whether it wil convey the overall content
and aim of the project when looked at from a distance, and the specifics
when looked at in proximity. I am differentiaiting between data visualisation
that carries as its primary goal the quick and accurate location of a
specific data within an overall structure without the user getting lost
 and my aims: I want the wiever to get lost, to wander from association
to association, to spend time, to zoom in and out and view entire chains
of associations as well as read the details.
Zooming in and out
Zooming has, of course, been used long before, in film. What makes zooming
interesting now, is that here we hand over the magnifying glass to the
user as a tool of interactivity. As we zoom into and out of virtual spaces
we encounter new levels of detail as well as view entire structures. Thus
the artist is faced with the challenge that distance and proximity work
equally well on one plane of perception, not just in certain instances,
as would be the case in film, but consistently, almost simultaneously.
One of the tasks that I have set myself here, is to investigate means
and methods of making this duality of detail/entirety work.
The timelessness involved in the process itself in the computer environment
continually fascinates me: Additions can be made to work at any time or
the original work be modified into new generations/mutations. Thus working
with a computer has an element of infinity, if not time travel, embedded
in it. This open endedness is known in the online art/design communities
on the internet as "tweaking". The young digital artists that
hang out in online communities such as deviantart will often write comments
about their own creative processes:
this is a cool
piece that i have completely forgotten about for months. i opened it
today, and was like 'fuck, thats good, why don't I tweak this?'
of image processing software will be very familiar with the unlimited
undo's and redo's of the history palette and that enable the artist to
traverse backwards and forwards in time, the ability to save many many
generations of the same work on the way, with absolutely no need of destroying
the original. This project does not wish to demonstrate this endlessly
regenerative nature of the computer generated image work itself. However,
in itself it demonstrates this process of constant regeneration: The 3D
charts that can be viewed on this page, when scrolled to the left, show
the status of the environment on January 25th and February 28th of this
year. Not only have things been added to the environment but building
blocks have changed and shifted. If such a 3D chart were to be made on
a monthly basis it would show how much the work changes as it progresses.
On the other hand, I have been diligently saving previous versions of
the work, and thus I am at liberty to go back and "tweak" any
one of them as the start of a totally new project or a different version
of the existent one.
one keyword, into the online thesaurus kicked off the project. I chose
the word “bridge” primarily because I use a bridge daily to connect
between work and home and thus a bridge is something that I already
have a lot of connections and associations with. I also decided to
use this particular word because I sensed it had the ability to generate
multiple associations from the start, which it did indeed fulfill,
immediately enabling me to choose multiple paths I could pursue.
generated for the word "bridge" were written into either
search engines or the thesaurus was used in the generation of further
associations that generated links. These links were followed not only
to obtain definitions, visual representations but also as a means
for generating further associations that in their turn generated even
further links and associations. These associations were frequently
tossed back into the online thesaurus: The online thesaurus works
in a character associative mode and thus some very strange associations
were tossed back at me: Typing the word “dragonfly” led me to “tragic
flaw” , or while searching for the definition of the word "Mesa"
I discovered that Mesa is an acronym for "Methyl Salicylate",
which is derived from the birch tree, the latin of which turned out
to be "Betula Lenta". Betula Lenta, typed into the thesaurus,
led me via a character association to "Beulah Land", which
in turn led me to "over the rainbow", which led me to "Judy
Garland", who as one of the texts in a website dedicated to her
had indeed had a "tragic flaw", which led me full circle
to a point that I had arrived at pursuing a completely different chain
of associations that had started out with moon > earth > magna
mater > cybele > dragonfly > tragic flaw. Choices were made
only based upon the material that was encountered during this search,
although unexpected combinations were used in preference to the more
mundane associations. As an example, a google search for “modus operandi”
led to a website that also had links relating to moon phases which
I immediately put to good use.
A synonym search
on the online thesaurus delivered unexpected results.
I could of course,
have determined upon a completely random kickoff point by using a
text generator software and I may still do this in the future. This
time I did not use the internet as a kickoff point for the search
but determined what that kickoff point would be myself - in a physical
environment, while I was on the Bosphorus bridge herself, returning
home after a long day at work. I did, of course, realize that the
word "bridge" would give me multiple associations and that
is why I chose it. Whether a word provided by a text generator will
provide the same possibilities remains to be seen in further incarnations
of this project. But once the chain of associations were underway
I found out that I moved from one word to the other in astounding
rapidity: "Bridge" led to bone via "bridge of nose",
which was an association that I would probably have made by myself
anyway. However that "bone" would lead to "process"
(see left image above), which in turn would lead to "modus operandi"
was entirely unexpected and it was those moments that made the search
a fascinating exercise.
As far as the word search was concerned I did not make any associations
outside of the internet. I did make personal associations when it
came to images and did not hesitate to use these. Thus, I "chose"
to go to the webmuseum to find an image that would represent "father"
or decided to look for Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson" as the
image for "Anatomy". However, these cases are isolated and
the bulk of the images used here are images encountered by an image
search. Conversely, some word associations also came from links that
the images were harvested from: "Planet halflife", which
led to "computer games" was found while searching for images
associated with "black mesa".
Starting out, I did not know what the visual manifestation of the
project would actually be. I am comfortable working with html and
thus my initial assumption was that I would collate all found visual
material in a hyperlinked 2D format. However, unlike most html pages,
I did not want the output here to be textual but images linked to
images. I also wanted the chain of associations to remain visible
and accessible in their entirety at all times.
Given that any 2D space which let me use only the x and y axes,
no matter how sophisticated in its hyperlinkage, was insuficient
to display the material, especially in its entirety, I turned
to navigable 3D environments. Initially I decided to build a maze,
one very much like a physical, architectural space. Although the
maze was exciting to walk through as well as pretty to look at,
and was thus a rewarding experience for the user, in terms of
the project's specifications I was no better off than in 2D: I
still had only the 2 axes, x and y in html, and x and z in the
The maze looked pretty and was easy to navigate but ultimately
Since every 3D object 6 sides I could generate 6 associations
out of each block and still be able to place most of them side
by side. This could only be done by utilising the x, y and z axes
equally and this led me to design a structure, built of rectangular
prisms, that stretches itself into all directions. I proceeded
to learn VRML and started assembling the environment according
to these specifications in that language.
There was a trade off in this: By relinquishing the architectural
structure; complete with floor, walls and sky, I also relinquished
the ease in navigation and user friendliness that this provided.
Due to its associative content, the environment started growing
organically which made the creation a cohesive whole far more
challenging than a preplanned structure would have. I gave up
all attempts to bring method to madness. Instead I decided to
go with the flow, following free association not only in content
but also structure and design.
Currently the environment can be walked through by using the interface
of the VRML viewer, using either the mouse or the keyboard arrows.
Alternatively there are animated viewpoints that can be accessed
in linear sequence. Both these methods are insufficient in achieving
non-linear navigation, which is integral to this project and hyperlinks
that join the blocks will be undertaken in future incarnations.
images used come from the internet. Except in a few cases, I used
the images as I found them, merely adding a typographic layer
containig definitions. Thus, the images cover a wide range of
styles and techniques, from digital wallpapers to archival photographs
and from charts to scientific illustrations.
The images cover a wide range from archival photographs to
Creating a Gestalt that would be unified as a whole, despite the
discrepancy of its parts, compounded by the organic architecture,
formed a major challenge . I tried to solve this problem by
embedding this material into replications of a single shape that
then formed a geometric pattern. I tried to provide further elements
that would enable a Gestalt with the manner in which I used environmental
colour and type:
The building block is a simple 3/4 aspect ratio horizontal
rectangular prism. The representative image is mapped, front
and back, on to each block. Rectangular prisms can be stacked
thus enabling the associations to be placed in an efficient
Stackable geometric primitives
of the images themselves, the colour scheme is neutral: The
rectangular prisms are a flat %80 transparent white and the
background a white to black gradient.
Neutral whites, greys and black
used a sans serif typeface (DIN), which is highly legible
since legibility was a major issue: The text would need to
be read in a 3D environment and would certainly undergo perspective
Legibility, even with distortion and perspective.
I also used type as a navigational aid, setting up directional
axes of type between nodes that were interrelated but could
not be stacked. These axes are not always fully legible, since
depending upon one's location they may be partially or even
wholly concealed by other objects or be under unfavourable
lighting conditions. I have however, tested them on numerous
users and found out that they do eventually manifest themselves
and prove to be a valid aid.
Type as a navigational aid.
Hardware restrictions aside, I do not envision a particular time when
this project will be completed or indeed that I should be the only one
working on it. As long as the interest in it holds up it can be endlessly
tweaked - by me or by others. It can keep on stretching itself into
its three axes and new chains of associations can be generated from
the existent ones. I have only followed a few paths and walked down
very few of the multiple branches that opened up to me. Many more are
left open ended to be gone back to at later dates, not just by me but
maybe by other users as well. So I will continue to add modules to this
version of the project as well as take steps to establish a community
I will also be working on new versions of the environment that will
investigate hyperlinks, layering of modules within modules, using transparency
and enriched zooming capability and also modules that contain motion
graphics/video or embedded interactivity.
I intend to investigate organic structures in both biology and architecture
in the hope of revealing parallels between these and the structures
of virtual 3D spaces. I specifically plan to examine the Topkapý Palace,
which is a stunning example of unstructured, evolutionary growth in
architecture, having evolved over 4 centuries by additions that did
not progress along a predefined plan but were added on as and when needed
. In doing this my objective will be to establish analogies and
crossovers between the organic architecture of the palace and virtual
3D spaces such as mine since both seem to grow with the passage of time
with no preset plans or guidelines and whether lessons from the former
may not be utilised in the creative processes of the latter. Yet another
area that I wish to carry out this research is the investigation of
biological/rhizomatic growth, which unlike the palace, does progress
along a predefined path but may give the appearance of haphazard, random
Finally, as I put this project together I encountered Gestalt theories,
both in relation to Psychology/Cognitive Science and Art/Architecture
Theory. These have interested me a great deal and that I feel that a
deeper knowledge in this field may benefit this project as well as future
research. Consequently I intend to embark upon further reading in Gestalt
theory in the months to come.
J. H. “The Imagery of Surrealism”. Contributors: Syracuse University
Press. Syracuse, NY. 1977. P: 4
W. C. “The Art of Assemblage”. Museum of Modern Art. New York. 1961.
 Chen, C.
Beyond the Horizon (2nd Edition). Springer Verlag. London. 2004. P:
Retrieved on 12/02/2006.
 Smith, P. F. "The Dynamics of Delight: Architecture and Aesthetics".
Routledge. New York. 2003. P: 5, 167
G. "Plans and Models in 15th- and 16th-Century Ottoman Architectural
Practice". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians,
Vol. 45, No. 3 (Sep., 1986) , pp. 224-243