A couple of years ago, I have watched a promotion video of a generative audio and video installation project ‘Conus‘ created by Dmitry Morozov. It was intriguing to me since the project based on the use of a computational theory which is so-called cellular automata.

According to Wikipedia, a cellular automaton is a discrete model studied in mathematics, computational theory, physics, theoretical biology and micromechanics. It includes a regular lattice of cells, each of which can be in one of a finite set of states, such as 1 and 0. The lattice may have any number of dimensions. For each cell, there exists a subset of cells, called ‘neighbourhood’. Thus, a neighbourhood may be defined as all cells at a distance of no more than 2 from the current one. To operate a cellular automaton, there is required a specification of an initial state of all cells, and rules of transition of cells from one state to another. New conditions for each cell are being determined at each iteration, using the state transition rules and the neighbour cells. Typically, the transition rules are the same for all cells and are applied immediately to the entire lattice.

The installation consists of five shells that attached to an individual rotate platform, and DIY microscopes analyze patterns of shells. Those analyzed image data are transformed into control signals for the synthesis and video. The visual images and sound by themselves represent the cellular automata. The concept of cellular automation has been used for algorithmic art for years, but the project’s approach to form a direct relationship between biological and digital systems was really impressive and also potential.