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Our final project looked at writing a script that not only calculated distribution of water flows on a surface but then could find a series of retention walls that would divert water for a more desirable distribution of water volume on a surface. The definition, which runs through thousands upon thousands of possible iterations of wall distributions narrows on a number of optimal strategies.

the galapagos genome plug-in runs through thousands upon thousands of possible wall arrangements

final presentation poster

The following post describes another exploration dealing with lights and data collecting/managing/streaming. Since the last iteration, our project moved forward in two ways: (1) with the introduction of the arduino; (2) with the live recording/collecting of web data. So while painting with light remained of interest to the project, we also felt strongly about the incorporation of a live element, as we wanted to address issues of immediate translation of information.

For this exploration, Molly set up a framework in grasshopper (with a pachube component) that allowed us to capture text messages which were sent to a twitter account. We then created a simple binary alphabet which broke down each character into a set of points on a 4×3 grid.

The definition therefore retracted live data from pachube (text messages), broke it down into various parts, and then translated those into the newly created code allowing the arduino to describe the letters as a sequence of lights over time.

To spell out the text messages, we moved the entire apparatus in space (in a dark room) and using a long exposure we were able to capture the original text message by painting with light:

the resulting picture shows the text (15 sec exposure). [“money shot” an expression which was recently questioned at the a-school.]

This is our first light exploration which aims to simultaneously work with data management in excel as well as painting with light. The initial concept in dealing with lights, is that they might provide a new way of representation, one which can address the translation of dynamic systems, modes of operations or exercises that usually live in the virtual world. With this goal in mind, we set out to paint a path, which was formed over time by the simultaneous rotation of two interdependent circles in grasshopper. The definition connects two circles and moves them across a plane, at the same time two coordinates on each geometry are recorded to excel, thereby tracing a sequence of rotational movement.

Lights are mounted on a laser cutter , which is set in motion by the gh definition, the entire process is then recorded with a long exposure, thereby describing the spiral paths outlined in grasshopper with lights.

the resulting picture:

This is Beth B and Lauren!

We have been working with soil data and topographic data from GIS.  We used Microsoft Access to create a soil characteristics database, from which we exported xls files that we imported into grasshopper.  We were pretty excited about associating our DXF with the data, thanks to Charles!

We think we will move into more analytical/synthetic drawing and representation now — without dealing with data, for now, but potentially try to bring them back together toward the end.  We are working on creating a hypothetical topography, studying flows across the surface, and modifying water retention capacity through interventions (trees, weirs, retaining walls, etc). Given our limited Grasshopper expertise, we want to try as much as we can now!  And if we get back to the GIS data, great!


Another way that we have been exploring Grasshopper’s capabilities to gather & convert data into smart geometries is through Arduinos.  This definition utilizes real-time data collected light sensor to control a mechanism for opening and closing a surface.

This definition builds on Charles’ experiments with looping in Grasshopper through exporting and importing data with a spreadsheet.  In addition to providing control of a shifting quantity that grows + shrinks through time according to a rate, it builds a linear visualization of inflows and outflows that can be mapped through time.  The visualization implies a sectional quality that may be translated into a new understanding of landscape, potentially involving erosion+ accretion.

The definition works through a set of components called Ghowl, developed to allow Grasshopper to communicate with Open Office (the open source version of Excel)


First the definition activates a timer that controls the input of data into a sequential set of spreadsheet cells.  The cells hold the data so that Grasshopper can reference it as the timer progresses – this allows for a “loop” to occur without crashing GH.

The data collected from the spreadsheet is then returned to GH and converted from a data set to a geometric visualization.

How might a discrete constructed object sit within a 3d tesselation and perform multiple functions: direct water, retain water, allow infiltration, become a curb, a bench, a mailbox?  All through placement and scale of each individual component of the system. A new multi-functional mini-dam, or a weir.

Now that we have explored how to create a tesselation of a discrete object in 3 dimensions with Robin’s help, we have decided to explore how to determine the form of that object by taking it through a series of experiments.  Using rainfall data and a set of simplified topography, we will first model the water and ground conditions of a site and then use that to test the reaction of a form to determine the form most fit for the purpose.

Our group is composed of Andrea Parker, Julia Price and Michael Levy

Charles and I are looking to creating a set of psychogeographic maps – likely building off early explorations of the location of well heads – to express a sense of place by  distorting a reading of Cartesian cartographic space.

We plan to use surfaces to explore this distortion, rather than the curves+points approach attempted earlier in mappings of time compression in Europe.

I’m working with Andrea and Beth on a definition that imports GIS data for topography and soil types.  I anticipate that my contribution for the rest of the semester will be in two primary parts:

1. representation
Series of representations of surface:
– soil retention capacity
– particle size
– gradient and aspect

2. intervention: animating and amending
slider: soil retention topography
particle variation and subsequent surface/retention manipulations (trees, impervious surfaces, retaining walls)