[ISEA2022] Paper: Alexandre Saunier, Chris Salter, Julien Vermette, Alexandre Quessy, Simon Demeule, Ursula J’vlyn d’Ark, Puneet Jain & Sofian Audry — autonomX—Real Time Creation/Composition with Complex Systems


Full Paper. Session: Humans and NonHumans / Complexity Research and Practice

Keywords: Complex systems, machine agency, software instrument, artificial life, cellular automata, neural networks, temporal dynamics

autonomX is an “open source desktop application [that] allows multimedia artists and students to easily and quickly experiment with lifelike processes via a graphical interface in order to generate dynamic, emergent and self-organizing patterns and output these patterns via OSC to control light, sound, video, or even robots in real time” .

The article begins by presenting the background that motivated the production of autonomX. In particular, we describe some histories of artistic and lighting practice involving stochastic systems and the role of vitality in the time-based arts.
We follow with the presentation of the three core design paradigms of autonomX: generator, signal, and drawing. The generators are the algorithmic encapsulation of complex dynamical systems (systems that model the temporal evolution of a deterministic set of parameters) in a format that gives rapid and intuitive access to their parameters, without resorting to coding, and visualizes the inner workings of these algorithms on a 2-dimensional lattice. The generators send and receive time varying signals from the implemented algorithms in real time, making the system appropriate for temporal expression and interaction with any computer-driven media. The manipulation of signals is made intuitive to the user by drawing directly on the visualization lattice so that they can easily specify which parts of the system serve as signal inputs and outputs.
The article then gives an overview presentation of the current version of the software by discussing the main elements of its interface.

Finally, we offer a discussion on concrete artistic creations with complex systems that led to the development of autonomX and on the results of an online workshop held during ISEA2020 in which participants discovered the first prototype of the software. https://github.com/Xmodal/autonomX

  • Alexandre Saunier is a multimedia artist and PhD Candidate at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. His research addresses the intersection between artistic creation with light, autonomous systems, and sensory perception. His artistic work is regularly presented in international festival such as Mutek, Bcn_Llum, Impakt, and Festival de la Imagen.
  • Chris Salter is an artist, full professor of computation arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and Co-Director of the Hexagram network for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology, also in Montreal. His work has been seen all over the world at such venues as the Venice Architecture Biennale and Barbican Centre among many others. He is the author of Entangled (MIT Press, 2010) and Alien Agency (MITP, 2015). His new book Sensing Machines will appear from MIT Press in March 2022.
  • Julien Vermette
  • Alexandre Quessy
  • Simon Demeule
  • Ursula J’vlyn d’Ark
  • Puneet Jain
  • Sofian Audry