Flux: Computer Generated Animation. Copyright 1992 Jon McCormack.

FLUX is a procedural animation, created by L-System rules. The rules themselves were evolved interactivly with the computer. The motion, colour and shape of the objects shown is completely procedural - they were not planned or predicted by the human creator.

The theme of the work was to try to represent the notion of 'flow' in an abstracted, algorithmic sense. Many sorts of flows exist in nature: water, air, heat, inductance, fields. I wanted to extract the essential logical rules of these phenomena and represent them visually in an abstracted sense, in a similar way as scientists use scientific visualisation to better understand 'hidden' phenomena.

The animation is rule based. Rules are specified within the language which control, colour, motion, shape and behaviour. The computer executes the rules based on an initial state. The internal state is converted to three dimensional geometric models which are rendered by the machine to create the images. What is seen on the computer screen interactivly is rough approximation to what finally appears in the video animation, which takes many weeks of computer time to render.

Technically, the piece combines two popular artificial life techniques, that of cellular automata and L-Systems. The resulting behaviours and motions the result from these techniques could not be predicted before the simulation is run. Thecomplexity emerges.

The rules which describe the system are around 500 bytes long, yet the data complexity of the models generated is 1,000,000 times that of the rules that created them. This is known as data-base amplification, and it works much the same way as the genetic material of organic life is the 'blueprint' for the resultant being.

All procedural software was written by Jon McCormack. The animation was rendered with Wavefront Technologies Advanced Visualizer software.


This work was produced with the assistance of the Australian Film Commission. In particular I would like to thank Gary Warner for his support. I am also grateful toWavefront Technologies for supplying their visualisation software, under their Independent Artist Program. Animation and computing facilities were provided by CIPAG, Monash University.

Sections of Flux are also included in TURBULENCE and Above and Beyond, produced for the ACTVF, for the ABC Television series Lift Off.

Here is a brief Quicktime movie (4.18Mb) from the animation.

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Jon McCormack