DigiTale: Blots and Splinimals

DigiTale: Blots and Splinimals
Marjan Colletti (2003).

William Bateson noticed that whenever genetic mutations occurred, they occurred in a symmetrical, yet monstrous fashion. Symmetry, in genetics – a term he invented – was thus merely a basic morphological, default organisational setup to be applied in cases of disinformation. On the contrary to evolutional strength, such mutated symmetry is perceived as monstrous, perhaps due to the fact that it is a signal of genetic loss of information. Information, on the other hand, was regarded as an agent preventing symmetry towards heterogeneous growth – or rather, it prevents homogeneous, monstrous growth by breaking simple symmetric organisations towards more complex, structured systems. This concept of symmetry-breaking is a widely discussed and researched topic, for example within quantum physics. In architecture, innumerable attempts have been made to get to grips with compositional issues dealing with symmetry and symmetry-breaking rules. In fact order, proportions, geometric and mathematical relationships, have been fundamental to architectural oeuvres for millennia, from the Greek to the Renaissance to Postmodernism and parametric design. In painting, symmetry was considered reminiscent of a heavenly perfection, while in architecture it has been exploited from the very ancient cultures up to today to signify accomplishment, order and power. Basic symmetry operations are reflection, rotation, double reflection and translation. Such operations allow the creation of complex figures as seen in carpets, Romanesque and Gothic rose windows, and more generally in ornamental art.

[Image: Different friendly and monstrous faces and Splinimals emerge from symmetry and projection relations, by Marjan Colletti (2003)].

In the animal kingdom, symmetry is intrinsically perceived as a sign of beauty, health and strength, since symmetric shapes give clues about the immunological vigour and evolutional rigour of the animal, and act as attractor to the opposite sex. Yet on the contrary, also on a genetic level, symmetry can designate a lack of information. In psychology, symmetry is used in various tests in order to analyse and assess the patient’s personality and mental illness and his or her impulsive, intuitive and reflexive interpretative facilities. The best-known test, named after Hermann Rorschach, uses ten abstract, symmetric, coloured inkblots, which are kept unpublished and secret. It is considered a ‘psychological projective test of personality’ because it demands that the patient projects his or her real personality through the act of interpreting the ambiguous, amorphous and structureless blots. Thus while Lynn’s blebs, blobs and meta-balls deal with the evolutionary aspects of symmetry breaking towards the definition of informational complexity, I propose blots to expose in their symmetry mimetic aspects of involutionary interpretative projection. Unlike NURBS and surface-based blobs – entities that present volumetric qualities – spline-based blots are mere 2D drawings. Nevertheless, because of the mimetic, reflective implications of the symmetric twin-blots, they may be regarded as 2&½D.

Here, symmetric adaptation of abstract renderings of the viscous and furry intraface, reveal, with the same intensity as Rorschach blots, faces, bodies, animals, ghosts, inhabiting that intermediate space of intrafaces. Bounded within this projective feedback system, these Splinimals inhabit the space of the Mystérique.

[Images: Friendly and monstrous Splinimals (tiger, lion, leopard and others) resulting from symmetry and projection of rendered images of the viscous and furry intraface, by Marjan Colletti (2003)].

'Splinimals’ can best be described as a crossbreed – between splines and animals – that inhabit the domain of digitally constructed space. Hybrid entities as they are, Splinimals can be understood as quintessential ‘animate forms’, a term of course borrowed from Lynn. As he suggests, the term animation ‘implies the evolution of a form and its shaping forces; it suggests animalism, animism, growth, actuation, vitality and virtuality’. Splinimals possess all these animate characteristics, and owing to their splinear traits, they are on the whole amenable, docile and easily approachable. It isn’t surprising that mankind needs to relate to inanimate matter as well as to animate forms: exotic animals, pets, soft toys, cartoons, robots, virtual monsters and so on have already been domesticated and adopted into our everyday cognition, enhancing reality with many layers of fiction and emotional narrative. In a very similar manner, the computer has become so docile that it has turned into a soft toy – the archetypical entity of docility and animism.

[Image: Friendly and monstrous faces and splinimals (tiger and leopard), resulting from symmetry and projection of rendered images of the viscous and furry intraface, by Marjan Colletti (2003)].
Since intrafaces are bounded within a feedback system that entails digitality as well as the individuality of the designer, it is not surprising then that splinimals appear in these drawings that draw a cross-section through the convoluted field established by the intraface. Appear, or at least are revealed to me personally through my mimetic faculty to read figurative designs within seemingly abstract patterns. But it is exactly this mimetic faculty that summarises, in my opinion, how digital properties are project back by the intraface (revolution).

[Image: Friendly and monstrious faces and Splinimals (samurai and other masked warriors) resulting from symmetry and projection of rendered images of the viscous and furry intraface, by Marjan Colletti (2003)].
The experiments reveals splinimals appearing in symmetric blots. Two 2&½D convoluted fields collide - an analogy for the intricacy of the human’s and the system’s domain. Different faces with different expressions appear: or at least, abstract assemblages become figurative entities through a mimetic process. The same happens on symmetric patterns, that represent an analogy for multi-bounded intrafaces, for example between digital, analogue, and manufacturing processes.

[Images: the emergence of Digital Splinimals, by Marjan Colletti (1999)].