Andrew Heumann released a new tool/toy/tweetbot called tweet2form today. While the bot is delightful in its own right, what I really want to highlight is the visual ouput of the process. Specifically, this image:
This image displays many layers of information, enough that much of the alogrithmic method can be teased out just by paying close attention. First, the use of small multiples shows each step in the generative process. Second, overlaid iconography reveals the details of each formal step. Finally, the animation itself shows these steps over a starting mass that is rotated through several degrees of freedom, revealing the possibilies inherent in the schema. Oh, and it’s also quite beautiful. Tufte should be proud.
If your process uses an algorithmic form-finding method than this level of clarity and openness should make you sit up straight and pay attention. Too frequently in digital work computation is used as a method of obfuscation rather than as a true extension of human extension. If you can’t explain what your script or definition is doing, and what it would do given a different set of inputs, the results are probably not worth discussing until you have figured it out. This kind of work is just a shot across the bow: the bar has been lifted.