Stewart Dickson
23115 Bluebird Drive
Calabasas, CA  91302

October 12, 1995

Project Proposal:

A Three-Dimensional, Kinetic Cellular Automaton

document source:

< >


The artist proposes a kinetic sculpture which is intended to transcend the idiom of contemporary computer art as well as that of traditional kinetic sculpture. The piece calls for the development of new technology in order to realize an artistic vision.

The piece will be constructed from a large number of very small, identical programmable cells. The cells are processor/memory cells as well as being able to detect and transmit electromechanical, audio and light energy. The piece will therefore have the ability to move and to interact with its environment. The mechanical connections between the cells are such that they can slide over one another in order that the global form and structure of the sculpture may be dynamic to a finer level of detail than can be realized in traditional kinetic sculpture.

This project will first be carried out in a computer visualization environment. The result of this development will be an evolutionary database of the design of the sculpture elements as well as a dynamic simulation of how the complete sculpture will behave from a logical as well as physical standpoint.

The programmable nature of the sculpture will mean that the form is not directly determined by the materials, but by the intelligence with which the materials have been infused. The overall logical model for the piece will be a hybrid of massively parallel computing architectures (Multiple-Instruction, Multiple-Data or MIMD, Single-Instruction, Multiple Data or SIMD, Cellular Automata and Neural computing models), and physiological models of perception. The possible result is an emergent intelligence from the synergy of massive numbers of low-level cells.

The artist believes that a working prototype of the sculpture is manufacturable at reasonable cost using today's current technology.


  • Art Historical Precedent
  • Motivation
  • Initial Global Design Specification
  • The Mechanical Problem
  • The Imaging Problem
  • The Computing Problem
  • The Sculptural Problem
  • Some Examples (Dynamics, Pin Screen, Lego\u\s8\(rg\s12\d, Clay, Bee Hive)
  • Conclusion
  • References