RESEARCH ASSOCIATE

HYBRID INVENTION GENERATOR -  PROF BILL SEAMAN - UCLA DESIGN MEDIA ARTS 

 

The Hybrid Invention Generator (HIG) is a generative artwork that enables the creation of new inventions through a computer-based hybridforming mechanism. Some 70 inventions generated by me in 3D are presented to a participant. Any device can be “mated” with any of the other inventions in the system (Fig. 1). Ten “genetic hybrids” for each “mating” inventions, including drawings, plans, photographs and movies, and we developed a series of media tests and experimental visualizations exploring the potential aesthetics of the system. The model for the functioning system was highly ambitious. It functioned as a metaphor for an even more ambitious concept, the creation of an actual Hybrid Invention Generator. A threeyear research gift from Intel was central in facilitating this process. There are few systems that enable people to brainstorm about the visualization and creation of new inventions. The HIG system produces differing kinds of results: serious, humorous, surreal—yet by interacting with a series of visualizations/conceptualizations in real time, the participant is potentially able to imagine the actual solution. Even the broad expertise of the researchers involved could not solve some of the more intrinsic research problems. Gideon May, a computer programmer and artist, was then solicited to bring the work to fruition. One of the most difficult problems to solve was developing the mechanism to form the “genetic” offspring of the initial invention models in real time. This problem proved to be non-trivial. Yet May rose to the task. Thus the Hybrid Invention Generator could only come into being through processoriented research—a collaborative interaction among artists, designers, programmers and engineers as facilitated by industry support. The Hybrid Invention Generator premiered at the Museum of New Zealand—Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington, 2002. It has been discussed in a variety of essays, including “OULIPO | vs | Recombinant Poetics” [1]. Reference 1. Bill Seaman, “OULIPO | vs | Recombinant Poetics,” in Special Issue “The Ninth Annual Digital Salon,” Leonardo 34, No. 5, 423–430 (2001). [This essay was awarded the Leonardo Prize for Excellence in 2002. —Ed.] display differing percentages of parentage formed in real time. An underlying logic of input, functionality and output, as well as a potential conjunction methodology, is presented textually in the work. The initial research for the project was undertaken by students at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Department of Design | Media Arts. Assistant researchers on the Hybrid Invention Generator included Daksh Sahni (architecture); Steve Spahl (computer science); Gustavo Rincon (architecture); Kalim Chan (design | media arts); software consultant (and engineer) Kostas Terzidis (assistant professor of architecture); and Grace Tsai (architecture), all of UCLA. Each participant brought individual interests and fields of expertise to the project. Many ongoing brainstorming sessions were undertaken. Our group collected a vast assortment of media examples of CAA 2004 Artists’ Statements 315 CAA 2004