Living Fences

Images About Team

Living fences is a slowly evolving digital visualization conveyed through tennis balls wedged into a chain link fence. To the right of the fence, a live video feed displays an augmented reality image of a new configuration of balls, based on the rules of Conway’s Game of Life. The Game of Life is an interactive mathematical process for exploring the idea that complex systems such as life and thought can grow from a simple set of rules, like how yellow dots move on a grid.

When viewers see the discrepancy between the real fence and the fence on the screen, they often adjust the real fence to reflect the AR projection. Sometimes, however, they simply rearrange the tennis balls however they like. Either way, the installation’s preprogrammed Arduino re-interprets the new arrangement according to Conway’s ruleset, displaying an updated AR image, again differing from the current arrangement. This process, compounded over time results in a slowly, but constantly shifting visual work, the development of which is projected as a video to the left of the physical fence.

image of a child interacting with the living fence installation detail

Visitor interaction sustains this ever-changing process, which sits in constant tension between the programmatic order of the mathematical purity of Conway’s rules and the chaos of human tinkering. This tension underscores a subtler narrative within the work: the performative dialogue between computers and humans.