One of Whitney’s hallmarks was his implementation of Differential Motion in his various projects. It’s a simple process that yields interesting results, and ultimately served to encapsulate his overall life philosophy. And I have to agree, to an extent, I can see his point.

Basically, what happens — and you can see it as clearly in artifish as you can in Whitney’s films — is that because each element is moving just slightly faster than it’s preceding neighbor, and all of them are traveling in a closed loop, eventually, the fastest will overtake the slowest, as will its “followers”. But prior to that moment, if you would have just glanced at the screen, you would have thought everything to be in disarray, out of sync, in chaos. But slowly, the elements begin to align, and there is a perceivable order . . . and then, at that moment when the fastest overcomes the slowest . . . there is a brief moment of unity, in which all of the elements occupy the same exact locus, in unison.

For the most part, Whitney only illustrated this in his mandala-like structures, in the which the elements orbited the center differentially. While he applied it in Matrix III, with the white discs, and then conentric hexagons and triangles, the process was not so apparent.

With artifish, because we have the luxury of interaction and an “untimed” experience, you are free to observe the expansion from consonance to dissonance and back as many times as you want.

Here are a couple of interesting things you might notice, if you’ve chosen the Rhodonea as the curve type (which I should probably explain with pictures, but there’s no time!).

  • Watch the slowest fish . . . in the time it takes him to travel a single loop, from the center and back, his brothers have traveled much more distance — yet at the exact moment that the slow one reaches the center, they ALL reach the center. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like will happen – but it always does.
  • At a certain point in the cycle — and there must be a metric for this, I just haven’t timed it yet — the fish begin to “dance” together, and make there way around each petal, in order, until they’ve gone around the entire rose
  • At certain times, they appear to split off into “teams”, running in contrary motion. I believe this is about midway through the cycle. At the end, of course, they all join together in single file. It’s always reminded me of the formation that speed skaters fall into during a race . . .

On that note I’ll say that the prototype is just about ready for posting . . . stay tuned and enjoy.

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The preceding entry is a cross-post of one of ten (10) blog posts originally included with my submission of Artifish as an entry in Google's 2014 DevArt competition, formatted more or less as it appears on the DevArt site. I decided to cross-post here because 1) the original entries were posted out of sequence due to a GitHub glitch, and 2) If Google dismantles or moves the DevArt site I'll have a version preserved here. Here is some background information on Artifish and the DevArt entry, as well as a full listing of the posts