Image Of the Future

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future? And do you believe that you will have a large or small impact on that future?

Based on the theory of futurist Fred Polak, Image of the Future poses these two questions, asking people to consider the future while reflecting on their present. Taking inspiration from the past, a machine taught the art of paper marbling interprets people’s thoughts to create unique artworks.

In order to democratize the art creating process and bridge the gap between the digital and physical world, Image of the Future starts with a website using an interactive visual interface built using p5.js. Once responses are received, the program sends the collected information to the machine through Arduino in order to perform two operations; firstly triangulating a starting position and secondly determining printing instructions.

Moving into position involves a system of gears, motors and string based on the Delta Printer Principle. This was honed to perfection by developing a simulator in Processing. Once in position the machine releases drops of paint from two tanks onto a specially prepared solution.

Since the paint is less dense than the solution, it spreads in concentric circles, akin to the marbling process.

The artwork may then be printed by a human, this interaction closing the human – computer – human loop. Each artwork created is unique since despite meticulous planning, construction and programming, many if not most of the variables are out of the machine’s control.

Through the asking of two questions garnering subjective measures, translating these responses to precise coordinates before relaying data through an unpredictable yet controllable method, Image of the Future reflects the very nature of the future itself. Though somewhat blurry and imprecise, the future is not something that simply occurs, it is something we all make happen.