designed by Anna Tskhovrebov for Music 256A (CCRMA, Fall 2017)
i have been thinking about the aesthetics of fluids modeling since a 2016 internship at Volkswagen, where my main project was simulating the injection molding process of a new chassis part so that we could design it robustly and with proper tooling. dozens of times a day I would watch renderings of plastics of various viscosities flowing through the mold that i was refining. it was mezmerizing, and the possibilities for mapping visual parameters (like color) to engineering parameters (like temperature) fascinated me. unfortunately Volkswagen guards their intellectual property with great care, so there was no way for me to record any of it.
i wanted to recreate this visual experience with the addition of an abstract sound experience somehow mapped to the parameters of the liquid. i thought the simplest way might be to start with sonifying just one particle, somehow pointing toward an experience of feeling like a tiny fragment in a vast universe. i experimented with ObiFlow, a fluids modeling plug-in for Unity, and swiftly figured out that my computer can support only a small fraction of ObiFlow's capabilities-this meant i had to keep the number of particles low and the rest of the progam simple in terms of processing, focusing on aesthetic and experiental qualities: does make me want to keep staring at it? does the sound mapping make intuitive sense? how can i build tension or energy with color and light?
the final product uses granular synthesis in Chunity with parameters mapped to the velocity and position of one particle emmited from the fluid generator. the fluid starts at the top of the gameplay world and constantly flows downward, accelerated by gravity. the user can manipulate certain elements of the scene by clicking on them to guide the fluid in various directions, mostly to clear obstructions as it flows downward. the end of the game presents a 'puzzle' which when finished sends the system into chaos, rendering not quite keeping up with what i have programmed.
the process of 'level' design is very modular. the three levels i have here are just gestures toward the endless modes of letting space choreograph the liquid. the design process itself was for me an aesthetic experience, and would lend itself well to a more open-source art project (letting users make their own 'levels'). in addition, more processing power would allow for a higher volume of fluid flow, with a more dramatic visual effect.