Diffusion Choir is an origami-inspired kinetic sculpture that
celebrates the nature of collaboration at biopharmaceutical research
firm Shire. Housed in the atrium, the four hundred elements can
independently open and close then coalesce into the synchronized
movements of an invisible flock of birds.
Each origami piece is activated by the custom flocking algorithm that
continuously evolves to choreograph different flocking patterns every
fifteen minutes. At the top of each hour, all virtual starlings come
together to form a single gesture across the sculpture.
This artwork is permanently installed at 650 East Kendall Street in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was created in partnership with Plebian Design and Hypersonic.
My role I was one of the three programmers
on this project who developed the bird flocking simulation based on
Reynolds’ boids model for flocking behavior. I worked with the senior
developer to design the flocking behavior that takes advantage of the
three-dimensional volume such as figure eight, lateral zigzag, and
ascension. The flocking simulation maps to the actual architecture.
In addition, I worked with our hardware collaborators at Hypersonic
to develop the hardware control software that open and close the
origami pieces based on the position, velocity, and acceleration of the
flocking simulation. Our design challenge was developing the movement of
the starlings that is both expressive and fast enough to be realistic,
while ensuring that we are not overusing the motors.