Physical Modeling for Visual Creation

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During the "Ambiant Creativity" and "Créativité Instrumentale" projects, a number of workshops were organized (see Teaching Events), including workshops dedicated to visual creation using physical modeling, with the MIMESIS environment. Usually 3- to 5-day long, they were animated by employees and PhD students of ACROE and Laboratoire ICA, and by teachers and artists that were trained during past collaborations.

These workshops were open to students in Arts (coming from Art Schools or Music Conservatories), students in Sciences, and to any other person with a strong interest for sound synthesis and computer music. No specific artistic or scientific knowledge was required.

This type of workshops allows participants to learn how to create animated images using physical models with MIMESIS. Then, they explore how to give a shape to the movements produced, using MIMESIS again or related software such as Gravure Dynamique. A specific attention is given to new creative possibilities offered by the free combination of movements created by physical models and shapes added later in a true multimodal approach, similar to what is practiced in the audio-visual domain. This work is completed by a new approach, full of creative potential, through a new software tool called MOKA (Université de Poitiers), which allows to model dynamic topologies, to shape them and to put them in motion.

During the introductory phase of the workshop, the physical concepts are explained, with an emphasis on the paradigm shift induced by MIMESIS: from the representation of phenomena to the representation of causes as part of the creative process.

While participants are getting started with MIMESIS, they build and observe quite simple simulated mass - elasticity - viscosity structures in order to educate their vision to movement, and to study the relation between shape and movement by changing the visual shapes applied to these structures. For example, in the simple case of two masses bouncing on each other, modifying the size of their visual representation introduces the new observation that shape and movement can be dissociated, an observation that would be impossible without simulation. Thus, it is possible to experiment how movement and shape "cooperate" to give birth to an animated visual effect.

Then, participants are given a large library of physical models that they are invited to experiment with. Indeed, the proposed approach start from existing models rather than the "blank page", which facilitates using the software for the first time and the comprehension of physical concepts used, such as: physical interaction and its differences from spatial relation, inertia, elasticity, viscosity, non linear interactions, physical units and values of the parameters, etc.

Finally participants are invited to define and realize a micro-project, with help from the teaching team. They have to describe it to everyone before working on it, so that the ideas can be collectively refined. After realization, projects are presented to the group and the models used are analyzed and evaluated.

The workshop ends with a new discussion of the representation of causes, with a theoretical, technical and artistic point of view, with a focus on the concept of "simulated and shaped" matter, as implemented in MIMESIS.