endo/exo Making Art and Music with Distributed Computing

Harriman, Jiffer and Theodore, Michael and Correll, Nikolaus and Ewen, Hunter

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

What do new possibilities for music and art making look like in a world in which the biological and mechanical are increasingly entangled? Can a contrived environment envelope the senses to the point that one feel fully immersed in it? It was with these questions in mind that the interactive mechanical sound art installation endo/exo came into being. Through the use of networked technology the system becomes more like a self-aware organism, passing messages from node to node as cells communicate through chemical signals with their neighbors. In an artistic context, the communication network resembles, but differs from, other mechanical systems. Issues such as latency are often considered negative factors, yet they can contribute a touch of personality in this context. This paper is a reflection on these and other considerations gained from the experience of designing and constructing endo/exo as well as future implications for the Honeycomb platform as a tool for creating musical interactions within a new paradigm which allows for emergent behavior across vast physical spaces. The use of swarming and self-organization, as well as playful interaction, creates an “aliveness” in the mechanism, and renders its exploration pleasurable, intriguing and uncanny.