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PET - Particle Emission Tool

collaborative video tool and alternative interface
project date: 

screenshot of PET using webcam inputP.E.T. began as an elaboration on a section of the Unconventional Drawing project and has grown into a deeply interactive tool with numerous controllable variables. The main premise of P.E.T. is to emit graphical particles on screen—a simple and exceedingly open goal which has allowed the program to be used and customized for a variety of uses.

If you want, you can play with the Flash version. And if you don't want to go about it blindly, all of the control keys are detailed in this image which was displayed as a large print with the installation of the flash version on the Smart Wall of the John Woods Studio at Alfred University. "Touch Screen to Drag Emission Point" refers to the touch screen interface of the Smart Wall, for web use this should be "move mouse to drag emission point".

screen shots of P.E.T. (Flash version) in action. taken around Oct. '03

why particles?

A particle is typically perceived as a tiny piece of something else. It has no meaning of its own–only the meaning of the whole from which it came. When we think of particles, it is in terms of what the particles do–the actions that they take. Sub-atomic specs spiral off in mathematical equations, pixels compose our display, pollen makes us sneeze, and people produce and consume. It is only the particles’ motion that is considered to have any importance–the collective calculation of that which is done.

I am trying to emphasize the individualized consideration of that which is doing, both on the micro and the macro scale. As P.E.T. has developed, the individual particles have become more potent carriers of connotative meaning. And as each performer uses the tool, they individually express themselves and their personal aesthetic through it.

I want to make the particle significant–the individual a consideration–yet the meaning of the whole is inescapable. The individual particles combine their nuances together to form a continuously emitted collective meaning. The individual performances form a whole which is the total capabilities of the program–the boundaries of possibility, and what meaning is there for a program other than that?

screen shots of P.E.T. (Processing version) in action. taken around Apr. '04

a tool must be used

P.E.T. was developed as tool–a tool to be used in the process of making/shaping other things.

Through the process of use, the customization and refinement of the tool are further developed. This development also causes the tool to leave its mark on what it creates. As a tool is shaped and developed, the possibilities are limited–that which can be created by it is selected, along with that which cannot. The shape of the tool is thereby echoed in what it creates.

Use is necessary, for without it a tool is only a museum exhibit. A tool with no use has no life. It should be taken apart and used in the process of creating a new tool.