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Using Code Art and Generative Design to Reanimate Thoreau’s Digitized Herbarium



4.23.18
I’m currently collaborating with Leah Sobsey, Dr. Emily Meineke, and Dr. Marsha Gordon in the development of a mutlimedia installation that leverages Henry David Thoreau’s pressed plant specimens, housed at Harvard University’s Herbaria. Thoreau’s collection is a botanical time machine that lives in combination with the naturalist’s extensive notes about when and where his specimens were collected, which our installation draws from to provide insight into environmental change.

In “Exploring Thoreau’s Woods,” digitized selections of Thoreau’s pressed plants will literally come to life off of the page through motion art, data visualization, soundscapes, and projected augmented reality experiences. The centerpiece will be the projection of photographic images from Thoreau’s collection onto liquids (evoca-tive of Walden Pond), fabric, and onto what we envision as a forest floor inside of a large-scale meditation tent that visitors will experience.  
In this short POC forest floor data visualization (a birds eye view of the exhibit space), I’ve aggregated the plant specimens into a radial composition via Processing (an electronic arts programming language). Then I bring the curated compositions into animation software to create  the liquid augmented reality bloom animations, the soundscapes, and transitions that follow actual plant data trends.
Mark
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