Recursive Emergence

A camera, aimed at a white wall, captures the scene and relays it to multiple projectors. These projectors then cast their image onto that same wall, which the camera observes. From this straightforward recursive loop, intricate self-similar structures emerge.



The apparatus comprises a camera housed within a metal frame and three motorized turntable bearings. Affixed to each ring is a laser scanning projector, maneuverable in tilt and pan by servos. The rings’ rotation facilitates the movement of the projectors on three axes, allowing their overlapping images to transition from one fractal pattern to another.



The camera’s output is duplicated via an HDMI splitter and channeled directly to the projectors through flexible cables.

The movement of the projectors is semi-random within defined constraints and can enter different modes of motion. An accelerometer accompanies each projector, ensuring its orientation is monitored and preventing cable entanglements.



In my endeavor to shape and influence the fractal visuals, I incorporated a fourth projector, introducing an external image into the loop. Simple shapes, lines, text, or even images, when introduced as light signals, can render an otherwise empty loop discernible and stable. The prevailing color tends to endure and settle.



To introduce a spectrum of colors into the fractals, I subtly altered the hue of one projector. This color deviation, amplified by the loop’s recursive nature, propagates inward, unveiling details that might otherwise remain concealed.



While fractals are typically synonymous with computer-generated imagery, viewing them on digital screens often renders them abstract. Materializing fractals solely through a camera-projector loop grants them a tangible presence, making the phenomena feel more real.



Observing the ever-changing resulting structures relates differently to each individual and a variety of topics and ideas can arise.
The images can bear resemblance to branching trees, fungal mycelium, and fern leaves, they evoke visions of galactic arms, nebulae, electric discharges, crystalline forms, neural networks, or aerial views of landscapes or cities.
They resonate with concepts of organismal self-replication, abiogenesis, the emergence of consciousness, recursions in social interactions and structures, self-fulfilling prophecies, self-replicating computer programs, feedback loops in the earth’s climate system, self-referential paradoxes, and the inception of beauty.



Recursive Emergence is a testament to the beauty that arises from simple rules, echoing the intricate dance of chaos and order.


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