96" x 1" x 1" (2010) - LEDs, microcontroller, power supply, acrylic plastic, software
RGBCA #1 is a study in complexity using cellular automata and colored light. The simplest cellular automaton as described by Wolfram and others consists of a single row of cells. Each cell is only "aware" of its own current state and the states of its two neighbors. Using a simple set of rules each cell maps those three current states into its next state. For example, if a cell and its 2 neighbors are all "on" the rules may dictate that the cell turn "off" at the next tick of the clock. The individual cells are simple but en masse, depending on the rule set, they can exhibit a remarkable diversity of behaviors. Such behaviors may be static, periodic, patterned, or even chaotic verging on random.
This piece uses three cellular automata running different rule sets and colored lights that include red, green, and blue elements. The three elements can mix to produce virtually any color. Each of the three cellular automata is assigned to one of the three colors. Every minute or so the rule sets are changed and a new clock rate is set.
Like other complex systems this piece will exhibit patterns that include irregularities here and there. Sometimes patterns will dissolve into chaos, and others will converge on a static state or simple repetition. A slow clock rate results in slow transitions that are better for revealing patterns in space. Fast transitions are better for revealing patterns in time. Tiny differences in rule sets can result in dramatically different emergent behaviors.