What are we doing all the time? My interest in how we orient (or orientate) ourselves is perhaps related to what I have just thought after beginning to re-read Norbeg Schultz’s “Genius Loci” and getting an insight into why we are motivated to orient ourselves anyway.
What if, whatever else we may be doing, we are continually seeking shelter? When we read an environment, real or imagined, what guides our interpretation of the space? Are we by any chance seeking dwelling places, categorising where may be safe and where we might be in danger. Identifying and ranking places of potential risk of violence, the weather or other unpleasant phenomena, as well as places where we may get social contact, food, shelter, etc?
As I wanted to motivate my programmed agents in my artwork so that their behaviours could be read by humans, they were given generic behaviours like this. Embodied at base in Smallworld’s ‘to’ and ‘from’ tendencies, so I have been aware of this for a long time but have not articulated it in words. Now I shall do it, in words and pictures.
Both humans and my agents “map” their context. The Smallworld agents or “animals” choose to ignore some things and attend to others, they even form an hierarchy of categorised locations in their dynamic map. These could have been flagged up but my intention has been for us to read the rhythmic , spatial and compositional patterns without having a map to guide us, as unmapped phenomena, so we can engage in natural mapping behaviour to generate a map based upon an interpretation of their actions and, if we recognise such patterns, form an empathy or antipathy toward them, to relate to them in fact.
Whilst we are relating to their actions we may also engage proprioception and begin to imagine what an agent, or several agents might be feeling if they were to share our sensibilities. We might name these feelings: fear, hope, indecision, satisfaction, contentment, need, invigoration, etc..
Each composition can create different potential environments to orient ourselves in.
Could the unease felt when seeing some fractal forms mentioned by Michael Kaschalk in his talk at BFX Festival Relate to an unease at not being able to use our usual orienting skills to map the territory? Are we disoriented, to some extent sensing a boundary of madness, the state when our mapping system lets us down by misinterpreting our environment making dwelling in it difficult? Being unable to differentiate correctly we are thrown into whatever reaction we are inclined to have to the unknown, unusual, or uncanny. Is it indeed similar in some ways tho the “uncanny valley” effect in robotics and moving pictures?
How can we tell? How prove that this is happening? We cant’t.. We could set up scientific experiments to measure things and apply mathematics to generate a scientific “strong hypothesis” but we might as well ( rather than alternatively) trust our natural judgement through our personal mapping abilities.