<em>Mesocosm (Northumberland UK)</em>

Marina Zurkow
Mesocosm (Northumberland UK), 2011
Custom software (color, sound), animation, computer
146-hour cycle (24-minute day, 146-hour year)
Edition of 5

Mesocosm (Northumberland UK) is an animated landscape portrait representing one year of real time on the moors of Northumberland. In a 146-hour cycle that unfurls in a choreographed sequence of chance, animated objects are placed on a stage, and code determines the frequency and order of their appearance. No cycle is identical to the last, as the appearance of characters and seasonal weather are determined by a simple probability equation. One hour of world time elapses in each minute of screen time: Seasons unfold, snows fall, days pass, moons rise, animals come and go, and the omnipresent man in the garden (based on a painting of Leigh Bowery by Lucien Freud), both corporeal and a magical source of food, offers his body to nourish the garden feeders. Real, mythical and man-made elements interact as they cross the stage of this British landscape, in an expanded view of what constitutes “nature.”

About the series:
Mesocosm is a series of animated landscapes that develop and change over time in response to software-driven data inputs. The title Mesocosm is drawn from the field of environmental science and refers to experimental, simulated ecosystems that “allow for manipulation of the physical environment… [for] organismal, community, and ecological research.” Mesocosmʼs animated landscapes portray specific places populated by animals, people, plants and weather whose behaviors and interactions are driven by data, probability, and if/then conditions, which determine what appears on screen. They are drawn by hand, frame-by-frame, yet their choreographies are dynamic – not looped or canned – dictated by constraints in real-time.

Additional credits:
Add’l animators: Xue Hou, Andrea Lira, Laewook Kang
Code design: Veronique Brossier
Occasional sound design by Lem Jay Ignacio
Leigh Bowery character modeled by Lawrence Goldhuber
Red squirrel source footage generously bartered by Nicholas Berger
Developed during a residency at ISIS Arts, Newcastle, Northumberland


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