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System C is a time-based drawing machine, a software system for the creation of rule-based images. Several autonomous agents move over a surface, making marks as they move, as a realtime two-screen projection.

The drawing process is modelled on a simple kinetic system. Each agent has a speed and direction that both smoothly change for every step it takes. When the speed or rate of rotation exceeds the minimum or maximum constraints, they start reversing so that their values tend toward the other extreme, causing a subtle oscillation between values over time. Different values for the constraints result in visually different but recognizably related images.

Each image takes a preset amount of time to complete. Once an image is done, the surface is cleared, the drawing system is set to a randomized initial state and the drawing process starts over. The images that are created are saved and uploaded to the web so that online users can observe the most recent activity. All completed images are saved with a time stamp indicating the time of their creation. An archive documents the whole period of the exhibition.

Some physicists define glass not as a solid but rather as a slow-moving liquid, so viscous that we cannot observe its movement. System C draws its images slowly enough to be perceived as nearly static, yet is in reality in a process of slow development.

This project uses the Open Source FTP library edtFTPj from Enterprise Distributed Technologies.


Marius Watz is an artist and designer
working with generative strategies for creating visual form. His work is marked by playful organic shapes and a signature style of visual hedonism. Watz currently lives and works in Berlin.

06.05.10: System C is being shown at the OFFF Festival in Barcelona, 11-13 May.

05.02.09: Images from System C at Club Transmediale are now online.

05.01.23: The Electrohype 2004 exhibiton finishes today, and System C has stopped running after completing over 300 images during the exhibition run. The piece will be shown at the Club Transmediale 8 February and again at the smaller version of Electrohype in Gothenburg 19 Feb - 17 Apr. This archive of the more than 330 images generated during the show will remain online.

Electrohype can be visited at www.electrohype.org. Unfortunately, it currently looks as though they will have to close down due to lack of funding. I wish to thank Lars Gustav Midtbøe and Anna Kindvall for their persistence in running an important resource for Nordic media art