Tomlinson, Bill

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Digital access to this material is pending artist's approval. Materials may be viewed onsite at the Goldsen Archive, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University.

A great deal of effort has been expended to design artificially intelligent systems by replicating human behaviors. The primary focus of this effort has been on replicating behavioral patterns with obvious survival benefits - the ability to navigate through a world, to gather resources, etc. In addition, researchers have preferred projects that are easy to replicate with computers - abilities relating to precision, repeatability and rapid processing. However, there are a great number of human behaviors that lack obvious survival benefits, and that may not lend themselves at first glance to computational implementation. For example, dreaming, adherence to false beliefs and social stereotyping are common human behavioral patterns that do not clearly lead to food, clothing or shelter (although it is certainly possible to tell convincing "Just So" stories about the value of each of these behaviors). As a hybrid artist/scientist, I seek to create interactive computational systems that shed light on these areas, as both artistic undertaking and scientific research.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
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    2006 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
    Tomlinson, Bill (2009-06-11T15:06:40Z)
    The EcoRaft Project is an interactive installation about the process ofrestoration ecology - the study of the regeneration of ecosystems. In the installation, three large computer monitors act as virtual islands ofhabitat inhabited by 3D animated plant and animal species. These animated animals and plants interact with each other in real-time, creating a lush virtual ecosystem. Three wireless Tablet PCs are "collecting boxes" that people can use to carry the organisms from island to island. By moving species between the islands, participants can explore the impact that each species has on the existing ecosystem, and experiment with the process of restoring the island's ecosystem after it has been depleted. In planning this installation I have been collaborating with Dr. Lynn Carpenter, one of the world's leading experts in restoration ecology, to embed key themes of this field in all aspects of the installation.
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    2007 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
    Tomlinson, Bill (2009-03-31T16:37:34Z)
    The Somnolescent Intelligence installation enables people to interact with a virtual world, and in particular with an autonomous animated character who has simple computational dreams. This character, called the Dreamer, lives in a forest of ethereal trees. The Dreamer, who tends the trees, wanders around the world and remembers each tree in her forest. Periodically she sleeps, and dreams about the trees in her world. Her dreams are visualized above her head, and help her construct an understanding of the diversity of the trees that she tends. Visitors to the installation can alter the appearance of the trees using a mouse. Visitors may also use the mouse to intervene in the Dreamer's dreams, affecting the mental representations that she forms about her trees. The installation also includes a microphone through which people may hum quietly at the Dreamer to encourage her to sleep and dream peacefully, or make harsh noises to keep her awake or disrupt her dreams. Periodically the Dreamer plants a tree, the appearance of which reflect how well rested she is; through this process, the appearance of the virtual forest begins to reflect the way in which visitors have been interacting with her. Every several minutes a new Dreamer is born, and the old Dreamer sits down with her successor and passes on her primary mental representation of the trees in her forest.