Forest and Desert

I assisted RCA MA student Min Young Kim on the Forest and Desert work:

Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death, a biochemical event in which enables surviving possible for every living organism. Forest and Desert, 2018, is a real-time simulation referring to such a biological function. The concept of natural death becoming a core engine for a virtual body to sustain its life, prevention of over population and over clocking, as well as the break-down of the system. The null and void routine of system renders the surreal but live images that continually undergoes change and challenges the self-contained capacity.


Over a series of meetings the following issues were encountered and worked through:

  • Establish a workflow between artist and developer: deciding a shared language, a set of design guides documents, regular meetings, project management structure.
  • Discussion of different ways to achieve a real-time simulation of an ecosystem of bacteria like agents.
  • Developer assistance in setting up agent simulation behaviour, I designed scripts to be editable from the Unity Editor allowing detailed tuning by the artist.
  • Addition of new agent features to represent different classes of predators and prey in the simulation with groups interactions (attach/evade/cohesion) and changes of agent state over time (growth/decay/transformation).
  • Optimization of the simulation by refactoring the agent interaction system into an Entity Component System architecture. Various tweaks to performance such as staggered agent updates.
  • Build support: eg forcing Unity to render in OpenGL modes compatible with MacMini used for installation, finding and adding lost shaders to builds.
  • Multiple display output from Unity to allow the projected image and the “Debug view” screen, see below, this screen displays information about the state of the simulation.