Thursday, 23 June 2011

Project 3 - Feedback Theory and Concept


A control system has input from an external signal source and output to an external load; this defines a natural sense (or direction) or path of propagation of signal; the feedforward sense or path describes the signal propagation from input to output; feedback describes signal propagation in the reverse sense. When a sample of the output of the system is fed back, in the reverse sense, by a distinct feedback path into the interior of the system, to contribute to the input of one of its internal feedforward components, especially an active device or a substance that is consumed in an irreversible reaction, it is called the "feedback". The propagation of the signal around the feedback loop takes a finite time because it is causal.
Howard Odum, reduced the bewildering complexities of nature, to cybernetic networks. The ecosystems were drawn out as electrical circuits, with feedback loops that showed how energy flowed around the system through animals and plants. Odum even built real electrical circuits to represent the environments and he used them to adjust the flow of energy in the system. All this was to aid the system in returning to an equilibrium, to a stable functioning. His brother Eugene in his book, Fundamentals of Ecology, betrayed the whole planet as a network of interlinked ecosystems. To make their theories work they distorted science, and based their theories on a metaphor that the ecosystem worked like a machine. They simplified their data to an extraordinary degree, they took the complexity and the variability of the natural world and they paired it down to the equations and circuits they had drawn. As they did this, it stopped being a metaphor and became what seemed to be a scientific description of reality. 
What they were really doing, was creating a machine like fantasy of stability, driven by the desire for prestige, biological reality disappeared. Organisms were expected to act mechanically in predictable ways, animals became robots.
The balance of the natural world, is based on the ideas of ancient western mythology and religion, combined with the knowledge of the machine age. Because we have proven that there can be controlled balance within the mechanical world, the same must be true of the natural world. There is an element of fear of the unknown within this mentality, and mans desire to not only understand, but to be able to control.


I plan to explore these ideas of feedback loops within the natural system, playing with devises both visual and audio, creating a display that highlights the beauty of this phenomena, but also by its very nature, depict the artificial realisation of it as a concept. 
Audience reaction to my creations so far have been a combination of aesthetic appreciation, mixed with uncomfortable unease. I think this is rather interesting, we can find pleasure in looking at these natural sights, but through the means in which they have been distorted, stabalised, we are left questioning their true existence as a natural form. 
I think the key factors to be developed are those concerning these responses, and the form in which these visuals are created and presented. If I am to be successful in making an observation / comment on the concepts of the feedback loop within a controlled ecosystem I must ensure that the methods I use to form these visuals are true to the cause. Only natural movement, data sourced from nature can be used to create the final work.
In regards to exhibition, perhaps a degree of interaction would allow greater exploration into the theories of control. What would the user do when given control? Is it possible to give control? Could their interaction simply add an extra level of feedback that is then fed back through the system creating further distortion of the truth?

1 comment:

  1. this is really interesting and it looks like we are working with the same concepts but different applications. My project uses audio cues as neurofeedback and there is a visual output and interactivity involved. I am looking forward to seeing more of what you are up to. x