Particle Collider


Video by Christian W. Anderson and SPACEFILLER.

Particle Collider borrows concepts from chaos theory and math to create a delightful playground of light and sound. The trajectories of computer simulated particle streams are projection mapped on an interactive table, rendered as radial lines (like the growth rings of a tree). Adjustable physical sliders on the table allow viewers to manipulate the trajectories of the particle streams, causing them to curve and collide in surprising ways. The motion of the particles is fed through a sound generating algorithm to create a sonic landscape that echos the order and chaos of the particle system.

Stable configurations of the virtual physics yield regular, symmetric visual patterns and harmonic tones. But a small adjustment of a slider can cause the particle streams to collide and enter a dynamic chaotic state. Viewers can resolve that tension by finding another calm state, or choose to dive deeper into the chaos. The piece leverages a rich simulation with an internal logic that viewers can learn to skillfully manipulate.

The transition zone from order to chaos — called a phase transition by mathematicians — is the heart of Particle Collider. This so called "edge of chaos" permeates our universe, and is fundamental to the nature of computation itself (including to systems like the human brain). With Particle Collider, our goal is to translate the math and science of chaos theory into an immersive experience that viewers can connect with on an intuitive level.

Sound design by Mick Marchan.

All photos by Fritz Rodriguez.
All photos by Fritz Rodriguez.