02 August 2014


When I saw Mac Kanashimi's name on the list of LEA Artist in Residence grant recipients, I knew his work would be rezzed almost immediately, as he develops builds in advance. But it wasn't until today, the second day of the residency, that the massive work, Pinwheels, was ready for viewing. "It took longer than anticipated," remarked Mac. "This build has one level and one path, so that is simpler, but the mechanics of this one are trickier." The enormous structure, stretching fully across the sim in both directions and down so that the walking space becomes a cube, is constructed of pinwheel tilings, which Wikipedia describes as "non-periodic tilings defined by Charles Radin and based on a construction due to John Conway. They are the first known non-periodic tilings to each have the property that their tiles appear in infinitely many orientations." I can't fully appreciate the mathematics behind the build, but it's fascinating to experience them in this visual realization, particularly as columns slowly ascend and descend.

An application developer based in Holland in real life, Mac provides the following parameters for Pinwheels:
- 4 pinwheels tile the plane {1}
- each pinwheel is divided into 3125 triangles
- all triangles have the same shape
- the triangles are arranged as a stairway
- the stairway slope varies
- the color is derived from the stairway slope
- many miles of walkable stairways
- dangerous cliffs up to 256 m high
- the landscape changes continuously
- closed surface
- the safe landing point is shaped as a flat pinwheel
- the objects move vertically, resize and change color
- HSL to RGB conversion {2}

To give you a sense of scale, take a look at the second image in this post. On the left, you'll spot Mac standing, and I'm standing on the dark violet column near the center — so to really see the entire build you should turn your draw distance up to 1024 or higher. I found that exploring by foot, weaving up and down, provided an important sense of the pinwheel structure. "Prims are stacked, neighboring objects communicate with each other about their height, so extra objects can be added or removed. You can see the effect if you fly below the objects," suggests Mac. "The script uses the rational coordinates property to calculate the vertices of the pinwheels." Pinwheels will remain on display through December.

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