Nybble-Engine-Toolz

A server-software-experiment developed as artist-in-resident project by Margarete Jahrmann and Max Moswitzer (2002-2003).

Nybble-Engine-Toolz

Nybble Engine

Nybble- Engine-Toolz is a peer-to-peer servers network. The installation converts information (text, images, sound) on the hard disk into three-dimensional abstract movies and projects these onto a 180 degrees circular screen. The rest of the installation consists of a lounge and a scientific laboratory that playfully explains the Nybble-Engine experiment. From within the lounge and from Showroom MAMA players may log onto a multi-user gaming environment and target the visualized data/movies. As a result of this game and by meetings with action bots and other players the Nybble-Engine will eventually change colour.

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A nybble is the unit of half a byte, or four bits, which is the basis of every digital conversion. As the numeric equivalent of binary code, it exemplifies the internal logic of software that transforms codes and protocols on a server into various representations. Nybble-Engine-Toolz is a group experiment revealing such processes by converting data on a hard disk (text, sound, images) into three-dimensional, abstract clips. Participants in the experiment are seated on a ‘sofa surfer’ in the installation‘s lounge. The colorful films/visualized data are displayed on a large 180 degree screen. Players use a joystick to log onto the installation’s network and enter the gaming environment, where Nybbles, action bots and other gamers are flying about. The experiment will eventually change the Nybble-Engine’s color.

The core of the installation is the Nybble-Engine itself – a network application based on existing software of an interactive game. Participants may log onto the game-Engine from a variety of locations, including the sofa, and are then assigned a place in the network. They navigate the game’s environment, bump into other players or the action bots (representations of server processes) and communicate with them via text messages. This generates network traffic, the server log files of which are routed to the game-Engine, where they serve as the raw material for the three-dimensional audiovisual displays of the installation. The Nybble-Engine tool converts the data from the network traffic into graphic clips that are projected on the screen. In this way, the server processes become visible outside of the game-Engine and the visitors influence the software of the Engine, eventually causing it to change its appearance. As a whole, the installation illustrates the potential of communication technology to interact with digitally organized data and manipulate its outcome.

The complexity of Nybble-Engine-Toolz is explained in the installation itself in a playful manner. Inspired by the look of scientific laboratories in the fifties, a help desk has been designed where visitors can get more information about the experiment. Also, demo takes of the clips will be made and stored on the Nybble-Engine server. These archived data not only provide the necessary empirical support for the experiment’s outcome, but are also used as feedback to the experiment.

Nybble-engineering refers to a method that starts at the programming level of real-time tools. Here it is primarily their replicating components that represent a technical artistic challenge. The AV products generated from these, so-called nybble-engine-movies (NEMs), are structurally interactive real-time network films. Nybble-engine thus stands for both the entire program framework and for the action-bots in their function as non-linear emergences. In addition, a freeze frame is extracted on the basis of nybble engineering and sintered via a 3D printer: the data-objectile. This object represents a functional equivalent that is not analogously conceptualized, but rather in terms of problem orientation. The nybble engine project is generally presented in a pop-coded form as a live modular lecture.

Nybble Engine Toolz by Margarete Jahrmann and Max Moswitzer (2003) from V2_ on Vimeo.

 

 

Nederlands

Nybble is de eenheid voor een halve byte, of vier bits, en is de basis van iedere digitale vertaalslag. Als de numerieke equivalent van binaire code staat het model voor de interne logica van software, waarbij codes en protocollen op een server worden omgezet in verschillende representaties. Nybble-Engine-Toolz is een groepsexperiment dat dergelijke processen blootlegt door data (tekst, beeld en geluid) op de harde schijf te vertalen in driedimensionale abstracte filmpjes. Deelnemers aan het experiment nemen plaats op een "sofa-surfer" in de lounge van de installatie. Op een groot 180˚-scherm zijn de kleurrijke, gevisualiseerde data/filmpjes te zien. De speler logt met een joystick in op het netwerk van de installatie en stapt de spelomgeving binnen, vol rondvliegende Nybbles, "actionbots" en andere spelers. Door het experiment verandert de Nybble-Engine uiteindelijk van kleur.

Het kern van de installatie is de Nybble-Engine, een netwerkapplicatie gebaseerd op bestaande software van een interactieve game. Deelnemers kunnen vanuit verschillende locaties, waaronder de sofa, op de game-Engine inloggen en krijgen een plaats toegewezen in het netwerk. Ze navigeren in de spelomgeving, botsen op ander spelers of op de "actionbots" (representaties van serverprocessen) en communiceren hiermee via tekstboodschappen. Er ontstaat netwerkverkeer, waarvan de serverlogfiles worden doorgestuurd naar de game-Engine. Hieruit worden de driedimensionale, audiovisuele voorstellingen van de installatie samengesteld; de Nybble-Engine-tool zet de data van het netwerkverkeer direct om in grafische filmpjes, geprojecteerd op het scherm. Zo worden de serverprocessen van buiten de game-Engine zichtbaar, beïnvloeden bezoekers de software van de Engine en veranderen ten slotte het uiterlijk ervan.

De complexe materie van Nybble-Engine-Toolz wordt in de installatie op een speelse manier toegelicht. Geïnspireerd op de inrichting van wetenschappelijke laboratoria in de jaren vijftig, is een help desk vormgegeven, waar bezoekers meer uitleg kunnen vinden over het experiment. Daarnaast worden er demo-opnames van de filmpjes gemaakt en opgeslagen op de Nybble-Engine-server. De gearchiveerde gegevens leveren dus niet alleen de noodzakelijke empirische ondersteuning voor de uitkomst van het experiment, maar worden ook teruggekoppeld in het experiment.

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