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  • Writer's picturePierre Paslier

Interview with Josef Pelz

GH: We're so curious to find out: who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?

JP: I’m Josef Pelz, a 24 years old mathematician and creative coder from Berlin. During my masters, I focused on mathematical visualisation and started applying my knowledge in computer graphics. Ever since I create generative videos.

Meanwhile, I’m writing my master thesis on real-time implementation of Schrödinger Flow (smoke simulation based on ideas from quantum physic).

"I enjoy the uncertainty about how the emerging system will behave."

GH: What is the underlying philosophy behind your work?

Josef: Curiosity. I combine ideas from various algorithms and observe the outcome. I enjoy the uncertainty about how the emerging system will behave. I strive for real-time implementations of those algorithms in order to interact with the system in a playful manner.

GH: Can you pick an artwork and describe your workflow?

Josef: In this piece, you see 1,166,400 particles, each individually following a set of rules. Together they form these complex structures. I combined some ideas from physarum systems with custom algorithms of mine. Once the system is running, I use a MIDI controller to play with parameters and observe the influence they have. The variety of outcomes is genuinely stunning.

At each frame, a particle reads the average particle density and the average (directed) velocity at its position. Then it tries to steer away from high density areas while simultaneously adapt the average velocity. These ideas are inspired by flocking systems (boids). To find out more about the physarum component I recommend to take a look at the website of Sage Jenson. He’s the master of physarum and I had an inspiring talk with him earlier this year.

GH: What's been inspiring you lately?

Josef: I think It’s always fruitful to get an insight into the work of people from a completely different field. Lately, I’ve been inspired by footage of deep-sea creatures.

The film "Schlingensief: A voice that shook the silence" stimulated a lot in me.

GH: Tell us about your setup. Where do you create? What tools do you use? Josef: I work from home, Laptop & Monitor. I mainly use Touchdesigner by Derivative. It’s a great piece of software for real-time implementations within which I can use the programming language GLSL. It allows me to interact with my creations through MIDI controllers, motion sensors, music, etc.

GH: What would you like to explore next?

Josef: I will definitely work with musicians more often. I think that sound is one of the most direct ways to touch people.

Josef Pelz, Berlin, Germany

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