Glambient: animating tilings with symmetry constraints

Glambient is a computer program for exploring periodic tilings. The program can run as a tiling design program or as a screensaver under windows, or it can produce Flash animations that can be viewed over the web.

This project was presented at the inaugural rhizome.LA event on December 19, 2001. The first attempts began sometime in 1992, with several designs tried and abandoned. Inspiration was derived from (of course) M. C. Escher and from Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas column about parquet deformations. If you are interested in tilings you should see Craig Kaplan's tilings research.

You can read more about the internals of the software and the user interface. Source code is available, though it is not well-packaged for compiling.

Sam and Max's stairwell

This is from a brick pattern on the stairs where some friends live. There are constraints keeping various edges parallel or perpendicular to each other (the nature of the constraint system requires that they also be the same length in this case). There are also "forces" that kick in to prevent facets from self-intersecting. The program is wandering through the constrained space, changing direction when it encounters resistance from an approaching degeneracy.

A less constrained brick pattern

Someone felt that the first version of this pattern was almost too symmetrical, so here it is with a few constraints removed... the first version has four degrees of freedom, this one has eight. There's definitely a nice point to be found somewhere in between, but right now I don't have quite enough flexibility in the constraints to specify what I want.

Brick pattern with six degrees of freedom

A candidate for the happy medium, with six degrees of freedom. currently I have to set up the constraints for each of these things by hand, but in the future it should be possible to wander between constrained spaces as well as within just one.

Hexagons at play

A basic hexagonal tiling with some constraints applied. It was stuck in an interesting corner of the space (the long vertical herringbone pattern) when I started recording, and it takes a while to find its way out.

Field of Necker cubes

Add a couple more edges and constraints to the hexagonal tiling above and you may be tempted to interpret the results as three dimensional...

Crosses and diamonds

The parallelograms are connected by crosses. Each arm of the cross is constrained to be the same length as and parallel to the opposite arm.

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