Pillbug experiment

This experiment tries to replicate the defensive and passive postures of an Armadillidiidae. Since I don’t know how to spell or even pronounce armadillidiidae, renaming this to “pillbug” made much more sense.

The pillbug experiment has 2 modes; the passive, open mode which feels airy and colorful and the defensive mode collapses into a dark ball for protection. The animation is known as conglobation (thanks wikipedia!). In keeping with the use of audio in my work, I made both modes react differently with sound data (Arabesque by DeBussy), ripples in the open mode, spikes in the closed mode.

In my early sketches, I focused specifically on the notion of a hood comprised of overlapping bands. The bands would independently pivot from a central hinge similar to an overhead awning. I wanted to continue the covering metaphor in 3d space so I had envisioned a similar behavior for the front side like a paper fan.

When I started working on the code the outcome was surprisingly spherical. The pillbug idea was instantly obvious once I started messing with the parameters (via sliders).

Design and technology conferences always provide a great deal of motivation for creating new work. The eyeofestival in Minneapolis was a week away so I figured that would be a great time to fully explore the pillbug idea while meeting awesome people and listening to inspiring presentations.

Using the framework I cobbled together in my last experiment I was able to get a working prototype pretty quickly. Once the pillbug idea started to germinate, I started playing with the surface of the shape, moving points around to create a gap like the shell sections of the pillbug. Messing with the parameters that affected the sections created interesting spikes which emphasized the defensive mode of the pillbug.

versions : 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 1415

credits below

Three.js 3D framework
Dat-gui gui framework.
jstween for animation
Arabesque by DeBussy
web audio
Photo Credits


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