yen (Burning Life)

yen (Burning Life) is an interactive sculpture inspired by Heian Jingu shrine in Kyoto, Japan. In the shrine was a tree that had so many fortune papers tied to it that it appeared to be full of white blooms; fortunes that were undesirable were tied to the tree in the hopes that bad fortune would stay at the shrine. This hope for better fortune transformed the bare tree, and the multitude of strands a reminder of how many visitors prayed for improved lives. The installation in Second Life was part of the Burning Life festival (September 27 - October 5, 2008) and is a sculpted tree that began with blank strands flowing from its branches. As people touched the strands, the strands transformed and were no longer blank. The name of the avatar (person) was added to a database and the strand was renamed after that person. This piece is a continuation of a series titled "yen" incorporating photographs of Japanese shrines and gardens taken in Japan (from Meiji Jingu, Senso-Ji, and Chingodo-Ji in Tokyo, and Heian Jingu in Kyoto, June 2008).Technical information: Built with 3D models (Maya and Second Life), PHP, SQL/MySQL, LSL, and original photographs used as textures.


A generative piece exploring order and random; random photographs of a Japanese shrine and garden (from Meiji Jingu, Senso-Ji, or Chingodo-Ji in Tokyo, or Heian Jingu in Kyoto) are used as the basis for each iteration. As the work attempts to create a greater verisimilitude, random elements disrupt the process. A balance is achieved as the piece evolves. Steps in the application's process have also been saved out as frames for a video collaboration with Dr. Joseph Cancellaro. More information about the collaborative video is also online.Technical information: Built with Processing (Java based authoring environment), and uses original photographs as source images.