Miromations

Miromations are short, highly participatory performances for 100’s of people within a Miro board. Following simple rules inspired by Craig Reynolds code for boids (1987), the moments manifest a ‘human murmurations’ as participants followed simple principles.

The flow of cursors, each one choreographed to follow a ‘flight path’ on the Miro board, and adhering to a rule base generated murmurations akin to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.

Miromations lasted no more than 5 mins each, and they will be scheduled before or after panels / events during the DRS Festival of Emergence, the International Miro conference 2021, and through various periods of lockdown for online students. Each ‘moment’ was be recorded for playback and in memory of the social cohesion that exists across communities.

Background:

During two years of distributed isolation from the design studio, one of the few reminders of the social activity that we craved was the flocking of cursors on a Miro board. Whether it was in small meetings, or large workshops of over 50, seeing the twitch and flow of collaborators across a Miro board became a temporary fix for the body language and energy that empowers co-creative activities.

This activity has been a thrill to watch as people organise post-its and add comments to explore an idea, and at times with a mass of participants, the movement is similar to the flocking of birds during a murmuration.

People communing in Miro Miromation

The idea was initially developed for a ‘Moment of Emergence’ to be held during the DRS Festival of Emergence conference 2021, to allow 100s of designers to join in a collective murmuration. Following a series of simple codes that reference Craig Reynolds code for boids (1987), the moments manifest a human murmuration as participants followed a simple principle:

Cohesion: Have each unit steer toward the average position of its neighbours.

Alignment: Have each unit steer so as to align itself to the average heading of its neighbours.

Separation: Have each unit steer to avoid hitting its neighbours.

During 2021 a series of live Miromations took place, each one using a basic Miro Board. Each event lasted only 5 or so mins.

In referencing Reynolds principle, the Miromations extended the code that was designed to allow computer graphic symbols (boids) to appear life like, into a digital arena in which humans are encouraged to appear ‘code like’. The performance of collective behaviour, following simple rules encouraged designers to consider their relationship with the increasing number of data-driven tools that support digital software. From using AI tools to automatically blur faces in Adobe After Effects, or using tools in Photoshop to change the directional gaze of faces within images, data-driven tools are becoming a new design material (Holmquist, 2017). The repetitive following of the Miromation rule bases, made for a unique online social phenomenon, and (in part) questioned our entanglement within data-driven systems (Churchill et al, 2018).

Miromation #1 DRS Festival of Emergence
Miromation #2 Miromation #3 Miromation #4

References:

Churchill, E., van Allen, P. and Kuniavsky, M. (2018) Introduction. interactions 25, 6 (November – December 2018), 34–37. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3281764

Holmquist, L. E. (2017) Intelligence on tap: artificial intelligence as a new design material. interactions 24, 4 (July-August 2017), 28–33. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3085571

Reynolds, C. W. (1987) Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioral Model, in Computer Graphics, 21(4) (SIGGRAPH ’87 Conference Proceedings) pages 25-34.

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