Living in the Los Angeles area for most of my life, there is one aspect, one characteristic that stands out. This aspect is easy to get into, but hard to avoid. This characteristic is no ones friend. It affects the rich and the poor alike. The lazy and the hard working. The young and the old. Both male and female.
Its traffic.
This is one of the aspects that drove me away from the city, and is also a main part of Traffic Breeding.
While on the congested highways and freeways of Los Angeles, the driver is bombarded by countless banners and advertisements in the forms of billboards. In addition, as a city continues to get urbanized, the presence of nature decreases. Concrete is poured in to the city and dirt is hauled away. I intend to use both traffic and billboard size monitors/screens to pollinate the highways and freeways of LA with art and nature.

Description of the project:
Predetermined areas of highways and/or freeways will have sensors that will read how many vehicles enter and leave the given area. The rates of change will be displayed on near by billboards and will be represented by scenes of nature. The scenes of nature will be dynamic, flourishing and/or diminishing as a result to the flow of traffic. Some possible events include:

-As the flow of traffic is steady, many vehicles will enter and exit the scan area resulting in a flourishing nature scene.
-As traffic gets congested, fewer vehicles are entering and taking a longer time to exit the scan area, causing the nature scene to perrish.
-If no vehicles enter the scan area and there's a complete lack of activity, the nature scene will change to a dry lifeless desert.

-Technical details:
Sensors: The sensors are an import part of the project. It is vital that the sensors are to be able to recognize when a vehicle has entered the scan area, how long it is in the scan area, and when it has exited the area as well. In addition, the sensors have to determine the size of the vehicles. For these reasons, the project will use specialized laser radar sensors that will only read an area specified for our needs and will be able to rescan the desired area at high rates. The radar sensors will be able to calculate the speed at which the vehicles are traveling and the size of the vehicles within the sensored area. These radar sensors will be positioned atop buildings or telephone poles next to the desired sites and transmit the data over high bandwidth cables to the host computers.


-Visualization of work:
To the right is a simulation of the final visualization. The red area refers to the area that will be scanned by the specialized laser radar sensor. The billboard monitor/screen will be placed many yards away from the scan area so as to give the participants a chanace to see their contribution.

-Note of driver safety
The implementation of this project does not require freeway and highway commuters to participate in any extra activities that would hinder their ability to drive safely. The billboard monitor/screen will not be placed in an area that will hinder the driver's vision. The billboard monitor/screen will be placed where current billboards are found.

Simulation of final visualization

Demonstration of area to be scanned

As long as vehicles enter and exit the scan area, the nature scene will flourish. More so when many vehicles enter and exit the scan area and less when fewer vehicles are present. The lack of activity in the scan area results in the diminish of the nature scene.

Also, the sensors will be able to determine the size of the vehicles in the scan area. With this information, the size of the vehicle will also determine how the nature scene will change. A motorcycle entering the area will introduce a small flower to the nature scene where an 18-wheeler will introduce a small tree. The larger the vehicle, the larger effect it was on the scene. Possible outcomes include:

-If many smaller vehicles are present in the scan area, the nature scene might change to a prairie land.
-If many big rigs are present in the sensored area, the nature scene might change into a forrest.

It is important to note that not all vehicles will create a plant in the nature scene. The presence of some vehicles will aid to the growth of plants already in the scene and other vehicles will generate new plants. A randomizer will be implemented where, for example, every 5th car will generate a plant and all the cars in between will aid to the growth of the plants already generated.

Sound will also respond in a dynamic fashion. The sounds will be sounds of nature, bird chirps, crickets, etc. A chorus might evolve from the sounds of nature, depending on the steady flow of traffic through the scan area. Once traffic becomes congested through the scan area, the sounds will change to the cries of vultures, announcing the presence of death in the air. With fewer vehicles on the road, there will also be fewer amounts of sounds present. With no activity in the sensored area, a lonely blowing wind will accompany the scene of the lifeless desert.

The project will exist at several locations around Los Angeles area freeways and highways. In addition to the presentation of each project at each site via the billboard monitor/screen, all the sites will be viewable on smaller screens at one predetermined site.
Viewers will be able to see in real-time the changes in the scenes of nature as a result of the flow of traffic.

Simulation of final visualization

Billboard monitors/screens: The monitors will almost resemble similar monitors found at sporting events. Since the monitors will be outside, they will be backlit so that they may be viewed in low light levels, such as at night, but will also include sensors that will automatically adjust the brightness of the backlight on the monitor when it is in direct contact with sunlight. This feature will be incorporated for optimal viewing of the scenes.

Sound: Since the project is in the public space, the sound would have to compete with the noise of the freeways and highways. Instead of using loud speakers, the sound will be broadcasted on radio frequencies only around the art projects. The frequencies will be posted on the project's website and near the actual sites. Participants will be able to see and hear the affect they caused to the nature scene while in their automobiles.

Scenes: Since the scenes are dynamic, we will have a large library of vegetation that will grow and die. Each separate plant, tree, etc will be animated in 3D using MAYA or another 3D software package. Though we will be using 3D animation, we will stay away from making the scenes look cartoony. The desired effect is to have the scenes appear to be photo realistic. Everything in the scene will be able to change and no two scenes will be the same.

Implementation: The execution of the project will be on a Mac computer using the latest version of Macromedia Director. Using a similar plug in to "TrackThemColors" for our laser radar sensors, our Director program will receive data from the sensors, process the data, manipulate the nature scene in real time and broadcast the sound.


Links to Artist:
Here are some projects that inspired the concept of Traffic Breeding

-George Legrady
Transitional spaces
A sense of Place
-David Rokeby
Very Nervous System
Guardian Angel
-Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau
Interactive Growing Plant
Trans Plant