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Reactive Science Design

In 2021 I started thinking about using the software Touchdesigner to create an open source application which scientists can use for motion design outputs that tickle the senses. In the process I found a partner in Bart van Son, a designer/researcher and alumni of University Leiden, department Media Technology. Two scientists connected to climate research allowed their data to be used for our experiment. 

Gold production & mercury emission

In a conversation with scientists Frits Steenhuisen (Groningen University) and Martine van den Heuvel-Greve (IMARES/Wageningen University) we discovered how artisanal and small scale gold mining can be of significant influence on mercury emissions near the equator and have their effect on the ecosystem in the arctic. With that input we found the base ingredients for an experiment combining data and motion design to create an emotive experience.  

Science & emotion

A second part of our motion research was to search for a balance to bring both an informative as an emotional result, as we think the emotive state of a user can be a catalyst for action. To emphasise this idea we also wanted to incorporate sound. Composer and pianist Phillip Rüttgers delivered a spectrum of tones and chords which gave us the option to combine music with scientific data to create a harmonic or a chaotic situation. This sound library has become part of the result illustrating a result of human action in the need for gold. 

Art installation

We are looking to further develop our design in order to implement an idea of replaceable data input and to further develop a large immersive art installation in which visitors can experience the results of human action on the ecosystem through motion design and music.In this stage we are presenting a series of short films which show you a result of of our particular experiment and we allow the public to download the project as a Touchdesigner file. We encourage designers to further explore our findings.

You can find the clips and downloads at this link to the project page

Concept & design: Udo Prinsen & Bart van Son
Production: Prinsen.Studio
Music: Philipp Rüttgers
Scientists involved: Frits Steenhuisen & Martine van de Heuvel-Greve.
Touch Designer coaching: Stefan Kwint.


My greatest gratitude goes out to Bart van Son, who put a lot of time and effort in digging deeper in Touchdesigner in order to find out what we needed to do to make my initial ideas come to life. 

A lot of thanks go out to the Touchdesigner community. Some of you were kind enough to share thoughts, video's, tutorials, files and tips that helped us further. These people have helped us a great deal: Stefan Kwint, Joseph Wells, Mary Frank, Rui Gato & Bileam Tschepe. 

Support for the experiment came from Creative Industries Fund and Fonds Kwadraat