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IFF Directors Talks

IFF Directors Talks 2012
IFF Directors Talks 2011
IFF Directors Talks 2010
IFF Directors Talks 2009


Previous IFF Lectures

Exhibition Opening and Fractal Unveiling
Doheny Library, University of Southern California
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 57pm

A Lecture by Ryan and Trevor Oakes
Sat. September 22, 2012 @ 68pm

Theoretical and Practical Explorations of Space

@ Hayward Gallery, London
June 12–14, 2012

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim speaks at Art Center College of Design
June 22, 2011 @ 7pm
With Dr. Jerry Schubel, President and CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific

Captain Charles Moore Talks About Plastic Trash
[IFF-L22] Saturday Jan 17, 2009

IFF Director Margaret Wertheim
Neuroscience Discussions at the LA Public Library

[IFF-L21] October 2 + November 10, 2008

Seeing Anew [IFF-L20]
A lecture by Trevor and Ryan Oakes
at Machine Project Sunday, June 24 @ 7pm

The Logic Alphabet of Shea Zelleweger[IFF-L19]
A discussion with the IFF and Dr. Shea Zelleweger
at Foshay Masonic Lodge Saturday, March 3 @ 5pm

Structural Considerations of the Business Card Sponge[IFF-L17]
By Dr. Jeannine Mosely
Sunday, September 10 @ 8pm

The Insect Trilogy
@ Telic Arts Exchange
How Flies Fly [IFF-L14]
By Dr Michael Dickinson
The Ecology of a Termite's Gut [IFF-L15]
By Dr Jared Leadbetter
What is it Like to be a Spider? [IFF-L16]
By Dr Simon Pollard

Where the Wild Things Are 2:
A Talk About Knot Theory
By Ken Millett
at The Drawing Center in NY.

Where the Wild Things Are 2
by Ken Millett
at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Things That Think:
A hands-on history of physical computation devices.

by Nick Gessler [IFF-L12]

Where the Wild Things Are:
A Talk about Knot Theory

by Ken Millett [IFF-L11]
at The Foshay Masonic Lodge (Culver City)

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane:
A conversation on non-euclidean geometry and feminine handicraft

by Dr. Daina Taimina and IFF Director Margaret Wertheim [IFF-L10]

Darwinism on a Desktop:
Sodaplay and the Evolution of a Digital World

by Ed Burton [IFF-L9]

The Logic Alphabet
by Christine Wertheim [IFF-L8]

Why Things Don't Fall Down
A Talk About Tensegrities
by Robert Connelly [IFF-L7]

The Art and Science of Child’s Play

By Norman Brosterman [IFF-L6]

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L5]
A Talk by David Henderson and Daina Taimina

The Mathematics of Paper Folding [IFF-L4]
by Robert Lang

The Physics of Snowflakes [IFF-L3]
by Kenneth Libbrecht

Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane [IFF-L2]
by Daina Taimina and David Henderson

The Figure That Stands Behind Figures:
Mosaics Of The Mind
by Robert Kaplan


Previous Events

Crochet Hyperbolic Workshop
Proteus Gowanus gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Hyperbolic Crochet Workshop:
a celebration of feminine handicraft and higher geometry and a homage to the disappearing wonder of coral reefs.

at The Institute For Figuring – Special Collections

A workshop on crocheting the hyperbolic plane.
at the Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles.


The fourth in our 2005 lecture series
entitled Figuring Minds

Friday, July 29 @ 7:30 pm
Sodaplay and the Evolution of a Digital World

by Ed Burton [IFF-L9]

At Telic in Chinatown / Los Angeles
975 Chung King Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

They crawl, they hop, they slink and they undulate. Some roll, some fly and others unfold into complex forms from a simple triangle. These “creatures” are the products of an extraordinary evolutionary experiment that now involves more than 100,000 people worldwide. Each of these forms has been created through a program called the sodaconstructor that enables users to build models that increasingly resemble living organisms. Over the past five years a global community has brought forth from this digital mud a Cambrian explosion of species: walkers, stalkers, floaters and flyers; things that tumble and skip; simulations of spiders, crabs and starfish; monopeds, bipeds, tripeds and centipeds; self-propelling squares, and a mobius strip that turns itself inside out. This imaginary Galapagos resides on a server in the Shoreditch area of London’s east end in the office of Soda Creative, an innovative company that specializes in producing software at the boundary of art and education. (

The architect of this online world is Ed Burton, an artist and computer programmer. Burton designed his soda-software as a virtual toy based around the principles of the engineering discipline known as Control and Dynamic Systems. Each model is made up from a set of points and lines: some of the lines are simple springs and act as a kind of soft skeleton; others act like muscles and can change length. In effect, the structures may be seen as virtual tensegrities. By connecting points in various arrangements of lines, structures can be given an internal logic that causes them to move. From these simple beginnings sodaplay users have evolved ever more complex mechanisms that can now mimic such sophisticated tasks as bipedal walking and multi-wheeled rolling. In this talk Burton will discuss the evolution of the sodaplay universe and the processes by which the community of soda constructors collectively develop new styles of form and function within this software world.

All images courtesy of Soda Creative
Ed Burton is R&D director for Soda Creative. ( He is a graduate of the Center for Electronic Arts at Middlesex University where, for his master’s thesis, he wrote a graphics program called ROSE (Representation Of Spatial Experience) that simulates children’s drawings. Given a three-dimensional model of a horse or a house, ROSE outputs its own rendition of a juvenile sketch. Burton is currently working on a new version of this software that learns from its previous experience. When designing his sodaconstructor program for building virtual engineering models, Burton was inspired by computer pioneer Seymour Papert’s constructivist notion of “creative play.” In the next iteration of the software, users will be given the power to make up their own sodaplay rules.
These three structures by esteemed soda-constructor, Kevino

In addition to Burton, we will also be joined by Kevin Okada, aka Kevino, one of the most innovative and imaginative soda-constructors. Kevino is the architect of some of the most enigmatic soda-models, including Inspyre, (pictured in the middle above). Calling to mind a balletic octopus, Inspyre is driven by a central "motor" comprised of two square cogs rotating in opposite directions. To this central drive mechanism, four tentacle-like fronds have been appended, their graceful undulations imparting to the whole an undeniably organic quality. Kevino has also been one of the innovators of a sodaplay mechanism known as "pre-tensioned flex linkages" or "flex chains," a technology he has exploited to make models that resemble psychaedelic jellyfish and hypnotic mechanical butterflies (also above). A gallery of his models can be seen online at the website of the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts: soda/sodaplay.htm. Offline, Okada is a resident of the San Fernando Valley who works for the Aussie Racing Apparel company. As a child he was obsessed with Tinkertoy constructions and once built a working physical model of a digging machine out of Tinkertoy parts, driven by the motor from a discarded cassette player.

An interactive sodaplay exhibit will be on display at Telic during the evening.

For documantation of the lecture, please look at the photo gallery.

Link to Cabinet interview with Ed Burton.