máquina universal bailable

danceable universal machine

un proyecto de chsnec

a project of chsnec

To the extent possible under law, se¿o has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to m.u.b.: máquina universal bailable.

***** página en construcción under construction *****

proceso process

state symbols, extra rules...


new state symbols, along with some new rules.

first of all, here they are "in order"; this diagram in some ways is the "score" and can help with music and lighting cues

a diagram of the state symbols numbered, ordered, and connected by arrows
the diagram with arranged and numbered symbols, along with arrows indicating the possible transitions. click to see the full size png, or get here the svg file

new conventions on human movement

the round symbols indicate shifting towards the origin, crooked symbols indicate shifting away from it.

moving towards the origin implies moving in a low level: four legs or more.
moving away from the origin implies moving in a higher level: four legs or less

the complexity of a shape, given by its number of legs (and rules), would suggest the speed of movement: the more complex, the slower, and viceversa.

(as a guide, the more complex symbol is the one numbered 17 in the diagram)

new conventions on worm movement

the worm is the row of shapes where the computation happens / is stored. borrowing the concept of dynamic equilibrium, it has the following new properties:

as an extra, free blocks in the space can be arranged and transformed into the known shapes, without them needing to be inside the worm

dimensions in sessions 6 and 7

post written in 2019-03-21

we explored moving in three different dimensions, each one with two, three or four "levels":

there are 24 possible combinations, so each state could have of them...

drawn prototype of new state plaques


i used inkscape to draw the new state "plaques". i envision them as three-dimensional objects with enough depth to be handled comfortably. they were made with ideas of self-referentiality, abstraction, and organism(s), present during the process.

the round / clear plaques indicate states where the machine moves towards the origin, whereas the crooked / dark ones indicate states where the machine moves away from it.

the color code is similar to what we have used before: orange is found shape, green is shape to transform to. yellow is a new state to transition, where the shape corresponds to the outline of the plaque. magenta arrows point the direction of the reading(s).

i think they represent well where we are heading - that's why i put them as a background pattern in the mub site :)

23 symbols with arrows and shapes inside them, some of them have round borders, others straight/crooked
click to get the (stil not definitive) svg

sketching v3 state plaques


what if instead of having separate symbols to identify each state
(now that we got rid of numbers, order, hierarchy, with the mayan symbols)
each state was identified by the rules it contains...
the formulas give it its form
the form depends on other forms
abstractions pointing to more abstractions...

a notebook scan showing sketches of different symbols: the shapes inside them give them their shape
a sketch of the new plaques

session five!

2019-03-01 (post written on 2019-03-04)


we were following the sound
maybe too much?
the sound was changing with each state
repeating as needed (but never really the same)

colorful filtered photo of the dance studio with people
click to see a video recording of the rehearsal (61MB ~25 min, webm format)


a group of four dancers surrounded by pieces of wood and paper in the floor
setting up the space...
a dancer carries a piece of paper, the others seem to be moving
a person carries the state plaque
a next step from the previous photo: a dancer carries a piece of paper, the others seem to be moving
the group transforms the worm of shapes
a different dancer holds the piece of paper, others engage with the shapes in the floor
different movement dynamics
one person standing, the other manipulating the shapes on the floor
we act in one shape at a time
a person in the floor looks at another that seems to be running
who's next?
a person stretches their legs to reach a shape in the floor
reconnecting with the floor and objects
a person holds a piece of paper, other two dance
dance, computer, dance
a person manipulates the shapes in the floor
collaborating with the worm of shapes
three people sitting in different ways in the floor
playing in the floor
a person holds a piece of paper, others stretch towards the wall
embracing the space
close up of a person shifting shapes
three dancers gather around the fourth one that is in the floor
the dramaturgy of computation
one dancer holds a piece of paper, another is in the floor with the shapes, a third one is approaching
one step at a time...
animation showing an aspect of the dance: a person rolls in the floor while carrying a piece of paper in their hands, other people look at it and move
following the formulas...
animation showing an aspect of the dance: a person moves the shapes in the floor in an intricate manner
shifting the active shape

media from session four


a photo of pieces of paper and blocks of wood laying down in the floor
cytoplasmic space of objects
a photo of a person reaching to the floor, touching one of many shapes in a row, made of blocks of wood. another person looks from behind
dancing transformations
a photo of two people walking and looking to a third one, that holds and points a piece of paper
following the formulas of the current state


colorful filtered photo of the dance studio with people
click to see a collection of video clips of the session, from a point of view designed to blur boundaries (?) (in webm format)

session four: resources (map and states)


here's the map of states and the document with the 23 state "pages" (soon to be plaques/tablets). see previous post for more info.

a diagram with 23 different symbols joined together by different arrows
map of the finite state machine. click to get the pdf
an animated gif showing a different state page in each frame: each one has a direction arrow, a symbol, and a 'formula' to transform shapes and change states
first prototype of the symbol-based state pages! click to get the pdf

each state page has the following elements:

the order of operations for one step inside a state is as follows. given an active shape (the one outside the row)...

  1. shift to the indicated direction (left or right) and make this the new active shape
  2. look for this new active shape in the orange column of the table of formulas. if you find it:
    1. transform it to the shape in green, if there's one indicated
    2. "call" for a change of state, if there's one indicated
  3. repeat, or disengage

sneak peek of map


couldn't wait to share this before scanning!

minsky's universal machine (minsky, 1967) reimagined and transcribed to our shapes and (new) state symbols.

the symbols come from the new catalog of maya hieroglyphs (macri, 2003) - they are symbols without a settled / decided / known / clear meaning. their ambiguity is ideal for them to get a new breath of life in this work positioned as an alternative to dominant structures...

photo of a drawing showing different mayan symbols interconnected by blue arrows. small shapes can be seen in orange and green, and small arrows in yellow
sneak peek of the new map. click to see a bigger image.

color code:

the starting state is below and to the left :)

envisioning: cytoplasm version


(in the following, by "tablet" i mean a written piece of paper, cardboard, or a carved piece of wood, stone, with inscriptions corresponding to the rules of a single state.)

(human and non-human) objects float around in the space
structures of different sizes constitute "the soup":
a string of shapes
human bodies with tablets
human bodies with blocks
human bodies

they are immersed in air
the air is filled with sound
(an atmosphere)

the soup flows, moves, stops

a human carries a tablet: the current state

the string of shapes has one misaligned: the active shape

while other humans move (or not), with or without objects, some of them can decide to act: they go to the active shape
(the tablet carrier observes)
they move to the next shape (right or left, the tablet says)
they make it active
they transform it if needed
if a change of state is not needed, they move on, they can let go
(confirming with the tablet carrier)

someone else might decide to act
move to the next shape (and make it active)
transform if needed
a change of state should happen!
wait for someone else to notice
they look for the new tablet in the soup
once they find it
(everyone has to notice)
the tablet carrier lets go
the tablet finder becomes a carrier
a new state!
new sonic atmosphere!
and the one who acted can move on

the organism flows, moves, computes
maybe never stops?

notes from session 3


movement exploration
dancing with a piece of wood
(or dancing with a human, from the other point of view)
how do you perform a transformation of shapes?
how do you encounter, acknowledge, and move a shape?

a more self-directed approach for the rule-following
we collaborate
(we need a new block, you give it to me,
we are changing states, i go for the new strips)

some movement suggestions in each state
isn't there enough movement already?

piece of wood and human duet
preparing the six shapes
the six shapes, top view
the space, the row
strips of state rules

notes from session 2


dance studio, sunny windows.
playing in silence
(learning the rules in silence)
collective intelligence, role-taking, understanding

only one cycle, 20 minutes?
possibly there was a mistake
(it didn't matter to us)

why is this a computer? (or where is it?)

pieces of wood that make six different shapes
twenty-three groups of six paper slips

pedestrian movement
time to explore other suggestions...
run, or slow, or change functions
maybe throw the blocks across the air?

photo of a group of six people in a dance room, one of them is reaching the floor to pick something up
setting up the shapes...
photo of a group of six people in a dance room, one of them is reaching the floor to pick something up
the machine moves
photo of a group of six people in a dance room, one of them is reaching the floor to pick something up
photo of a group of six people in a dance room, one of them is reaching the floor to pick something up
photo of a group of six people in a dance room, one of them is reaching the floor to pick something up

resources for the session

a table of symbols
download the printable document with the state cards. cut each sheet in six strips. (update 2019-02-17: state two has two mistakes that will prevent the machine to work like an universal machine :)
a drawing of six shapes
the guide to build the six different types of shapes
a drawing of a row of many shapes
the initial row of shapes*

*technical and possibly irrelevant comment: it describes a 2-states, 2-symbols machine, that writes an alternate sequence of the symbols (e.g. | = | = ) as long as it doesn't find the symbol =. its row of symbols, from right to left, is | | | | = | and its head starts in the rightmost position

notes from session 1


are we the first computer that ever made a mistake & not an error?
- isa

photo of a person putting pieces of paper in the floor, other people look
replacing cylinders for paper...
photo of a person standing besides a row of pieces of paper and cardboard cylinders, other people look
the row of objects changes...
photo of a person standing besides a row of pieces of paper and cardboard cylinders, other people look
one step at a time

the machine worked.
six participants, one per state
(me as an observer)

a lot of interesting questions, issues, ideas, concepts...
is this "interesting" movement?
is this "dehumanizing"?
what's the difference between this done by humans vs this done by machines?
what happens with the inactive bodies?
why it had a mechanical feeling?
can we move in a different way? (why?)
are we functions?
why it got that rhythm?
(what if we make it fast, what if we make it slow)
velcro, collaboration, for objects to be replaced
how many people do we need?
what if an object needed all of us to be moved?
is this labor?
what happens when a game is a performance?
can the audience understand? (do we want them to understand? (do we understand?))
what happens when we do this until exhaustion?
are the theoretical/technical aspects important to enjoy the experience?
will we be able to "bodily understand" what is a computational machine?

resources for the session

drawing of six types of objects: standing plastic cylinder, laying down plastic cylinder, extended piece of paper, folded piece of paper, paper bag, cardboard cylinder
the "board" of the machine/game consisted in a collection of six different classes of objects: standing plastic cylinder, laying down plastic cylinder, extended piece of paper, folded piece of paper, paper bag, cardboard cylinder
drawing of many of the previous objects arranged in a row
for this session we started the machine/game with this configuration. we would be working with it, one slot/object at a time.
drawing of a state card with names of each parts
for us, the players/components of the game/machine, we had a collection of six state cards. each one of them has a number (using the maya numeral system), a direction of movement (either right or left), and then a table of transitions. each column of the table can be read as follows: if you encounter this object (first row), replace for this object (second row, if there's one), and call this state number (third row, if there's one). once the reading of the table of the column is finished, if there was not a state change, the player starts again moving one step.
drawing with the integers from 0 to 7 in maya
this was a small guide for the maya numerals.

the following are the state cards we used in the session. i lost number six (?) and i didn't scan it before. below the cards there is the original sketch i made before deciding the objects.

card for state 1
state 1
card for state 2
state 2
card for state 3
state 3
card for state 4
state 4
card for state 5
state 5
state diagram for session 1
state diagram for sesion 1 (and first part of the universal machine that we'll embody)

image processing done with imagemagick:

$ for f in *JPG; do convert $f -resize 500x500 -dither FloydSteinberg -colors 8 ${f%JPG}gif; done

outline of session 1


a first sketch

january 2019

drawing of a person dancing behind a row of cups and bottles
a sketch of the dance, before thinking it would be a group activity...