Interfacing Computational Objects


Since a decade ago, we begin to witness the rapid computationization of everyday objects. We no longer see each other directly, but through color pixels sustained by binary codes and electronic signals. Interfacing reality through Computational Object alters our perception of it in a drastic yet invisible way. To reveal this tension, we initialized the Interfacing Computational Object series.

What is a Computational Object?

ZZYW created a new vocabulary to address the subject of our examination: Computational Object(CO). CO is properties, variables, and functions associated with the digital and sometimes physical representation of an identity. It is a tool and a non-tool, a radical and imaginative realism that challenges the notion that things only exist within the purview of human conception.


Borrowing video game as a playground to reenact this tension in a designed environment, ZZYW invented its own making based research methodology: 

  • Players create their own computational objects, and set it loose. The creator loses direct access to their objects. The object takes on its agency. 
  • Collectively, these Objects forming a system, display a level of complexity beyond individual creators’ comprehension. 
  • The active making and passive observation reveals a process – complex computational system emerges as the result of a collection of simple rules governing computational objects’ individual and group behaviors in a controlled environment. 

Simulation: ThingThingThing

ThingThingThing v1

ThingThingThing is a generative narrative made collectively, as a playful examination of Computational Object.

Players play ThingThingThing by being part of it. Every object in the world of ThingThingThing is contributed by an individual player. As oppose to commanding objects directly using a controller, ThingThingThing’s framework asks the players to code behaviors patterns of the objects using computer language. Once the objects are spawned into the world of ThingThingThing, they become autonomous, follows their logics and make decisions on the go based on their real-time state and surrounding environment. The object would interact with other objects and forming an endless narrative as a whole.

ThingThingThing v2

ThingThingThing explores the possibility of using open source platform as a way to make narrative collectively, in an effort to redefine what it means to co-create in the age of Internet.

Upcoming Game: COWG

COWG is a web-based, multiplayer game. Players play COWG by creating their Object and program it with a set of rules, then observing it playing out the rules in the simulated world.