Interfacing Computational Object



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??

We 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, We 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 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 opposed 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 logic 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.

Github Repository

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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.

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ThingThingThing’s SDK. Contributing to TTT is easy and accessible to anyone. Visit for more information and instruction.

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thingthingthing image ThingThingThing exhibiting at Power Station of Art, Shanghai


Besides the artistic exploration, as a platform, ThingThingThing is designed to be an open world with an extremely accessible interface. It allows the creative, including those who are not from a technical background, to create their own sentient beings, with a simple framework design and developed by ZZYW, and put the beings they created into the world of ThingThingThing. The participants will not only get to know what ThingThingThing is, but leaving with the bare bone knowledge about video game making, the basics of computer programming and procedural thinking.

The list of institutions we have collaborated with:

  • NEW INC, New York
  • Macy Art Gallery, Teachers College, Columbia University;
  • Creative Tech Week(CTW) New York 2018;
  • Asia Art Archive in America
  • Power Station of Art in Shanghai, China