Wish is a project developed by artists Vicky Isley and Paul Smith (aka boredomresearch) at the National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University UK. In Wish boredomresearch use a simple physics simulation to revisit the eastern myth of the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in Hong Kong. Visitors to these trees write their wish on a yellow paper tied to an orange. Then they try their luck at getting it to hang on one of the branches of the wishing tree. If your wish hangs in the tree it will come true, if not the myth claims that you have made your wish too greedy.
Visitors to the online wishing tree can attempt to cast a wish onto a tree generated in software. After they have typed their wish they click, stretch and ping then watch and wait as it flies through the air. Should they be successful their wish will sit by others on the tree. Otherwise, wishes missing all branches fall to the floor scattering their individual characters to the dust. Visitors may also like to take the time to explore wishes left by other users. By clicking and stretching the hanging ribbons you release a stream of characters into the air which aggregate momentarily to reveal a wish before dissipating and allowing each character to drift off the screen.
The database technology used allows us to store but not grant successful wishes. As one user wishfully submits to the tree “I wish that my wish would really become reality by casting it into a computer” they note our inability to write wish granting software. In the case of the wishing tree we add weight and gravity to that which is weightless ethereal and of the mind. Unlike the real tree the weight and gravity are simulated and our belief suspended only momentarily.
The domain of web technology is normally geared towards speed and efficiency. In Wish we use a simple physics simulation to build in a time consuming inefficiency that cuts against the web technologist normal preoccupation with speed and efficiency. In turn we add an element of chance hope and intrigue to what is effectively a very simple message board.
In addition to the physics based interface boredomresearch developed new interactive generative software to recreates the decrepit appearance of fruit trees seen in Japanese Edo Period Paintings (1600-1868) and a 2D renderer that displayed a stylized graphic representation of these tree structures.
Visitors to the wishing tree are encouraged to leave a little of them self behind and overtime the tree blossoms with the loves losses fears and desires of its community. The sensitive aesthetics, imaginative interaction, combined with sometimes trivial, often moving, messages combine in a poetic expression of our shared humanity.
Examples of user’s wishes left on Wish:
“I wish for my dream job...dream life….dream man and world peace”
“I wish I hadn’t eaten so much curry”
“I wish I had the patience to persevere a little longer!”
“I wish the cards were right”
“I wish that murderers were easier to cuddle at night”
This version of Wish is the second edition created for the ComputerFineArts.com collection. The project was supported by Folly, new media arts organisation in Lancaster UK who commissioned the first edition of Wish.