A teleidoplex is a conceptual mechanism for understanding how people create new art and ideas from existing material, and how those new products change the world through changing the stories we tell. It is a model for how the process of telling a story changes the story being told. It is a metaphor for interactivity in art, one that acknowledges the often unspoken collaboration between the artist, the audience, and the world in which the work is being created.

It’s also a very fun word to say.

Consider a kaleidoscope. This toy is a contained universe of mirrors and colored glass. Light comes in through a lens on one end, and by looking through a viewport on the other, you can see infinite ordered patterns created by the interaction between the mirrors, the light, and the chaotic jumble of colored bits and bobs.

With a kaleidoplex, those patterns are projected onto a screen, producing a shifting variety of never-repeated images from limited source material.

A teleidoscope works along a similar model as a kaleidoscope, except that it takes in images from the outside world. Mirrors refract the images. Because the source is more varied than bits of plastic in a tube, the images also are more varied.

A natural extension of these three viewers would be a teleidoplex. A teleidoplex, would project outside images back onto the outside world, but only after they have been refracted within the mechanism. Unlike the other toys mentioned, a teleidoplex opens up the possibility that part of the intake will be the current output, creating an indirect feedback loop.

An interesting example is the term “teleidoplex” itself. When I first began toying with the term in early 2007, I googled it. I didn’t get any hits. There was no entry on Wikipedia. From a particular perspective, the term “didn’t exist”. The first google hits came from (and still are) blog entries and comments that I’ve made using the term. But I didn’t invent the concept. All the bits and bobs were there. I just took what was already there, chugged it through my mind (my own teleidoplectic mechanism), and back out onto the world.

I’m in the process of building an electronic teleidoplex using cameras to see what effects will be created on the physical imaging level. I would love, at some point, to build a mechanical teleidoplex using light and mirrors. I am also building a metaphysical teleidoplex in the form of a series of novels that use the concept as their operating metaphysic. Updates forthcoming on each of these processes.


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