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 hope someday to build 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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