Reaction-diffusion experiments

I’ve been playing around with reaction-diffusion morphogenesis simulations lately, to see if I can come up with some cool art. Turing theorized this system over a half century ago, so it’s no surprise that people have explored the area pretty thoroughly. It’s hard to come up with new ideas, but my recent interest in VJing led me to ponder animated patterns of reaction-diffusion.

Reaction-diffusion animations can mean simply displaying the morphogenesis simulation as it progresses, but I wanted to try something a bit more different. Given that the patterns form deterministically in the simulation, I hypothesized that subtle changes in the initial state of the simulation would lead to subtle changes in the stabilized pattern. Thus my idea was that, by slightly varying the random substrate in a coherent manner between each frame, the resulting patterns would be coherent, meaning continuously wriggling labyrinths and shifting spots.


Alas, my first attempts unfortunately failed to produce anything artistically interesting. While my general hypothesis was correct, the animation is dominated by infrequent, abrupt popping updates, rather than the slowly shifting patterns I was hoping for. I may be able to make something interesting out of this by computing differences from frame to frame and interpolating between them for a longer period in the animation. In any case, further experimentation is needed.