Poiesis - A Real-Time Generative Artwork

How might we design and construct a cinematic model of the cosmos that can be displayed as an ambient and ever-changing generative artwork?

‘Poiesis’ is a privately commissioned real-time generative portal to a dynamically simulated universe. The work is site specific. Viewers of the artwork glimpse unique parts of the cosmos that are generated on the fly exclusively for that moment; from alien worlds to planetary systems, black holes to nebulae and star clusters.

The artwork is designed to generate upwards of 2,147,483,648 possible unique cinematic journeys. In order to see all of the possible combinations it would take 122,491.987 years (give or take a few).


Poiesis was created with Unreal Engine, extended with custom-made technology. FutureDeluxe released the following video that gives a glimpse of the development process:


This project was a private commission to FutureDeluxe. I did lead the development team over a period of over a year until delivery.

Amongst other things, I wrote custom components and plugins for Unreal Engine in C++, such as the show-control system which allows smooth transitions between different real-time-generated artwork chapters. As a chapter is nearing its end, assets and elements for the next chapter are preloaded and pre-generated invisibly in the background so that they are instantly ready when we flip to the next chapter.

I advised artists in applying best practices when programming with Blueprints, and reviewed almost all the code, whether it was Blueprint, C++ or shader graphs.

I wrote a plugin which uses compute shaders within Unreal’s programmable rendergraph for a Physarum simulation which could be used by artists via Unreal Blueprints.

Simulated mycelium growth generated with a custom-made Unreal Engine Physarum plugin. Countless variations can be generated by changing starting states for the simulation.

I designed & wrote the system that would generate cinematic journeys through the generated universe by travelling a graph weighted with probabilities.

I spent many hours chasing down hitches and stutters using Unreal Insights and other tools, in the process learning more than is healthily recommended about the internals of Unreal Engine, so that we could guarantee smooth rendering at almost 5k resolution, with no hitches, at a frame rate averaging 60HZ.

See also 

Poiesis at futuredeluxe.com


Studio Future Deluxe (FD)
Designed, directed & produced – FutureDeluxe
Team Tim Gfrerer
Svet Lapcheva
Curtis Baigent
Arturo Castro
Marc Winklhofer
Andrea Zucchetti
Steve Watts Kennedy (Kuva)
Matteo Zamagni
James Lee
Lukas Schmeck
Caleigh Illerbun
Kristian Glenn
Ben Black
Matthias Winckelmann
Jacob Spacek
Marcus Chaloner
Will Denning
Music [Film] Mihalis Shammas
Music [R&D & Trailer] Seven Orbits
Promotional Edits Laurence Green + Carla Thomas (Okay Studio)



Further Posts:

OpenFrameworks Vulkan Renderer: The Journey So Far writeup vulkan real-time software design
Simulated surface crazing using a fragment shader writeup math
Presidential Holiday Trees work writeup
High Flying Ultrabooks work writeup
Ghost art writeup work
Supermodel Interactions work writeup
The Making of a Cannon work writeup