Video Feedback

Self-referencing systems often exhibit interesting behaviour. In this simple video feedback installation, it can be seen how coupling a system with itself leads to self-organization and complex phenomena like pattern formation. The mathematics underlying the video feedback are similar to the reaction-diffusion equations that are attributed to the pattern formation in nature such as the stripes and spots of animals like zebras and leopards (Turing Pattern).

Video feedback is the process that starts and continues, when a video camera is pointed at its own playback video monitor. Many artists have used optical feedback, for example Queen in their music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975). The effect (in the simplest case) can be compared to looking at oneself between two mirrors. Video feedback is actually just one particular example of optical feedback. The perhaps most obvious example of optical feedback in science is an optical cavity, which can be found in almost every laser. An optical cavity typically consists of two mirrors facing each other, therefore light can be captured in between. In the late 1990s it was found, that so-called unstable-cavity lasers produce light beams whose cross-section show a fractal pattern. Similar fractals can easily be visualized using this setup.

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