Artificial Nature as an Infinite Game

Graham Wakefield, Haru (Hyunkyung) Ji

You may remember experiences from your childhood, such as playing with your fingers in the flow of a river, or in the path of small marching insects, to alter the emerging patterns. Such play is a direct interaction with complex systems, provoking deep insights and aesthetically fascinating natural patterns; ludic investigation may be considered as an infinite game. We approach this subject as cross-disciplinary research through the development of a media-art project: "Artificial Nature."

The project is an audio-visual art installation bringing forth a world of aesthetic play through the embodiment of complex multi-layered and inter-modulating systems. The installation consists of a projection of a virtual world, with touch-screen and additional sensor interfaces. The virtual world is a visualization of information flow in open dynamical and dissipative systems, interweaving geological, physico-chemical and biological strata. Within this world, evolutionary developmental ('evo-devo') growth is modeled to evoke truly autopoietic virtual lifeforms. Spectators can witness, control and create beautiful, complex and generative patterns evolving from the behaviors of the species, while the organisms in turn interact with their open dynamic environment. As a spectator gives his/her input through the touch screen or other sensors, he/she may change local fields of the environment, landscape or physical laws, and actively observe how the feedback systems produce new behavioral patterns.

As an endlessly generative system of abstract images and sound, the locus of artistic authorship (the artist, the participant, the system) is not easy to place; we consider this to be but one aspect of its nature as an infinite game. Our presentation explores the numerous layers of this notion in the embodied art project, discussing its ludic features and artistic, technical and philosophical potentials.

Project Website: http://www.mat.ucsb.edu/~wakefield/artificialnature
Aritist Websites: http://www.haru.name, http://www.grahamwakefield.net

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