Sean Healy on Tue, 19 Jun 2001 06:48:14 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Data Sperm

Have put some more articles up at:

Data Sperm - Exploring Artificial Life with Melbourne artist Jon
McCormack - 3d, Jun 01, which I've put below as well.....

Girl Play - I/v with Van of DMC comix, & her sassy nineMSN threatened
webzine - 3D, Jun 01.
Cindii I/v -Sydney's answer to Daft Punk - 3D, 01.
Pixel Graf - beatboxing, 3d Graf & vr homeboy, Luke Illett - 3D - 01.
Phone(y) Home(y) - mish mash of fone related stuff, 3D 01.
Dial -A-Pizza-Media - Ramblings is all, 3D, 01.
Vinyl Video - use your turntable and the TV at the same time with this!


Data Sperm
Nervously a 3D Woody Allen paces outside a polygon Sperm Bank. Polly is
indeed gone, the nurse of his fantasies already gone home with his
analyst. Virt.nature would soothe, but is hard to find in
Virt.Manhattan. Mr.Allen clicks to Virt.Melb, coincidentally the locale
of one Jon McCormack, who since 86 has been creating Electronic Gardens
of Artificial Life, Self Generating Ecosystems, and acoustic and virtual
environments that respond to weather conditions and audience responses.
Jean Poole did the virt.handsake thing, and got this to keep:

How did you get involved with computer animation?
I started out studying mathematics, but I never really liked it until I
discovered you could look at all those funny symbols in graphical form.
You could actually see abstract symbols and relationships made visible /
material through graphics technology. The next year I went to film
school at Swinburne where they had computers that made animations. It
was a revelation. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do, and since then
Iíve been using computers for creative applications to explore the
aesthetics of processes.

Where has animation  gone since you've been playing with it?
Itís become much easier since I started (in the mid 1980ís). A lot of
software people had to write in the early days is now incorporated into
animation systems, but fundamentally they all work in the same way.
However I find most of the modern animation packages very disappointing,
because they operate under a very limited aesthetic, essentially trying
to mimic reality, rather than looking at an expanded representation of
what computers might offer.

What attracts you to artificial life and ecosystems?
I suppose itís the way they can often have these kind of emergent
properties, with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. I
like the way they can surprise you and behave in ways that you never
planned or expected. Iím also attracted to adopting the "metaphor" of
process-based systems, particularly living systems, since they are such
a rich source of creativity.

How far has work in this area advanced?
Calling something "artificial life" is easy, but just because you call
it life doesnít mean that its really alive in any sensible sense. Many
layers of complexity exist in the natural world that are ignored in
a-life simulations, because computers canít handle all that intricacy.
Itís surprised me how few biologists want to get involved in core a-life
research. Maybe b-life is already too much of a challenge. We are a long
way off from even matching the real complexity of a single cell in any
a-life simulations, so there is still a long way to go yet.

What are the major A-Iife debates at the moment?
Could any computer simulation ever genuinely be called "alive" (strong
Alife) or only ever be a simulation (weak A-life)? I tend to think the
latter. Another major debate (that extends to cognitive science and AI)
is the internal representation of concepts and the embodiment of
meaning, although not all A-life models specifically reference this

Douglas Adams said weíll grow artificial intelligence rather than design
it - what do you think?
Itís easy to get carried away with the notion of "growing" and
"evolving" almost anything, but this approach may only be suitable for a
limited set of problems. The problem of "intelligence" is very complex
and varied, and a number of milestone results in AI have been achieved
without using evolutionary algorithms. Nonetheless, ideas like growing
intelligence come from the fact that our own intelligence is in some
sense grown; i.e. that we evolved from "less intelligent" species over
millions of years and also that our own learning
processes have much to do with our physicality in the world (most
computers have very little in the way of physical experience).

What's the relationship between technology and your creative process?
My main interests lie in how interactive, process-based models allow us
to interpret and understand the world in new ways. Certainly recent
technological advances in, for example, real-time 3D graphics, have
advanced the possibilities for investigating these ideas.

What are your favourite pieces of software and why?
I guess with all modesty aside Iíd say my own software is what I like
using the best. Software is the implementation of ideas in a technology
that is "perpendicular" to the brain. The two complement each other very
well, if the software is implemented in the right way.

How has using technology shaped your art & thinking (good & bad)?
It has benefits and difficulties. I am very conscious of the "digital
aesthetic" that limits most technological works, and that computers
arenít designed as "art machines", and carry a lot of cultural
limitations from the disiplines where they were born (e.g.
military/industrial, science, engineering, "American Ideology" and so

What will you say to your waking software daughter?
I have enough trouble relating to my human one at the moment.
(&  is where this article be alive and kickiní )

Jonís Life Online:
Cheq tha electronic artworks, installations, videos, and wads of reading
on generative modelling for electronic media, electronic sound
synthesis, and music composition, organic modelling techniques for
computer graphics and philosophical and cultural issues concerning
Artificial Life and Artificial Nature. Good resource page too, with
x-hibition, software, music and other links.

Jonís Favourite Website:
Jeanís clue: eoti = End of the Internet.

Create your own Herbivore
And then see how it survives this 3d environment, complete with email
updates from your creature. My Datasperm, poor child, was killed by the
predator ĎJawsí, after much hunting for food and surviving other

Nettime-bold mailing list