Ars Electronica 1993
Festival-Program 1993
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Festival 1979-2007


A brief Genealogy of Artificial Life

'Ayre Wachsmuth Ayre Wachsmuth

Unlike the natural science models we know from the museum, which can be seen as manifestations of progress and symbolic evidence of a high level of knowledge, a different kind of model is taking shape here. Stereo-lithographic models are to be created which draw on, and show, ideas and visions (concerning Artificial Life) taken from literature, films, and science, regardless of whether they conform to reality or fiction.

These ideas and examples range from Arthur Rimbaud's vision of man in the future to "Blood Music" by Greg Bear. The main character in this book is injected with body-changing, intelligent lymphocytes. This change is sometimes a change of the spinal column, which becomes a construction reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller. C.D. Simak's "CITY" appeared in the USA in 1952 and is a story of people and dogs in the future. An important detail is that man teaches "his best friend", the dog, to talk. This is achieved through operative surgery on the dog's larynx to change the vocal cords. This ability to talk is then genetically passed on to further generations.

A "kink", fractal growth models, a woman living in a drop of water, a snake with a serial number, and other things crop up. Apparently packaged in a conventional museum-like form of presentation, these models do not stand for the already proven and valid, but for what is inherently open and "doable". In other words: "Only when we are able to view life-as-we-know-it in the larger context of life-as-it-could-be will we really understand the nature of the beast". (2)

The stereo-lithographic models are geometrically constructed and designed using CAD and 3-D modelling (ALIAS) and then synthetically constructed with the aid of polymer chemistry. These beginnings of material and thematic association (synthesis) of individual parts, into a new whole (like other processes for the production of organic or inorganic compounds), can be symbolically represented here as a connection or bridge between art and science. As for the future, it could be asserted that: "Nature will be known and remade through technique and will finally become artificial, just as culture becomes natural". (3)

In other words: Cross Culture and Cross Nature.

Sterolithografie: Ein Verfahren zur Erzeugung dreidimensionaler Musterteile und Modelle mit Lasertechnik und CAM/CAD aus lichthärtendem Kunststoff. back

Christopher G. Langton: Artificial life, volume VI, Santa Fe Institute studies in the sciences of complexity, 1987. back

Paul Rabinow: Artificiality and Enlightment: From Sociobiologiy to Biosociality, Zone Band 6/Incorporations 1992 N. Y. back