Ars Electronica 1993
Festival-Program 1993
Back to:
Festival 1979-2007



'Christa Sommerer Christa Sommerer / 'Laurent Mignonneau Laurent Mignonneau


The anthroposcope creates insight into the hidden areas of the "man-plant" relationship, by investigating and representing the unknown and sensitive dialogue of these two forms of life.

The anthroposcope is an instrument for exploring the interactive relationship between man-plant, giving insight into the life signals of both organisms by investigating their extremely fine fields of tension and by expressing them graphically in a three-dimensional microscopic growth program.

The "life of the observer" and the "life of the plant" react to each other and produce "artificial life" in the computer.

This "artificial life" is characterized by growth, movement differentiation and determination: areas which are characteristic for the evolution of living organisms.

"Individuality" as the main feature of life is implemented in the "individuality of artificial micro-organisms" of the growth program by the individuality of the observer and by the individuality of the plants – "artificial life" is breathed into the artificial biotope.

Consequently, the "anthroposcope" is a further step towards the exploration of the secret of "life" by investigating unknown fields of communication in the form of an artificially free interpretation.

Similar to a scanning electron microscope (SEM=REM), three-dimensional molecular, atomic and neuron-like artificial forms are produced in the virtual space of the graphic computer (Silicon Graphics Reality Engine or VGX 320 or Indigo' Extreme) and are introduced into the optics of a microscope.

In comparison to SEM which is bound to extensive preparation processes, these artificial organisms do react directly to the observer by interpreting and representing his fields of tension.
The development and growth of these program-bound bio-organisms is dependent on the individuality of the observer communicating with the plants in front of him by giving his own tension signals to the plants with his approach.

Depending on the frame of mind and physical state of the observer, these tension signals will change and will be compared with the plant's own signals which similarly continue to change.

This "tension dialogue" between man and plant is now transmitted to the growth program on the computer by means of an interface and is incorporated into the molecular virtual microcosmos. This consists of three-dimensional graphically self-generating, free artificial organisms. These organisms produce, are able to grow, expand and move freely in space and disappear again.

Their appearance, shape, their development and growth is exclusively dependent on the observer's personality as when he approaches, he passes on his own tension fields to the living plant.

For example, if the observer changes his tension or his distance to the plant, he will allow new organisms to develop in the microscope.

As this dialogue of the tension differences is a very fine one, the graphic results in the microscope will always be different.

Different observers will achieve completely different growth biotopes; these are the direct expression of the personality of the observer and his relation to the living plant. Even the same person will, in the course of "microscoping", always create new molecular growth forms as their tension field constantly changes and even the relation and distance to the plant constantly varies.

On the other hand, the stages of modulations and changes in the growth program are kept as fine, extensive and open as possible, whereby a large number of variations, individuality in the man-plant relationship and openness for further influences, are guaranteed.

Consequently, the anthroposcope provides the possibility of exploring the unknown areas of "man-plant" communications and of following and co-determining the graphic three-dimensional interpretation of this dialogue in real-time.

All the changes in the formation and representation of these artificial micro-structures can be influenced and controlled by the observer. The modulation stages and the variation possibilities of the micro-structures are kept, however, very open and flexible so that individual personal growth biotopes can develop even without the conscious control of the observer.
The molecular growth program was programmed by Laurent Mignonneau and Christa Sommerer at the "Städelschule" Institute for New Media, in Frankfurt.

It uses special growth algorithms to produce auto-generating artificial living forms which remind us of molecular atomic cellular and neuronal fields.

These forms can only be activated by the man-plant tension-dialogue.

Every form of these "artificial biotopes" follows the "development in time". During their development process, the human-plant tension values exclusively determine the forming and the development of the artificial organisms.

So-called "human and plant randomizing" (life) will largely determine the evolution of the growing and moving organisms by differentiation.

With this, as open a system as possible should be produced that incorporates both human and plant life in order to enable as great a potential as possible of variations and differentiation for "artificial life".

Projekt produced at Städelschule, Institut für Neue Medien, Frankfurt am Main