an interactive, self-generating, artificial ecosystem. A cellular
world is populated by collections of evolving virtual creatures.
Creatures move about the environment, making and listening to sounds,
foraging for food, encountering predators and possibly mating with
each other. Over time, creatures evolve to fit their landscape. eden has
four seasons per year and each year lasts 600 eden days. One eden
year passes by in about fifteen minutes of real time. A simple physics
dictates only three basic types of matter in the Eden world: rocks, biomass and sonic
can get more details about eden (including
photos, sounds and video) in the book Impossible
Nature: the art of Jon McCormack. The
book also includes a DVD with video documentation of eden exhibited
at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2004.
papers & details
eden images& sounds
artist's home page
creatures begin life with little knowledge. Over time, they change,
learning to adapt to their environment. Evolution of behaviour
leading to mating usually takes about five eden years to discover.
Behaviours that are more complex emerge between seven and seventy-five
eden years and beyond. Many creatures die during this time. If
a creature can mate before it dies, it passes on its genetic material
to its offspring, who inherit the capabilities of their parents
(as behaviour learnt during a parent’s lifetime is passed
to its offspring: eden uses Lamarckian evolution).
creatures can see (at short distances) and hear. The sounds you
hear while eden is running are the sounds
the creatures make. They can recognise the tonal ‘colour’ of
the sound they hear and identify its direction. Through evolution,
the creatures learn to make sounds and to hear the sounds of others.
The work generates a sonic landscape that is experienced by people
within the installation space while eden is evolving.
is only made by a creature if it improves survival.
example, in some evolutions of eden,
creatures use sound to help them mate
or find food. In other evolutions, they use sound to keep people
within the physical space of the installation. This is achieved
by placing sensors around the installation that detect human movement.
Their movement and presence is mapped to the food supply for the
creatures. If there are no people, the food supply dries up and
the creatures starve to death. By making ‘interesting’ sounds,
the creatures can keep people in the installation space, thereby
increasing their food supply. On some occasions the creatures have
learnt to use sound to keep people within the space, hence increasing
their chances of survival. A symbiotic relationship develops between
eden’s audience and its artificial life.
eden could be considered an artificial life world that uses sound, or
a generative composing system for experimental sound and image.
One of the aims of the work is to exploit the emergent properties
that result from the relationship between the people who experience
the work and the open-ended nature of artificial evolution.