eden: an evolutionary sonic ecosystem, copyright 2000-2006 Jon McCormack





The earliest version of eden used a single channel projection system and mouse for user interaction. The world iconography and user interface were presented on screen (image right). The work was written using Macromedia's Director software along with custom plug-ins.
early eden image
    *2000 September

eden premiered at the Casula Powerhouse in Sydney, Australia as part of the Cybercultures: New Life exhibition. The image shows the projected screen with illuminated mouse pad foreground left.

The exhibition ran from September 30 – November 12, 2000.

eden exhibition image

A new version of eden was commissioned for the Melbourne International Film Festival (21 –29 July 2001) as part of the Sideshow exhibition.

This new version featured networked worlds, an improved evolutionary algorithm, multiple screen projection, plus custom soundscapes for each evening that the work was shown.

The images below show the work as exhibited at Cherry Bar, Melbourne in 2001.

eden visualisation

Above: early computer visualisation of the networked installation version.

    eden at cherry bar eden at cherry bay
Motion sensors were embedded in the space to detect the movement of people, creating a reactive relationship between the real and virtual environments. People's movement within the space affected the creatures' empathy towards each other. Also, the biomass 'feeds' off people's movement within the space (an empty room corresponds to a barren environment). Over time, creatures adapt according to the behaviour of people in the space. The creatures learn to make interesting and changing sounds in order to keep people in the installation space, hence to increase their food supply.
    eden image eden image

Two translucent projection screens were created to form an 'X' shape resulting in muli-layered images that appear to float through space and onto the surrounding walls. A four channel sound system was used to create a unique and constantly changing multidimensional sonic landscape – the sonification of the creatures communicating to each other in the world.

A fog machine attenuates the three-dimensional spatial properties of the projections.

eden simulation

Above: computer visualisation of the networked installation version showing sensors, screens and projectors.

    *2001 September
A technical paper on eden is presented at the Sixth European conference on Artificial Life (ECAL), Prague, Czech Republic, September 10-14, 2001.
Technical papers on eden can be downloaded from this page.
eden wins an honorary mention at the Vida/Life 4.0 art and a-life competition in Madrid, Spain.
    *2002 – 2003
The single channel version of eden continues to tour around regional galleries in Australia as part of the Cybercultures touring exhibition.

eden is exhibited as part of a 10 year retrospective on the work of Jon McCormack at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne. The SenseSurround exhibition, curated by Alessio Cavallaro ran from October 7 – November 7 2004.

The monograph Impossible Nature is published by ACMI to coincide with the exhibition. It includes extensive documentation of eden and other works by the artist on DVD.

eden exhibition at ACMI

Work begins on a rewrite (in C++) of eden to take advantage of advances in graphics and sound technology. This new version features video image capture rather than infrared sensors for greater expression in user interaction.

eden exhibition at Daejeon Museum of Art, Korea, as part of Digital Paradise (20.10.2005 – 20.04.2006)

Eden at Daejeon

Above: Daejeon Museum of Art, Korea, with Eden featuring in the Digital Paradise banner.


July 2006: A new version of eden premieres at emoção art.ficial 3.0 (Artificial Emotion, Media Art Biennial), São Paulo, Brazil. This new version uses a computer vision system for interaction.

Newspaper article on Eden from Brazil

Above: Review of Emoçäo art.ficial 3.0 in Brazilian national newspaper features Eden.


eden wins the 2006 John Lansdown prize for interactive digital art. Sponsored by the European association for computer graphics.

Spacio Cultural El Tanque, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Above: Eden at Spacio Cultural El Tanque, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 2007

    *2007 – 2009

eden exhibitions continue in Europe and Asia. In 2009 the software is updated for modern hardware and now runs on a single computer (Mac mini) with external audio hardware.

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan

Above: Eden features in the 2009 Asian Art Biennial, Viewpoints & Viewing Points, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan, 24 October 2009 – 28 February 2010.

  * eden main page images and sounds eden history technical details Jon McCormack main page