Nerve Garden

A Virtual Terrarium in Cyberspace

(requires VRML97 viewer such as Cortona from Parallel Graphics, automatic download available)

See Nerve Garden VRML islands created at SIGGRAPH 1997 here

Story of Nerve Garden
The paper, Nerve Garden: A Public Terrarium in Cyberspace

Try out the LACE germinator Java Applet below:

Check out the Nerve Garden LACE Germinator Java Applet by Chris Laurel
which allows you to extrude your own L-system plants!

Try Another variation with Karen Marcelo's early browser-based VRML NG redition including "air horse".

Screen shots of original Nerve Garden interface with control panel

The Garden Isles planted by
SIGGRAPH 97 Attendees

You must download and intall a VRML client to view these creatures,
try Cosmo Player from CAI, or Cortona from Parallel Graphics

Nerve Garden Archives

of our Siggraph Electric Garden booth.

Digital Biota held the Nerve Garden Workshop at
ALIFE VI, June 26, 1998 at UCLA

Publications and press coverage of Nerve Garden

Wired News coverage at SIGGRAPH 97 Virtual Plants, Insects Twine through Net (2005 link) and archived Wired News story
The paper, Nerve Garden: A Public Terrarium in Cyberspace

Book Chapters

Nerve Garden: Germinating Biological Metaphors in Net-based Virtual Worlds
Artificial Life Models in Software by Andrew Adamatzky and Maciej Komosinski
Springer (2005)

"Technological Herbarium" by Gianna Maria Gatti (in Italian), coming soon in English and German editions (2009)
Review and coming translations by Alan Shapiro here


Nerve Garden won an Honorable Mention in the .net category of Ars Electronica 1998 see the Ars Nerve Garden Page here

Nerve Garden & other Cyberbiological Worlds of

Bruce Damer

Cyberspace is now evolving beyond being merely an "interface" (something you just point and click on) to becoming a true "place" (which you enter and inhabit). Hundreds of thousands of people now enter 3D cyber-cityscapes, communicating through digital bodies called "avatars" (visit ). As the human colonization of Cyberspace begins, one might ask, will life follow us into digital space, and why? Human civilization is in fact a collective of evolving biota and there is no reason to doubt that several forms of this biota will find their way into a sufficiently rich Cyberspace. Digital biota, freed of the constraints of atomic body mass, will evolve much more rapidly and travel at light-speed through networks or even beyond out into the solar system. The digital form of life could well become the chrysalis phase of new matter biota spun into atoms through molecular nanofabrication. And why would life do this? The destruction of the Earth and all that dwell at the bottom of its gravity well is assured once the sun enters old age as a red giant. The best route out of the hatchery is on wings of light.

The project was initiated in 1995 to provide a pathway for biological function and form to enter and energize an inhabited virtual world Cyberspace. Inspired by the synthetic ecosystem works of researchers and artists such as Tom Ray, Karl Sims, Larry Yeager, Demetri Terzopoulos and others, brings the dedicated of many disciplines together in conferences and in projects. Nerve Car-den I was one such early project. In Nerve Garden's many jungle islands in the net, visitors used ordinary home computers to germinate their own mutations of plants from mathematical logic called L-systems. They then placed these plants on an island of their choice and rode the backs of insects around the emerging world. Algorithmically generated light-ening and sound flashed and reverberated across these strange new lands. Future versions of Nerve Garden will provide an ecosystem so that the gardens will continue to grown and be consumed by the "polyvore" polygon eating creatures. One last thing: I don't want to sound like I did it all myself. My coutributors to the project are: Todd Goldenbaum, Chris Laurel, Karen Marcelo, Frank Revi, Markus Roskothen.Tim Riley.


2009 Screen shots from the Garden in action

Older (1997) Screen shots from the Garden in action

Lightning strikes over some early residents

The butterfly gets an aerial view of the action

Never look directly into the sun, kids. NEVER!
(evidently, you might be struck by lightning)

The bee makes its way across the isle


The Site coverage of and Nerve Garden at SIGGRAPH
Heidi Swanson's Feature on VRML.SGI.COM
Nerve Garden is published in 2000 Leonardo and 1998 Digital Salon Leonardo
Also published in the conference proceedings for Virtual Worlds 98
The draft Nerve Garden Paper for VRML98

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