As children, how can we forget the fascination which our terrariums, aquariums or chemical crystal gardens held over us? Watching beautiful and functional structures emerge and then decay in these dresser-top universes taught us a great deal about life and our own ultimate destiny. The Nerve Garden allows users to plant seeds in a 3D digital terrarium on the Internet and witness the growth of familiar and strange plant and animal structures. Through an artful combination of L-Systems, VRML, Neural Networks, Java, the Web and a mouse and later a dataglove interface, Nerve Garden gives participants the experience of sowing seeds in Cyberspace. Over two hundred people experienced Nerve Garden at the recent SIGGRAPH 1997 Electric Garden Some expressed pride in their petunias while others were unnerved by the realization that life may yet find a way into digital space.
The Nerve Garden islands populated at SIGGRAPH will be served onto the general Internet and so will be visible and cultivatable worldwide. We hope that the experience will encourage some participants to continue digital cultivation in our garden or to host their own plots or Nerves/L-System genetic engineering efforts long after SIGGRAPH.