"Within fifty to a hundred years, a new class of organisms is likely to
emerge. These organisms will be artificial in the sense that they will
originally be designed by humans. However, they will reproduce, and will evolve
into something other than their original form; they will be "alive"
under any reasonable definition of the word . . . The advent of artificial life
will be the most significant historical event since the emergence of human
beings . . . " James Doyne Farmer
Institute for Global Futures
2084 Union St. San Francisco CA 94123
Charles Ostman, Senior Fellow, 510 549 0129
Evolution into the Next Millennium - Charles
Aesthetic Exploration in the "Virtual Nature" of Synthetic
Environments and Artificial Ecologies
Institute for Global Futures
Asthetic Exploration in the "Virtual
Nature" of Synthetic Environments and Artificial Ecologies
As a design strategy, I propose that the human species has been
deliberately "programmed" to respond to the asthetic content inherent
with nature with a depth of emotional engagement which transcends mere "logical"
or reasoned responses. This may be in part due to the fact that the human
species is the only lifeform which currently possesses the ability cause
considerable negative affects to the biosphere's life supporting capacity, if
not the potential for rendering the irreversable suppression of the global
ecosystems to continue to function in a viable fashion.
Therefore, if such a supposition can be considered plausible, it
offers the speculatory potential for ex-perimentation in the arena of utilizing
artificial life forms, genetic and mutational operators, and other process
dynamics which mimic the physiological and behavioral attributes of living
organisms and ecosystems, to generate asthetic content in synthetic
environments. Such an investigation transcends the mere enterprise of creating
asthetically pleasing visual content, or mimicing the behaviors of "virtual
entities" thriving as digital representations of living organisms. This
type of development work may provide an insight into how, and perhaps why,
certain types of "perceptual media", such as visions of natural
settings and the lifeforms which occupy them, or even the sounds of nature in
its myriad forms, can have such a universal effect upon humans emanating from
virtually any cultural or societal orientation. It is in this context that I
have continued to examine the processes inherent with the simulation of natural
systems, as an expressive medium, to further examine and study the subtle
nuances of the "nature metaphor" replicated in a synthetic
environment. The threshold of asthetic engagement, established by interactive
contact with such expressive content, could be measured and codified as an "invocation
of rapture" quotient, driven be the asthetic potential of visual (and quite
possibly audio) content derived from computer generated simulations of living
entities, and the synthetic environments they thrive in.
Just as there is asthetic content to be discovered and
observed in the nature of the "real" world, there is also unlimited
potential asthetic content in the "alternative" nature of "virtual
worlds". The creation of virtual worlds, or for that matter, virtual
ecologies, can encompass any range of spatial or temporal domains, ranging from
the inifinitely immense, down to molecular scale of a theoretical "nanoworld".
By defining the dynamic rules and operational processes inherent in the
alternative nature of a virtual world, this allows access to realms,
environments, and experiential domains not possible via any other mechanism.
Virtually all forms, textures, and surfaces, such as
branching structures of trees, the construction of a leaf or flower,
distribution patterns of stars in the core of a galaxy, or pebbles on a beach,
even the wispy forms of a cloud, are forms which can be defined and replicated
with a series of formulae and procedures that represent the features of those
structures. There is a vast potential in creating synthetic environments, which
contain the dynamic elements of evolving organisms, procedurally defined
terraforms, and other processes which mimic the behaviors of events and
processes observed in the nature of the "real" world. In this way,
the computer can be utilized as form of "computational camera", to
discover the potentially infinte variety of asthetic content residing and
flourishing in the nature of the "virtual world". This mechanism
enables the exploration of "impossible" virtual worlds, ranging from
chaotic events that defy the "ordinary" rules of nature, to the "evolution"
of silicon based life forms as they exist in some alien terrain.
This is the real power of the computer as a tool for asthetic
discovery and exlporation, to be able to mimmic the forces of nature to create
structures, forms, and textures, as a process, as they occur (or don't occur) in
nature. Once defined, these processes can be utilized to create complete
synthetic environments within the virtual universe which resides in the
computer's memory. The structures, forms, and textures created in these
synthetic environments are the results of computations based on interactive
dynamic processes, which mimic those observed in the nature of the "real
world". These can include (but are not
necessarily limited to) symetrical and asymetrical growth patterns based on
va-rious forms of fractal geometries, gene-tically driven physiologies and
evolvable entities, and related biologically definable processes. In some
cases, algorithms that mimic the behavior of interactive life-forms are used to
evolve "unnatural" structural components. The colors and textures
applied to these structures can be evolved in much the same way.
When all of the elements of a given en-vironment are combined and
rendered, the result is an artform completely unique, and specific to the
computer as a spawning ground for visualization and asthetic exploration.
Presentation materials: Dynamic and passive volumetric renderings of various
virtual "biobot" component systems, self assembling and self
assembling psuedomorphs, quasi-viral components, "nano-swarm"
entities, xenomporphic organelle components and species subsytems,
organizational "containment" manifolds, and related synthetic
environments, as visual and behavioral metaphors of these environments, and
their related components.
copyright © 1997, 1998 - About Charles Ostman.
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