Life Spacies

an evolutionary communication and interaction environment at

ICC- NTT Museum, Tokyo Japan, 1997

(c) 97, Christa SOMMERER & Laurent MIGNONNEAU (now offline)

supported by: ATR-Media Integration & Communications Research Lab, Kyoto


"Life Spacies" is an interaction and communication space, where remotely located visitors can interact with each other through evolutionary forms and images.

"Life Spacies" enables visitors to integrate themselves into a 3 dimensional complex virtual world of artificial life organisms that react to the visitors body movement, motion and gestures. The artificial life creatures also communicate with each other and so create an artificial universe, where real and artificial life are closely interrelated through interaction and exchange.

A "Life Spacies" web page allows people all over the world to interact with the system as well: by simply typing and sending an email message to the "Life Spacies" web site, one can create one's own artificial creature. The creature will then starts to live in the "Life Spacies" environment at the ICC's museum, where the on-site visitors directly will interact with it.

Artificial Life Species:

The artificial creatures are created in two different ways:

a) by the incoming international email messages, which are translated into the genetic code for the various creatures

- one message is one creature

- complex messages create complex creatures

- different levels of complexity represent different species

b) by the creatures themselves through reproduction and genetic exchange

- reproduction helps the creatures to propagate their genotype in the system and can help to form groups of different species

Evolutionary Design:

"Life Spacies" is based upon the idea of evolutionary design, which means that the artists did not pre-design creatures, but the design of the creature really depends on the interaction of the visitors and the evolutionary process itself: the messages sent from people all over the world and the reproduction and evolution of the creatures themselves will decide how the creatures will look.

Thus one can not really predict how the creatures will evolve and what kind of creatures will appear in "Life Spacies". It will all depend on how many people will send messages, how complex these messages will be and how the creatures will reproduce among themselves in the "Life Spacies" environment at the ICC Museum. As the exhibition will last one year, the commission of "Life Spacies for the ICC Museum is therefore a great chance to see how the piece and the species will evolve over time.

Non-Deterministic and Multi-Layered Interaction

"Life Spacies" is a system, where interaction, interrelation and exchange happens on a human-human, human-creature, creature-creature and human-environment, creature-environment and life-artificial life level.

There are two types of human interaction with "Life Spacies":

a) Creating creatures on-line:

users all over the world send email messages, which then build the genetic code for the creatures

b) Interacting with the creatures at the ICC Museum:

By touching the creatures with ones hands, one can interact with them.The creatures are basically shy and one needs to look for them carefully as they hide in the branches of the vegetation. Once the creatures are disturbed, they will come out of their nests and move around in space.

Cloning a creature:

When a person is alone in his/her interaction space, he/she can clone a creature by catching it with his/her hand. When the creature got caught, it will make a perfect copy of itself, a clone. After the cloning process the creatures try to escape again.

Mating two creatures:

If two remotely located people are in the same virtual space, they each can catch a creature with their hands at the same time and then watch these two creatures mating. If the creatures mate, they will produce an offspring which is the genetic mix of its parents.After the mating process the three creatures will try to escape again into the branches of the virtual plants.

the on-site visitors gestures and body movements will be tracked and will influence the creatures behavior: once

As the interaction rules are non-deterministic and multi-layered, an open system is created where each entity, whether real life or artificial life, whether real present (at the ICC Museum) or virtually present (the users on the net, or the creatures as code) is regarded as an equally important entity of a complex life-like system.

"Art as a Living System"

The universe according to Bohr is a indivisible dynamic whole who's parts are essentially interrelated on a subatomic level. Significant is the duality character of the subatomic particles; they are two complementary descriptions of reality, where both of them are partly true.

Based upon the insight that interaction per se and the interrelation between entities are the driving forces for the structures of life, Sommerer and Mignonneau as artists are investigating the interaction and the creative process as such. Creation is not any more understood as expression of the artists inner creativity or "ingenium"(according to Hegel), but becomes itself an intrinsically dynamic process, that is based upon the interaction between the human observer, his/her consciousness and the evolutionary dynamic and complex image processes of the work, which themselves are based upon principles of artificial life, evolution and dynamic non-local interrelations (= "Art as a Living System").