Life Spacies II

(c) 1999, Christa SOMMERER & Laurent MIGNONNEAU

supported by ATR Media Integration and Communications Research Lab. Kyoto


"Life SpaciesII" was originally developed for the ICC InterCommunication Museum in Tokyo as part of the museum's permanent collection. It is an artificial life environment where remotely located visitors on the Internet and the on-site visitors to the installation at the ICC Museum in Tokyo can interact with each other through evolutionary forms and images. Through the "Life SpaciesII" web page, people all over the world interact with the system; by simply typing and sending an email message to the "Life SpaciesII" web site (, one can create one's own artificial creature.

We developed a special text-to-form coding system that enables us to use written text as genetic code and translate it into visual creatures. In a way similar to the genetic code in nature, letters, syntax and sequencing of the text is used to code certain parameters in the creature's design functions. Form, shape, color, texture and the number of bodies and limbs are influenced by the text parameters. As there is a great variation in the texts sent by different people, the creatures themselves also vary greatly in their appearance.

As soon as a message is sent, the produced creature starts to live and move around in the "Life SpaciesII" environment. Depending on the complexity of the written text message the creatures body design and its ability to move is determined. Some creatures might move very fast whereas others might be slower. Creatures also look for food and aim to eat text characters that can be interactively released by the visitors: creatures always eat the same characters as contained in their genetic code. For example "John" creature will only eat "J", "o", "h" and "n". Since other creatures might want to eat the same characters as well, competition among creatures for certain types of food will occur. Creatures also might starve and die if they do not succeed to catch enough text characters. On the other hand if a creature has eaten enough food (=text characters) it will look for a mating partner and bear a child. Offspring creatures will then carry the genetic code of the parent creatures and live and interact with the other creatures in "Life SpaciesII."

"Art as a Living Process"

Based upon the insight that interaction per se and the interrelation between entities are the driving forces for the structures of life, we are investigating the interaction and creative process as such. Creation is not any more understood as expression of the artists inner creativity or "ingenium," but instead becomes itself an intrinsically dynamic process that is based upon the interaction parameters and the evolutionary image processes of the work.


C. Sommerer and L. Mignonneau, "VERBARIUM and LIFE SPACIES: Creating a Visual Language by Transcoding Text into Form on the Internet," in IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages (VL'99) Conference Proceedings, (Tokyo, 1999), pp. 90-95.