Life Spacies II

an interactive installation

© 1999, Christa SOMMERER & Laurent MIGNONNEAU

supported by ATR Media Integration and Communications Research Lab. Kyoto

Life Spacies II Concept

"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. Publication: 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.

my images

Life Spacies II Exhibitions


2022 OK Zentrum Linz "The Artwork as a Living System" (2nd Sept 2022 - 26th Feb 2023)
Retrospective exhibition
Curators: Alfred Weidinger and Genoveva Rückert-Sommerauer
Featuring "Interactive Plant Growing", "A-Volve", "Phototropy", "Life Writer", "Life Spacies II", "Mobile Feelings II", "Portrait on the Fly", "Haze Express", "Eau de Jardin", "People on the Fly", "Fly Plotter Portraits", "Digital Fly Portraits", "Scavengers", "The Value of Art", "Fly Objects", "Anthroposcope", "Antopolis", "Ar(t)chive", and "ToBee".
- Linz, Austria

2022 ZKM Retrospective "The Artwork as a Living System" (07.May.2022 – 31.July.2022)
(video trailer) (STIR World article)
Retrospective exhibition
Curated by Peter Weibel (Cuator), Jessica Menger (Co-Curator), Philipp Ziegler (Co-Curator). Nina Liechti (Curatorial Assistance)
The interactive installations in the exhibition tell the story of almost 30 years of artistic work by the Austrian-French artist duo Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau.
Based on an idea of Karin Ohlenschläger.
The exhibition is a co-production of ZKM | Karlsruhe, OÖ Landes-Kultur GmbH, Linz and iMal, Brussels. The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly publication in English edited by Karin Ohlenschläger, Peter Weibel and Alfred Weidinger in the Leonardo Book Series in collaboration with MIT Press.
Featuring "Interactive Plant Growing", "A-Volve", "Phototropy", "Life Writer", "Life Spacies II", "Mobile Feelings II", "Portrait on the Fly", "Haze Express", "Eau de Jardin", "People on the Fly", "Fly Plotter Portraits", "Digital Fly Portraits", "Scavengers", "The Value of Art", "Fly Objects", "Ar(t)chive", and "ToBee".
- Karlsruhe, Germany


2012 "Art and Artificial Life - VIDA 1999-2012 ", (from 8. Mai 2012- 6. January 2013)
curator: Karin Ohlenschläger
Espacio Fundación Telefónica. Gran Vía, 28.
- Madrid Spain

2011 Arts Santa Monica Barcelona (1st June 2011- 30th September 2011)
Curator: Josep Perello & irma vilà òdena
Solo exhibition: "A-Volve, Eau de Jardin, Phototropy, Life Spacies II, Mobile Feelings
- Barcelona, Spain

2008 "Digital senses - when digital data turns into art” (April 18th – May 11th 2008)
at the Center for Contemporary Art Kiev
Curators: Manuela Pfaffenberger and Gerfried Stocker, Ars Electronica
Artists: Christa Sommerer (AT) and Laurent Mignonneau (FR),
The Sancho Plan (UK)- Nataša Teofilovi? (RS), Takahiro Matsuo (JP), Catherine Nyeki (FR), Casey Reas (US), Aaron Koblin (US), Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman (US)
- Kiev, Ukraine

2007 Exploratorium, San Francisco, USA, (14th Sept 2007 – 6th January 2008)
Virtual Unreality - Interactive Artworks on the Virtual Frontier,
exhibiting artists: Sheldon Brown, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Dan Torop,
Curator: Pamela Winfrey
- San Francisco, USA

2006 "Natural Habitat" (Nov 4th - Dec 12)
at the Montevideo
- Amsterdam, Netherland

2006 Kunstraum Dornbirn
"zerstörte welten" (20th April)
at the Kunstraum im Stadtgarten
- Dornbirn, Austria

2006 "Digital Transit"
Coproduced by Futurelab (Ars Electronica Center)
and MediaLabMadrid (Conde Duque Cultural Centre).
- Madrid, Spain

2005 Galeria Antonio Prates “Bioarte”
Lissabon, Portugal

2005 STUK Festival,
Leuven, Belgium

2004 "WissensKuenste −
Bilder jenseits des Bildes − Das lebende Bild” (curated by   Hamburger Bahnhof )
-  Berlin, Germany

2003 "RESPOND - Body/Data/Space"
Cambridge University, Life Spacies II at Sedwick Museum
- Cambridge, UK

2003 "Technogeist Festival 2003"
- Mexico City, Mexico

2002 @rt Outsiders
Maison Europeenne de la Photographie
- Paris, France

2002 II Bienal de Buenos Aires , Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
- Buenos Aires, Argentina

2002 LavalVirtual 2002
- Laval, France

2001 Microwave Media Art Festival 2001
Hong Kong City Hall Exhibition Hall - Hong Kong, China

2000 Kunsthalle Wien
"Living and Working in Vienna: 26 Positions of Contemporary Art"
Curator: Paulo Herkenhoff, Maaretta Jaukkuri, Rosa Martez
- Vienna, Austria

2000 Media City Seoul - Media Art 2000
Curator: Barbara London
Seoul Metropolitan Museum
- Seoul, South Korea

2000 Museum of Modern Art Webpage
(Kyoto link 2 image 6-11)- New York, USA

2000 Ars Electronica Center
"print on screen", collection: "Life Spacies II" - Linz, Austria

2000 Museum of Kommunication
- Bern, Switzerland

2000 IMAGINA 2000 Innovation Village
- Monte Carlo, Monaco

2000 Medi@Terra
- Athens, Greece

2000 Taipei Art and Technology Exhibition DEOA
- Taipei, Taiwan

2000 Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciencies - City of Arts and Sciences
Palacio de las Artes, collection "Life Spacies II" - Valencia, Spain

1999 Cibervision'99
- Madrid, Spain

1999 ATR Open House'99
- Kyoto, Japan

1999 SMAU'99
- Milano, Italy

1999 Siggraph'99 - Emerging Technologies
- Los Angeles, USA