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Computational Ecosystems in Evolutionary Art, and Their Potential for the Future of Virtual Worlds

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Part of the Progress in IS book series (PROIS)

Abstract

In this chapter we look in detail at digital artworks which employ a technique from Artificial Life (ALife) called Computational Ecosystems (CEs). These are systems where digital agents are organized in a hierarchical structure (of a food chain) and trade symbolic units (energy and biomass) as a way of promoting community dynamics. We analyze a set of forty (40) CEs communicating works created in the past two decades. We classify these according to an adapted taxonomy. Then, we proceed to a study of cumulative analysis to delineate common patterns and characteristics that can help analyse this area of creativity and knowledge. We conclude discussing the diversity and heterogeneity of the practice and then suggest how CEs, in the context of virtual worlds, could be used as powerful generative multimedia tools, helpful in building bio-mimicking ecosystems as well as in the animation of non-player characters (NPCs) with human-like behaviors.

Keywords

  • Virtual World
  • Virtual Water
  • Artificial Life
  • Artificial Evolution
  • Exterior Space

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note that most works (93 %) are not controlled; the only exceptions being works presented to the public as static pictures.

  2. 2.

    We have to keep in mind that the sample scrutinized here illustrates about two decades of practice where we have witnessed an immense technological evolution. As a consequence, works from the first decade might exhibit features that are systematically distinct from those of the second. The ability to create (or make use of) certain formal properties or interactive features might not have existed earlier and we should keep this in mind. A more in-depth analysis would be needed to clarify this point.

  3. 3.

    The purist modernist tradition dwells much around the medium, of playing with the properties of the medium. Consider painting: a modernist will ask what can be done with painting, how far can we take it, use its material constraints; and then follows the questioning of what are the “materials of painting”. Krauss contests that idea and argues that it is the “technical support” one should consider, which is not strictly rooted in the properties of the medium, but rather on the set of ideas that inform the practice. For example, the painter might still be working with canvas and ink, but the work is subordinated to an idea, a subject and this is what becomes central. So for instance Ed Rusha is working with the subculture of Los Angeles, the automobile, its slang, the movie-stars (Krauss, 2011).

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Correspondence to Rui Filipe Antunes .

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Antunes, R.F., Leymarie, F.F., Latham, W. (2016). Computational Ecosystems in Evolutionary Art, and Their Potential for the Future of Virtual Worlds. In: Sivan, Y. (eds) Handbook on 3D3C Platforms. Progress in IS. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-22041-3_16

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