Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau/
In the interactive real-time environment “A-Volve” visitors interact with virtual creatures in the space of a water filled glass pool. These virtual creatures are products of evolutionary rules and influenced by human creation and decision.
Designing any kind of shape and profile with their finger on a touch screen, visitors will create virtual three dimensional creatures, that are automatically “alive” and swim in the real water of the pool. The movement and behavior of the virtual creature is decided by its form, how the viewer was designing it on the touch screen.
Behavior in space is, so to speak, an expression of form. Form is an expression of adaptation to the environment.
Form and movement are closely connected, the creatures capability to move will decide its fitness in the pool. The fittest creature will survive longest and will be able to mate and reproduce. The creatures will compete by trying to get as much energy as possible. Thus predator creatures will hunt for prey creatures, trying to kill them.
The creatures also interact with the visitors, by reacting to their hands movement in the water. If a visitor tries to catch a creature, it will try to flee or stays still, if it gets caught. Thus the visitor is able to influence the evolution by for example protection preys against predators. If two strong creatures meet, they can create an offspring and a new creature can be born. It carries the genetic code of its parents. Mutation and cross-over provides a nature-like reproduction mechanism, that follows the genetic rules of Mendel. This newly born offspring will now also react and live in the pool, interacting with visitors and other creatures.
Algorithms, developed by Mignonneau and Sommerer ensure smooth and natural movements and “animal – like” behavior of the creatures. None of the creatures is pre calculated, they are all born exclusively in real time through the interaction of the visitors and the interaction of the creatures . Thus a unlimited variety of forms will be possible, representing human and evolutionary rules. By closely connecting the real natural space of the water to the unreal virtual living space of the creatures, “A-Volve” minimizes the borders between “real” and “unreal”, creating a further step (after “Interactive Plant Growing”) in the search of “Natural Interfaces” and “Real-Time Interaction”
Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau are internationally renowned media artists working in the field of interactive computer installation. They are Professors at the University of Art and Design in Linz Austria where they head the Department for Interface Culture at the Institute for Media. Sommerer and Mignonneau previously held positions as Professors at the IAMAS International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences in Gifu, Japan and as Researchers and Artistic Directors at the ATR Media Integration and Communications Research Lab in Kyoto Japan. They also were Visiting Researchers at the MIT CAVS in Cambridge US, the Beckmann Institute in Champaign Urbana, IL, USA and the NTT-InterCommunication Center in Tokyo.