Re: [-empyre-] Defining metacreation...

Jose-Carlos said:

"Alife is usually considered as part of a hard
science (the people that work on that area are mainly computer scientists,
mathematicians or physicists interesting in synthetic forms of life)"


"I had seen little evidence that scientists even think that
artistic works on that area are relevant for the advance of such a
multidisciplinary practice."

Although I think I'm supposed to wait until I'm introduced to contribute to this dialogue (?) I can't resist the challenge of responding to Jose-Carlos post and in particular to the quotes I've clipped.

Basically I disagree.  The pre-Langton roots of Alife are very
much in the arts.  Many of the early pioneers were artists and
the new scientific community is now recognising and acknowledging
their contribution.  An example is Ihnatowicz -
though there are many more.  If we look at the broader field of
computation itself its major taproot is into the textile industry
and in particular Falcon's invention of the punch card to store
images and Jacquard's subsequent patent.

Many artists have discussed their work/process in anthropomorphic
metaphor.  The work "speaks for itself" or "tells the artist when it
is finished", etc...  Mitchell has described very eloquently how
the prehistory of alife is rooted in the arts.  For many of us
in the late 1960's and early 70's the computational process was
the "natural" tool of choice to progress our interest in process
and system.  And we couldn't understand why the rest of the art
world didn't agree!

The tool/concept set to which alife belongs is concerned with a
shift in the sciences from quantitative to qualitative investigation.
Some commentators have linked this to the shift, in science, from
modernism to postmodernism.

So alife is not about "synthetic forms of life" though this may be
part of its pursuit.  Experimental Biology (Langton's term) or
Machine Learning or Bottom-Up Artificial Intelligence are perhaps
more useful terms. Alife processes allow the investigation of
phenomena that can't be deconstructed using traditional quantitative
tools.  It enables the investigator to go beyond the limitations
of reductionism.  Many of the pioneers of computation (including
very early figures like Lovelace or more recent ones like Turing
or von Neumann) acknowledge and refer to this potential.

Many people working the the alife field are not "hard scientists" -
they include linguists, philosophers, psychologists, musicians
artists, aestheticians, etc...  As a number of people have commented
it's one of the new fields that effectively bridge Snow's two

And, speaking for myself, I have always found scientists to be
very interested in my work.  They often comprehend my intention and
have made significant comment and input.  I have had a number of
very rewarding relationships and residencies in scientific
organisations and was once recruited for a art professorship by
an engineering faculty!  By contrast the artworld has been
relatively unsympathetic and seem rarely to look or consider deeper
than the surface of the work.  This is misleading because the
artwork itself is often just an ephemeral outcome of a much more
important process (which the artwork is intended to document or
perhaps better "record").

An important aspect here is my belief that in art science
collaborations both the artist and the scientist should derive
value from the collaboration.  The contemporary model where the
artist merely appropriates a scientific idea and makes some
artwork from it (that only has value for the scientist as
publicity or at best public communication or popularisation) is
an anathema to me.

Paul Brown          PO Box 413, Cotton Tree QLD 4558, Australia  
mob 0419 72 74 85                           fax +1 309 216 9900
Visiting Fellow - Birkbeck

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