Re: [-empyre-] a few questions

On 08/11/2004, at 12:20 AM, Jim Andrews wrote:

Is 'artificial life' primarily in
reference to the algorithmic or is the life of art essential to interesting
'artificial life'?

My research used 'artificial life' in a quite strict, disciplinary sense, to refer to the line of work started by Christopher Langton and documented in (for eg) the journal Artificial Life. So according to that definition a-life refers to synthetic or simulated living systems in artificial media, and most often computation. (so BTW, Casey Reas' LeWitt stuff, isn't a-life art - though it is generative. It's an example I would say of a kind of permutational generative approach (outcomes of a relatively static and closed system)...)

But... there is a very clear link between "the life of art" and artists' use of artificial life. Organicism is an ancient artistic lineage which holds that the ideal structure for a work of art, is a "natural" or "living" structure. In the book I use Klee and Malevich as examples of a kind of formal organicism - one that proceeds by trying to make rational or formal abstractions of nature, and then attempts to set those abstracted elements loose with "a life of their own." There's more of all this in my "Abstract Organism" paper, here...

The techno-organicist impulse is alive and well (ha ha) in contemporary a-life art but also elsewhere... even where a-life techniques aren't used, plenty of works play with (or play at) living autonomy...

Mitchell Whitelaw
Program Director, Media / Multimedia Production
School of Creative Communication
University of Canberra

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