Re: [-empyre-] making a meta-living / a-life & generative art
I'm enjoying the high enthusiasm shown for the field of a-life and its
philosophical implications, but have yet to see any real discussion
about the art produced by it.
Yes I'd welcome that too... more specific critiques please!
In particular, I wonder if the term "a-life art" really makes sense,
much as "generative art" doesn't make sense. Both terms describe means
of production but not the intention of the artist. Is "a-life art" art
that is about a-life? Or is it art produced through a-life methods,
much as paintings are produced (mostly) by use of a brush?
I use a-life art in a really generic way to refer to works that use
techniques derived from a-life science. This requires some boundaries
that are relatively arbitrary but necessary in terms of defining a
field in order to write about it! (for eg, some work using simulated
neural nets doesn't figure in my research... but some works in the book
do use simulated neural nets... the distinction is more to do with
their flavour, ie is it a more "AI" or cognitive usage, or a more
"a-life" or bottom-up, behavioural usage).
I am particularly interested in the fuzzy boundary between a-life and
generative processes you mention - the most striking development in the
field through my research has been the renaissance of generative
techniques in new media. When writing the book I added the "abstract
machines" section as a way to contain work that used a-life techniques
but was heading in this abstract generative direction (with less
concern for the metaphorics of a-life). A lot of the recent generative
stuff continues this trajectory (I'm just looking at Reas' "bugs" -
http://sketches.groupc.net/040208_220/applet/). In part what's
happening is that a-life structures and techniques (eg multi-agent
simulations) are just being assimilated into a broad repertoire of code
I also wonder if there's a new fetish emerging here, in the form of
"code"... the discourse around this work emphasises code as process /
tool etc... all fine I suppose... but it has a whiff of idealism (as in
Plato) which I'm not so sure about, and it can also act as a barrier to
critical engagement, by alienating those who aren't "code" inclined.
A-life techniques can do the same, but at least there is often a
metphorical level which does give some traction for critique. That said
I love a lot of the work...
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