Open Source Life

March 27th, 2003 - August 31st, 2003

Categories: Multimedia, Web Art


The student-based experimental media arts group-Nomads & Homesteaders explore bio-technology, emergent behavior, artificial life systems and simulation through, the Open Source Life project. EVLer Beth Cerny joins the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Film Video New Media and Art & Technology students in the design and development of this on-line installation.

Conceived and designed in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Version>03 event, Open Source Life “grows” inside a sculptural kiosk. The kiosk is a physical manifestation of the project; like a giant animated pod creature of science fiction, the inflatable kiosk reflects Nomads’ & Homesteaders& interests and concerns with biotechnology, genetically modified organisms and artificial intelligence. Three conjoined pods stand eight feet in height and diameter. Wild tentacles grow out of the pods, sprawled along the gallery floor and walls. A webcam set inside the kiosk projects through the structure of lime green fabric, creating a fascinating glow within a dark gallery space.

Open Source Life participants create virtual artificially intelligent plants, designed to adapt to life in a range of virtually created environments. Once created, the virtual plant’s survival is the responsibility of its “guardian” (or the creator). Plant-like avatars represent participants, who are also provided interactive controls to promote a sense of community, resource sharing and collaboration. Outside the context of the physical installation, plants and the environment are tended to by virtual visits via the World Wide Web.