The Art of Decoding: n-Folded, n-Visioned, n-Cultured


  • Mark Guglielmetti


Scientific modelling requires us to suspend disbelief, nowhere is this more palpable than in artificial life, an area of computational research investi - gating the principles that constitute a living system “without making refer - ence to the materials that constitute it. ” [1]

This paper investigates artificial life visualisation as both a scientific concern and in relation to media arts. Of interest in this examination is the normative protocol of looking at an artificial life simulation or ”˜world. ’ Analogous to looking through a telescope or microscope, the view into the artificial life world is monocular and often fixed; in this regime we look at ”˜organisms. ’ This strategy of looking through the scientific lens to observe a ”˜natural world’ enfolds other forms of cultural tactics that require decoding including but not exclusive to Bazin’s ontology of the photographic image, Disney nature films and other “apparatus-based universes which robotize the human being and society. ” [2]

Subsequent to identifying these protocols in artificial life visualisation I describe a number of works which exploit normative computational procedures to align artificial life image making into optical consistency with other forms of contemporary culture and to celebrate the ”˜ocular madness’ found in art forms such as neo-baroque image making and Islamic art.

[1] C. Adami, Introduction to Artificial Life (New York: Springer, 1998), 4.

[2] V. Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography (London: Reaktion, 2000), 70.