In A-Volve, the viewer interacts with an unusual medium for technical instal­lations: water. The visitor looks at a 180x 135 cm-large water basin that is, however, only filled with about some centimeters of water, and in which vi­sual continuation is projected from the bottom. In the basin there are different organic creatures that move with pulsating movements, at times calmly, and at times more hectically. If one moves one’s hand through the water, one can influence the swimming movement of the virtual organisms, as well as their hunting behavior and their reproduction.

Beside the basin a touchscreen is located on which the viewer can with a finger describe two figures. From these two figures 400 points are extracted that form the outline and the profile of a polygonal model, which then appears in the projection. The speed of the hand movement determines the color and texture of the creature. For each described form a speed is determined at which the associated creature can move in the virtual medium. Different oscillations on the surfaces of the creatures make the movements look very organic.

A-VolveFigure 12.11

“A-Volve”, Sommerer and Mignonneau (1995)

Additionally, a virtual energy is assigned to the creature, which is used up in the course of its existence; however, superior creatures can build up their energies again. If the energy of a creature is used up, the creature dies. Faster creatures are defined as being superior and can hunt and eat the slower ones, whereby the virtual energy of the eaten creature is transferred to the successful hunter. The creatures possess the ability to perceive other creatures with an internal

Chapter 12 viewing system, and thus can recognize their booty or other hunters. Creatures Media Art of similar energy can pair and have children who represent mixtures of the

genetic codes of the parents. Viewers can induce mating or protect creatures using hand movements in the water.

A-Volve was started at NCSA in Illinois and continued in 1994 at the ATR Lab in Japan. There the two artists met Thomas Ray, who also focuses on evolutionary processes.