Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau

While for Karl Sims evolutionary techniques are a means for obtaining com­plex, nonplannable visual results, for Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignon­neau the algorithmic creativity of evolution stands in the foreground. The vari­ety of organisms, which nature brought about in the course of evolution, serves as an indication of the creative potential for technically realized evolutionary processes in the arts. If the principles that cause the wealth of organisms in nature are used as much as possible, then the machine turns into a work of art, which does not produce final results in interactions with the viewer, but, instead, during a continuous process again and again produces new interesting conditions, and therein first develops as art: “art as a living system” [205].

The artistic couple, who met at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt, has developed since 1992 an impressive number of interactive installations, such as “Trans Plant” (1995), “GENMA” (1996), “LifeSpacies” (1997) and “PICO_SCAN” (2000). Among the most well-known works rank the artworks “Interactive Plant Growing” of 1992/93 and “A-Volve” of 1994/95. Two themes dominate their work: evolutionary open systems through human interaction, and natu­ral interfaces. Thus they use multiple camera systems, speech recognition, and touchscreens. In their latest work “NanoScape” (2002) involves a magnetic force-feedback device. All these systems aim to detach the human interaction from the technical equipment.

Christa Sommerer studied biology, botany and art in Vienna. Laurent Mignon – neau studied fine art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Angouleme in France. Their work is supported by numerous institutions such as the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications), the ICC in Japan, where they are active as artistic director and researcher, respectively.

Figure 12.9

In “Interactive Plant Growing” the visitors let virtual plants grow by touching real plants (Image Courtesy: ZKM Karlsruhe, Franz Wamhof)


Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau