. Galapagos

The interactive installation “Galapagos” was commissioned by the ICC (In­terCommunication Center) in Tokyo, and exhibited there from 1997 to 2000. The visitor was positioned before 12 monitors arranged in a circular arc on pedestals showing amoebas or anemons, which reminded one of organic forms (Fig. 12.8). On the floor before each pedestal with a monitor, there was a touch- sensitive mat. If the visitor stepped onto one of the mats, all forms disappeared except the one selected by the visitor, and shortly thereafter forms appear that are similar to the selected one. The visitor thus selected the forms that were most interesting, and the associated genome was distributed to the 11 other computers and there it was mutated.

The structure and interaction resembled the installation “Genetic Images” that was shown in 1993 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. In this instal­lation, programs expressed in the “Lisp” programming language formed the genome. Through a combination of image processing and mathematical func­tions amazing image compositions evolved. Also in “Galapagos” several visi­tors could simultaneously select different forms, which then produced through merging, new genomes that consisted of the characteristics of all the selected

Chapter 12 forms. An additional mat on the floor served as a “reset”, with which com – Media Art pletely new random forms were generated.

. Galapagos

Figure 12 8 The title Galapagos refers to the island group visited by Charles Darwin in

Galapagos Karl Sims 1997 1835, whose unique flora and fauna inspired his evolution theory. In the isola­

tion of the Galapagos islands, unique species developed. The most well-known are probably 14 Darwin finch species that can be found only there.

The Galapagos islands is an isolated biotope, in which the evolution needed millions of years in order to bring about complex structures. For Sims the com­puter offers the possibility of a further isolated biotope, in which, depending upon the arithmetic performance and the selected simulation model, an evolu­tion can be assessed at an extraordinary speed. Later research work continued this in multiple forms, and although the results obtained with such systems are often not a sufficient explanation for natural processes, they have, how­ever, enriched biology with their understanding of the underlying processes of evolution.