[ISEA97] Paper: Carol Gigliotti – The Diverse Meanings of Artificial Life


A recurring image comes to mind when confronted with aspects of the future. It is the image of a single physical human pose. The figure faces forward, arms outstretched. The position of the arms varies considerably. In one version the arms are open and palms beckon inward while in the other, the arms are taut, pushing with palms braced against an inexorable movement forward.

This physical sensation of being dragged forward only coincides with the second pose, the one I interpret it as a fear of the future. Curiously enough, the welcoming variation of the same pose doesn’t include the dragging sensation, but instead finds the figure planted in the present. It welcomes the future to where it stands instead of being dragged unwillingly towards a future it does not understand and fears.

I’ve found envisioning as well as physically recreating this pose in its variations has helped me understand the complex meanings in our reactions to the future, specifically to concepts existing in the present in embryonic form, but indicating possibilities of fuller existences to come. One of the most interesting of these, and germane to much recent work by artists involved with interactive technologies, is the growing research program, artificial life.

  • Dr. Carol Gigliotti, USA. is presently Assistant Professor in the Department of Art Education and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at the Ohio State University, where she teaches courses on both the theory and practice of interactive technology. She has lectured, and published widely. She will be included in The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media from MIT Press due out next year.A recent essay entitled Bridge To, Bridge From: the Arts, Education, and Technology can be viewed at mit-press.mitedu/ejournals/Leonardo/isast/spec.projects/planetcollegium/gigliotti.html.  The paper version will appear in Leonardo in 1998. She was Co-Curator of SIGGRAPH96 Art Show The Bridge, for which she was the Critical Essays edi­tor. Most recent presentations include What is Consciousness For? at Consciousness Reframed: the First International CAiiA Research Conference at the University of Wales Newport:the Ethics and Virtual Reality Symposium at University of Michigan; The Total Museum at the Art Institute of Chicago;, Herbert Zipper Keynote Speaker for the 59th National Conference of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts; and Ethical Questions about Artificial Life at the 85th Conference of the College Art Association.

Full text p.19-21