[ISEA98] Panel: Peter Beyls – Synthetic Creatures in Context

Panel Statement

Panel: Evolution 2.0

Computer programming cuts both ways: it utterly constitutes an indirect channel to specify intentions yet it provides a vehicle for conceptual navigation i.e. the pragmatic exploration of ideas and the interactive speculation on their generative potential. Both discrete models like cellular automata and continuous distributed agents-oriented systems provide a flexible computational environment to explore a wide range of interesting behaviours.
The CD ROM features two interactive applications accommodating emergent functionality; complex overall behaviour follows from the specification of local rules only. The ICA progam (Interactive Cellular Automata) maps patterns of cellular interaction to MIDI. Complex polyphonic musical structures emerge from only a few user controlled parameters. In addition, an auto-mutation function allows the system to wander through combinational space by itself.
The second program, called Actors, implements a self-regulating musical eco-system, it is a prime example of  artificial life oriented methods used in the context of real-time interactive music systems. Actors features a society of creatures moving in two dimensional space interacting according to the expression of social affinities. All actors are engaged in a variable network of mutual relationships which translates to a wealth of interacting musical behaviours. The application somehow blurs the distinction between algorithm and controller, it can be thought of as a living interface. Effective exploration of both programs is non-trivial and requires reading the accompanying texts.

  • Peter Beyls (Belgium), St. Lukas Hogeschool, Ghent