[ISEA98] Panel: Birgit Richard – Modelling Death to Get Real Death: The Re-construction and Repetition of the Live/Death Ambivalence in Artificial Life.

Panel Statement

Panel: Work

In light of the possibility of creating artificial life, in a computer processor, the question arises as to whether a phenomenon like death is even a matter of significance in a binary world that appears to be infinite and eternal, and what relationship exists between these death phenomena and the real thing. We can differentiate between two forms of immaterial death: artificial death as a programmed parameter, and self-emergent death in accordance with the biological model. At first sight the new arising virtual worlds appear like paradise before the original sïn, places without the determination of existence. From the point of their basic technological characteristics virtual worlds seem to be built for eternity. So aging and death have to be implemented artificially. A phenomenon like death has to be existant in cyberspace because digital and biological worlds are built up analogically as parallel, not as opposite worlds. The leading principle for all artificial worlds and creatures is the paradigm of a double death by Jacques Lacan symbolic/absolute-natural death) and an undefined twilight zone between the two deaths. The presence of a virtual death in the artificial world is for sure, but how can it be defined? ls virtual death a mutation or a transformation into other living forms avoiding bringing things to an actual end or are the artificial reconstructing and reanimating something that is already lost in reality like forms and rituals of coping with death? By looking at examples like computer-gaming (Doom, Creatures) and electronic gadgets like the Lovegety and the Tamagotchi this paper tries to find out about the symbolic forms of death in artificial worlds.

  • Birgit Richard (Germany), Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt.