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June 07, 2006



Virtual Ecosystem

ambient_light--by Annie Spinster and Carl Collins--consists of a virtual ecosystem containing a number of classes of organism. The creatures form a complex food web with interactions between individuals leading to emergent properties such as flocking and population cycles. This environment is linked to that of the gallery via a system of pressure sensors which send information to the program through a microcontroller. The system is fed information about which of six chairs is occupied at any time, and certain patterns of chair occupation cause various species to be unleashed. The overall balance of chair occupation also leads to a reactive drift of organisms across the environment.

The installation will be on private view on 13 June 6-8pm at the Summer Show, Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design, Central House, 59 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7PF (nearest tube: Aldgate East). The exhibition continues 14-16 June 10am – 8pm, 17 June 10am – 5pm, 18 June 10am– 4pm.

At the heart of the project is a store of virtual energy points which flow through the food web, affecting many of the creatures' local variables, and so their appearance and behaviour. The energy points are eventually returned to the virtual environment through death and metabolism. The energy points behave as a catalyst to facilitate interactions and reactions between individuals.

The work is called ambient_light because of the way the light reacts to everything that happens within the environment. These reactions are not really emergent properties as such - they are more like visual clues to emergent properties within the system such as population cycles and the overall flow of energy.

The ambient_light installation consists of a laptop running the Processing software, connected to a large LCD display. Pressure sensors attached to six seating units collect data and send it to Processing via a Wiring microcontroller board.

ambient_light - web version

Posted by jo at June 7, 2006 11:39 AM