The Emergence Project: Imaging the Future, 2010
Gallery Project, Ann Arbor, MI
A collaboration with Daniel Sauter

Now AvailableHigh resolution archival inkjet prints of this evolving piece.

This site-specific installation of The Emergence Project was created in response to the thematic call Imaging the Future posed by the exhibition curators at Gallery Project in Ann Arbor, MI. The piece imagines the future through the evolution of ideas seeded by currently issued patents mined over the course of the exhibition.  Contemporary notions are captured and introduced into the piece as new patents are added to the corpus of intellectual property that will shape technologies to come, and through them the society that will emerge from our present.

We investigate how complex patterns arise out of a series of simple interactions without apparent direction or plan. Patents injected daily into this living ecology of ideas are represented by the language that encodes them. They are analyzed continually and processed into visualizations that dynamically evolve from minute to minute. The generative artwork uses simple morphological rules to animate word clusters based on linguistic proximity, similarity, and difference.

In the work, hundreds of organic digital creatures embody the patents and their derived offspring. The digital creatures, or idea clusters, continuously interact with each other, evaluating qualitative proximity in regards to their meaning and frequency. Thousands of local interactions between the creatures, as well as autonomous creation of new creatures, generate patterns that represent the evolution of current ideas into future actualizations. As the piece continues to evolve over time it reflects the evolution process in form of graphical patterns, statistics and maps. At intervals the lens applied to the representation of the ecology of ideas is suddenly switched to reveal a different aspect of this evolving future.  At one time the visualization highlights the weighted linguistic components of the ideas.  At another the interconnected relationships between the ideas becomes the focus. And later, the sweep of ideas through time as they comingle and breed dominates.

The Emergence Project builds on one of the liveliest areas of research in philosophy and science. Examples of apparent emergent phenomena range from colonies of ants to the popularity of a particular hairstyle, and life itself. The Emergence Project: Imaging the Future extrapolates our present to our future by adapting emergent behavior simulations to the evolution of ideas.

Imaging the Future | 2010 | Exhibitions