A Survey of Virtual Ecosystems in Generative Electronic Art

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Dorin, Alan: A Survey of Virtual Ecosystems in Generative Electronic Art. In: Romero, Juan; Machado, Penousal: The Art of Artificial Evolution. Springer, Berlin, 2007, S. 289-309.




This paper explores the application of ecosystem simulation to the production of works of generative electronic art. The aim is to demonstrate that virtual ecosystems are capable of producing outcomes that are rich, complex and interesting aesthetically. A number of artworks that employ virtual ecosystems are surveyed. The author argues that the most interesting works of generative art exhibit four basic properties: coherence and unity; multi-scaled temporal complexity; autonomous production of novelty; responsiveness to perturbation. The virtual ecosystem is assessed for its suitability as a medium for constructing generative art in light of these desirable properties. It is concluded that the ecosystem’s strengths lie in its exhibition of multi-scaled complexity and its autonomous production of novelty. Whilst an artist may manipulate a simulation to retain visual and sonic coherence, the software also possesses an implicit coherence inherent in its ability to self-organize. Under some circumstances it appears that the weakness of the virtual ecosystem as an artistic medium lies in its unpredictable response to perturbation. Consequently, the paper also explores virtual ecosystems’ susceptibility to external control and describes methods that have been employed to adjust the responsiveness of art works that employ them.

Extended Abstract


booktitle={The Art of Artificial Evolution},
series={Natural Computing Series},
editor={Romero, Juan and Machado, Penousal},
title={A Survey of Virtual Ecosystems in Generative Electronic Art},
url={http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-72877-1_14 http://de.evo-art.org/index.php?title=A_Survey_of_Virtual_Ecosystems_in_Generative_Electronic_Art },
publisher={Springer Berlin Heidelberg},
author={Dorin, Alan},

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