Taming nature: tapping the creative potential of ecosystem models in the arts

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Oliver Bown, Jon McCormack: Taming nature: tapping the creative potential of ecosystem models in the arts. Digital Creativity 21(4), 215–231 (2010)




This paper describes new research into the use of evolutionary ecosystem models as tools for creative artistic discovery. We give a brief history of the use of artificial evolution in the arts, and discuss difficulties with interactive and optimisation-based approaches to creativity. We present an approach based on evolutionary ecosystemic models. We propose that evolutionary ecosystemic models are capable of (i) driving the evolution of interesting novel interactive behaviour in a population of agents, (ii) exhibiting stimulating global dynamics which make them a suitable medium for artistic exploration and experience, and (iii) offering radically new ways to interact with complex dynamical software systems. We show three studies using evolutionary ecosystemic models in creative domains, demonstrating the potential for ecosystem dynamics to drive the emergence of novel behaviour. The benefits and challenges of these models are discussed, leading to a proposed framework for developing more sophisticated creative ecosystems.

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