Inspirational Technological Art

One computational project I knew before entering EMS 2 is a Darwinian approach to fractal art called Electric Sheep. The project was founded by Scott Draves, and was originally released in 1999 as free screensaver software. Currently, there are approximately 500,000 monthly electric sheep users.

Each fractal is referred to as a “sheep”, and the group of these fractals stored on the server is called the “flock”. When an electric sheep user’s computer screensaver is activated, one of the sheep is selected out of the 100 or so in the flock. This sheep is displayed as the screensaver for a short amount of time, during which the user has the option to up-vote or down-vote the sheep, depending on whether they like or dislike the fractal. The voting process is used to create new sheep for the flock with characteristics of the most popular fractals.

I find this project incredibly inspiring, because of its interactive component, as well as the aesthetic preference of the community that’s reflected in the newly generated sheep. I think one of my favorite aspects of this project is that they’ve given the viewer an active role in generating new sheep. I think Electric sheep is a great example of how user data can be utilized in the creation of new media art and animation.

Electric Sheep

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