Codex Virtualis is an artistic research framework oriented towards the generation of an evolving taxonomic collection of hybrid bacterial-AI organisms. With a subtle echo to the endosymbiotic (a) theory, we propose a symbolic formulation of a style transfer machine learning environment as a host, in which to merge bacterial/archaea time-lapse microscopy footage along with multidimensional cellular automata computational models (b) as endosymbionts, all under the orchestration of an autonomous generative non-adversarial network architecture (c). We aim as a result, to encounter novel algorithmically-driven aesthetic representations, tagged with a unique morphotype and genotype like encoding, and articulated around a speculative narrative encompassing unconventional origins of life on earth and elsewhere.
The project stands on the idea of cooperation to expand on the concept of intelligence by including machine and non-human agents into its configuration. And intends to articulate new schemes for the social imaginary to picture life outside the planet, and to better appreciate life on earth.
How can complexity outburst from simple dynamical systems when represented using convolutional neural networks?
What forms can arise from training creative algorithms with pattern-forming bacteria in spatially explicit environments and extremophile morphology modeling?
Two possible outcomes for presenting this project, which will be determined by the Covid-19 situation are:
a. A site-specific immersive visual installation.
b. An interactive online web/mobile site/app.
In both cases displaying the complete organism collection, extensive process description, and DIY tutorials for people to replicate in a citizen science manner.
Our motivation when applying for this residency resides in the possibility to incorporate our in-progress art & science project Speculative Communications [a], with research on extremophiles and complexity modeling studied at Seti.
We are planning to create an image database by combining our collected visual data from bacterial colony growth with extremophile visual data and mathematical models of unicellular life forms collected at Seti, to pre-train a generative non-adversarial network, through style transfer interpolated from the biotic database and the self-organizing autonomous patterns into a continuous cellular automata. We are open for suggestions on other input sources to explore.
We seek to activate a self-generative system, Artificial Intelligence, and algorithmic approximation for generating virtual organism models based on morphology and rule modeling. The system includes a sensorial element, via Computer Vision, which increases its ability to influence the training results by extracting data (morphology, mobility, etc) from each emerging generation. A feedback loop that might add on or remove rules from the cellular automata depending on the behavior of the Generative non -adversarial network. Stacking parameters into a continuous flow of integrative rules to stimulate evolution into the organism models
Some of the essential research questions that we would like to tackle with this project are: how can we generate automated systems focused on the creation of new-to-nature organism models that inhabit the threshold between the biotic and the virtual domain?
The novelty of this development resides in the cross-pollination of algorithms to stimulate a self-generative process and the possibility of influencing a generative non-adversarial network through the interaction between our computer vision (sensorial system) and the behavior of the cellular automata.
We believe this system facilitates not only exploring emergencies between biotic and virtual but, over time, it can also be conditioned to create more specific experiments where we can address questions related to coevolutionary processes. As well as possible explorations on the environmental conditioning on the cellular automata to analyze interactions coming from extremophile emergencies.
The three primordial elements of the full system are described in the following flowchart.
The sources: from which we take characteristics biotic and virtual.
The feedback: to retro control the cellular automata by integration of new rules.
The virtual life generated: represented in a taxonomic way.
A machine that can observe and learn from a microorganism and uses the data arising from its behavioural patterns as a source of composition for an audiovisual score. This project is focused on the creation of an artificial intelligence that has the ability to identify repeated coordinated actions inside biological cultures. The AI stores and transforms these actions in to events to which it assigns different musical and visual gestures creating an auto-generative composition according to the decision making logic it produces through time. To accomplish this we will development an analog signal collector and transmission device able to perform its own biological maintenance and an audiovisual platform allowing the expression of these biological signals. The resulting composition will be transmitted live via a server channel where the coevolution process can be monitored in real time. Inspired by research centres such as SETI (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence), Speculative Communications is part a research space for non anthropocentric communication and part a non-human intelligence auto-generative system.
Project funded by: National Fund for Culture and the Arts Mexico, Laboratorio arte alameda, MEDIALAB-PRADO, DAAD ARTIST IN BERLIN RESIDENCY.
This innovative project aims to build functional biomorphic computing devices operated by the slime mould Physarum polycephalum. We envisage that research and development centred on novel computing substrates, as self-assembled and fault-tolerant networks will lead to a revolution in the bio-electronics and computer industry. Combined with conventional electronic components in a hybrid chip, Physarum networks will radically improve the performance of digital and analog circuits.
For the PHYCHIP project, Interspecifics was invited as an artistic researcher in the Media Enviroments department at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.Where we developed the Phytracker, a computer vision tool to generate compositions based on the behavior of physaurum.
Interspecifics collective live_ Non Human Rhythms featuring Physarum @ Inoculum, CLB Berlin, 2016.
Non-Human Rhythms 1
Non-Human Rhythms 1 is the first of a series of live recordings featuring different micro-organism and their bio-electrical activity translated in to sound, 30 minutes of signals originated in a DIY bacterial fuel cells containing different bacterial consortiums.
Microbial fuel cells harness the power of bacteria and convert energy released in metabolic reactions into electrical energy. The cell consists of two electrodes separated by a semi-permeable membrane submersed in an electrolyte solution. The bacteria break down food wastes and sewage to generate an electric current and continue to replicate producing power indefinitely as long as there is a food source from which get nourished.
The cell is divided into two halves: aerobic and anaerobic. The aerobic half has a positively charged electrode and is bubbled with oxygen, much like a fish tank. The anaerobic half does not have oxygen, allowing a negatively charged electrode to act as the electron receptor for the bacterial processes. In collaboration with Juan David López Hincapié and Adrián Rodriguez García Ph.D from the Technological Development in Electrochemistry Mexico (CIDETEQ).
Non-Human Rhythms 2
Non-Human Rhythms 2 is the second release of a series of live recordings featuring different micro-organism and their bio-electrical activity translated into sound, 4 tracks of a slime mould sonification developed at Bauhaus Uni- versity as part of the Phychip project
Physarum polycephalum is a unicellular organism, an amorphous yellowish mass when in the plasmodial phase of its life cycle that can propagate on a large range of surfaces such as plastics, metals, glass and agar. This multi-headed slime mould feeds on bacteria, spores and other microscopic particles. During its foraging state the plasmodium shift its shape sending out protoplasmic tubes with cytoplasm flowing inside rhythmically ex- panding and contracting in response to simple favorable conditions.
Two main approaches were developed for the sonifica- tion of Physarum. The first one is focused on the ana- log behavior of the organism – bioelectrical activity – and the second one in an optical based pattern recognition software both are Open source hardware and software available on virtual repositories. These two systems en- able the creation of a bio-controller for auditory display purposes where common musical structures like texture, rhythms and phrasing can be selected, using the feeding of bioelectrical activity as the system actuator.
In collaboration with Theresa Schubert from Bauhaus University Weimar and the Phychip project team.
Non-Human Rhythms 3
During the fifth edition of the festival Novas frequencies in Rio de Janeiro, we were invited to perform a laboratory focus on the sonification of the bacteria present on the beaches of Rio. In the laboratory 10 local artists were selected through an open call. For a week we work together enabling a compact version of Bending Energy Lab that allowed them to create an interface between bacteria and their instruments. Thus creating the first non-human rhythms orchestra.
Participants in the laboratory:
Biônicos, David Charles Cole, Felipe Ridolfi, Gama, Henry Schroy, Negalê Jones, peppe de souza e Re Sil, Leslie García, Paloma López.
Micro-rhythms is a bio-driven installation where small variations in voltage inside microbial cells generate combining arrays of light patterns. A pattern recognition algorithm detects matching sequences and turns them in to sound. The algorithm written in Python uses three Raspberry Pi cameras with Open Computer Vision to track light changes creating a real-time graphic score for an octophonic audio system to be played with SuperCollider. The cells are fuelled using soil samples from every place where the piece is presented, growing harmless bacteria that clean their environment and produce the micro signal that detonates all the processes in the piece. Understood as an interspecies system, the installation amplifies the microvoltage produced by these microscopic organisms and transduces their oscillations into pure electronic signals with which they create an audiovisual system that evokes the origins of coded languages.
Project commissioned by the Museum of Modern art in Medellin, curator Jorge Barco.
Geobacter Micropulse is part of a series of pieces inquiring into the possibility of interspecies communication. Bioelectric fluctuations from microbial fuel cells create light patterns that emulate the beginnings of encoded language. The cells use seawater and sediment samples from the NYC area, activating in consortium the ability of these Geobacters to produce energy when deprived from oxygen. The system creates a space where the micro-performativity of bacteria is expressed through light.
16-bit binary screen built with black light lamps where the fluorescence of bacteria E.coli is activated in response to its 440 nanometers light spectrum. Protein GFP is responsible for such fluorescence and this is the reason to be called GFP-Screen. The screen shows a piece of random poetry pretending to be written from a bacterial perspective using Google searches about the human subject. The main results shown are organized in sequence and presented in ASCII code two character every two millisecond. This project addresses the expression of the material agency of microorganisms through light and the capacity of light itself as a medium for information transmission.
The Energy Bending Lab is an instrument comprised of a set of custom-built modular synthesizers and transduction tools that creates a real-time sonification from the electric properties found in some bacteria. And through the use of cymatics—visible frequency vibrations—it is later converted into a visual pattern generator. Conceptualized as a DIY interspecies system, the interface amplifies the microvoltage produced by these microorganisms transducing their oscillatory features into raw electronic signals tuning the internal clock of the whole system and producing an unexpected array of sound patterns. The object explores the relationship between waveforms, matter, and the physical form of frequencies, seeking a pattern-based understanding of our context to illustrate the underlying order within the universe and human consciousness that appears to be intimately related to vibration.
The EBL was conceived during the course of a 2 month residency program granted by ECAS and hosted by festivals Cimatics in Brussells, Todays Art in The Hague and Insomnia in Tromsø; AND build at bauhaus university as part of a research residency.