artist in residence april - july 2007

Part of the 'Metabiosis' project, Marloes De Valk (NL) and Aymeric Mansoux (FR) investigated to what extent information can develop in a network of computers linked with each other and how it is possible for an audience to interact with it.

The 'pond' installation consisted of three interconnected machines. Each machine runs a simple ecosystem model in which small strings of data are produced, processed and sent back and forth from computer to computer.

In reality the string contains a set of items that only make sense in the virtual machine/pond that interprets all this information. Because the model includes a two dimensional environment, visualized on screens, it is possible to follow the whole process as it is being computed on each machine.

Even though the number crunching methods are abstract, with the aid of the visual output, one string of information can be tracked and referred to as a visible and animated 'creature'.

When the machines are turned on, these 'creatures' remain in the computer memory and can jump to other computers/ecosystems.

They can reproduce (copy of information), evolve (update of information), and they can die (non recoverable loss of information). These self organized ecosystems produce patterns emerging from the initial rules set in the ecosystem model. At the same time, on a projection, the whole process and data exchange is visualised, bringing an even higher level metaphor and different point of view on how the information is flowing through the three machines.

It is possible for the audience to interact with each pond via a touchscreen, directly influencing and breaking the self organizing process. The input has immediate effect on the overall system and provides a way to bend or control the information flow.

'pond' is an experiment and a game for people who are curious about the possibilities of standalone processes, generative systems and artificial life.

During the residency, Mansoux and de Valk will investigated how the fragile transition regime between periodic and chaotic phases of a self organizing system can lead to complex behaviours with which an audience can interact with. The two visualisation models of the processed information raise the issue of the matryoshka effect through the relationship between interpretation and processed data.

'pond' is an artistic metaphor for computer metaphors.

Aymeric Mansoux is an artist and co-founder of GOTO10, an organization dedicated to create, produce, and support FLOSS Art. He has taken part in many artistic experiments based on the internet and the emergence of networks, and considers any form of data to be a new clay that can be used to develop autonomous artistic processes. Currently part of the Digital Research Unit of the University of Huddersfield, his recent projects include the mysterious packets toolkit (with Tom Schouten and Marloes de Valk), the 0xA band (with Chun Lee), the digital artlife Metabiosis project (with Marloes de Valk), the pure:dyne GNU/Linux live distribution for media artists (with Chun Lee and Antonios Galanopoulos) and ongoing theoretical research into tools and digital autonomous processes. He is also part of the production and curatorial team of make art, an international FLOSS Art festival in France.

Marloes de Valk is an audiovisual artist, part of digital art collective GOTO10. She was born in Holland, 1976, and is currently based in the UK. She studied Sound and Image at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague, specializing in abstract compositional computer games, HCI and crashing computers. Her work consists of audiovisual performances and installations, investigating machine theater and narratives of digital processes. She is part of the packets project, developing and documenting new tools for artistic creation, and is currently collaborating with French artist Aymeric Mansoux on Metabiosis, a project investigating the ups and downs of data packets living in a world of connected ecosystems. Marloes is part of the Digital Research Unit at the University of Huddersfield.

'pond' is developed using Packet Forth, a language created by Tom Schouten

Packet Forth is an open source scripting language for artists and programmers interested in generative art, animation, audiovisual performances, installations, visualisation systems... Packet Forth is used for rapid prototyping, research and professional production. It's a 'high level' Forth dialect: it uses data types (floats, ints, symbols, strings, lists and trees) and packets. It is easy to learn, even if you have no prior experience with programming. It runs on GNU/Linux and OSX. For more information, please visit

Packet Forth is licensed under GPL as well as the software 'pond', of which the source code will be regularly published and made available via the metabiosis file repository.
For more information, please visit