Metabiosis – pond

With pond we investigate 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 consists 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.

pond was developped during a two month residency at the Netherlands Media Art Institute in which we 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. 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.

pond was made possible with support from the Netherlands Media Art Institute, Kunsthochschule fur die Medien Koln and the Digital Research Unit