CID centre d’innovation et de design au Grand-Hornu – Tim van de Velde

Can there be digital life?

Program and installation 2mx2mx1m Android phone application, PCB, microscopes, various mobile devices, screen

Produced as duo Arvid&Marie with Arvid Jense
Programing Vincent Van Dijk 
Intern Mathilde Le Maire

The emergence of more and more complex computer programs and the advent of near-sentient artificial intelligences raise the question of alternative living entities outside of the biological field. Can there be a digital life form?

In collaboration with Wageningen University of Research, this reasearch initiates debates and discussions with biologists to explore a possible translation of the principles for biological life set by scientist Tibor Gánti into a framework for digital life. Quantifying life is most likely a method bound to fail, but one might wonder how it will fail exactly.

The result of this research, Al¿ve is a practical attempt at this translation: a digital species living in a smartphone. While bearing reference to the early ‘00’s Tamagotchi fad, this creature does not exist to entertain it’s keeper, it exists to survive. When biological forms must feed on organic matter to grow, digital life calculates itself further with computing cycles. The lifeform physically grows on a phone memory to store itself until it occupies the entire spare storage. To avoid this phenomenon, the owner of the phone could choose to aid the creatures reproduction by splitting it up onto other phones, or to delete the app and be responsible for the creature’s death.

Selected exhibitions

Gogbot 2019, Enschede (NL)

“Nature Morte/Nature Vivante”, CID, Grand-Hornu (BE) 2019