Humans love the idea of unique individuals, all of us snowflakes.
This sketch was spawned as a most innocent experiment in generating
organisms to inhabit a computational ecology. Generating critters
is a fun, harmless task to put your computer up to.
interactive illustration Click
the critter's facebody to randomize his appearance. This little
critter walks when you're not playing with him.
To generate a large population of diverse
individuals--with as little work as possible--we use a combinatorial
system. Combinatorial systems are simply discreet organizations
of parts. By combining sets of differing parts--attributes:
features, genetics--in unique ways, a multitude of combinations
Our combinatorial critter's appearance is determined randomly from
a set of pre-rendered graphic symbols representing various physical
The array of individual parts used in the permutation of the critters.
From top to bottom, faces, hair styles, some mouths, and a row of
eyes. The light grey circle indicates their relative placement and
does not show on the actual critter.
The organization of the parts within the
critter is important. In back, the object containing all other
objects is labeled as 'critter'. Nested within the 'critter'
Movieclip exists a 'mind', 'head', 'arms', and 'legs'. Further,
within the 'head' exists 'lips', both a 'lefteye' and a 'righteye',
'face', and 'hair' movie clips. Staging the critter in such
a fashion allows for direct, logical addressing of the critter's
figurethe Movieclip composition
of the critter
This version of a computational organism generator stops with the
inclusion of graphic features. With the introduction of attributes
instructing behaviors, we could generate hundreds of thousands of
critters set to accomplish any number of mindless tasks and activities.
One emergent behavior might be standing formation for a group photograph.
With a few simple perspective equations
and a camera slightly elevated, it is clear just how strange this
crowd of critters actually is.
The image above was created by manually rearranging each critter's
face until they were all smiling! Just as I had finished whipping
them into shape for the photograph, some critter in the second row
some critters in a shaded environment
Now out into the world, little guys!
Adding a few trees to the environment keeps our critters company and
gives them a better sense of scale.
little critter is having no luck finding shade
The trees that
grow up around the critters are simple recursive structures
grown with the instantiation of a single seed. Recursive growth
is a beautiful thing. These critters' environment is filled
varieties of trees with some adaptive properties required for
existence on a perspective plane.
Trees can also be modified
by clicking them. With each click, the tree chooses a new graphic
element for its branches and discards all previously rendered
View critter vegetation population only, a quick variation of this
project with no critters.