As Art Is Lifelike: Evolution, Art, and the Readymade*

The early development and current concerns of artificial life practices are outlined in relation to both biology and art. The pragmatic side of a-life is presented, together with a consideration of how it compares with the biological sciences and a description of its methodologies for studying nature through computer simulation. A-life is proposed here as a place to locate art practice for artists who are interested in technoscience, and who are concerned with the “two cultures” gap between the humanities and the sciences. Mythical narratives that underpin new computational techniques, such as the dream of transformation or even generation of life, are not dismissed but become the impetus for resituating a-life as a set of representational strategies with great creative potential. A-life is linked to a particular aspect of 20th century art : how artists have developed and expressed the conviction that art and everyday life are inextricably enmeshed.

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