Codex Virtualis: Genesis

»Codex Virtualis: Genesis« by Interspecifics. You can see a darkened room with three large screens hanging on the wall. These depict different organisms.
Codex Virtualis: Genesis
Medium / Material / Technic
AI image synthesis and evolution of an open-ended taxonomic collection

»Codex Virtualis« is an artistic-scientific AI research project with the goal of developing a taxonomic collection of speculative life forms. The artists embark upon this aesthetic journey through an algorithmic ecosystem in order to gain an understanding of the genetic and metabolic behaviors and processes of microbial life.

Its reference points include historic precursors such as »Monstrorum historia« by Ulisse Aldrovandi (1642), Ernst Haeckel’s »Art Forms in Nature« (1899), and Luigi Serafini’s book »Codex Seraphinianus« (1981). All of these works resemble »Codex Virtualis« in their juxtapositions of reality and fantasy. Distributed across three projections, the installation shows a process that starts with the simplest organisms and applies virtual genesis to create the final rendering and an artificially generated taxonomic name.

Using an AI trained on a vast array of sources, the artists elaborate a vision about unconventional origins of life. The project follows the idea of a cooperation between human and non-human intelligences. Its goal is to formulate new ideas for the social imagination. The resulting narratives of artificial life share a certain extraterrestrial quality. However, the artists conclude: Only once we can imagine life beyond our planet, we become capable of appreciating life on Earth.

The work was created as part of the SETI x AI @ Ars Electronica Futurelab 2021 artist residency. SETI x AI residency is part of AI Lab (European ARTificial Intelligence Lab).