Artificial hybrids

“Run on specialised computers in the Cloud, the digital evolutionary process is a million times faster than biological life’s typical one generation per year. At this breakneck speed, the evolution of life on Earth could be compressed into 4,000 years, about the same length of time as recorded human cultural evolution. The digital end products, after several weeks of evolution with a generation every 30 seconds, are precious blocks of computer code, the trained Neural Networks, each containing about a Gigabyte of information. For the Rickshaw, the important Network is the Actor. It can produce its own versions of Jane’s paintings, each one derived from a unique encoding in the internal 512-dimensional latent space of the model. It is trained, evolved, to produce an image every time it is supplied with a new 512-digit number. This encoding is like a unique DNA code, a coordinate in the space of possible digital Sempervivum, much as the DNA of a real Sempervivum plant is a coordinate in the much larger space of all possible Sempervivum species, a subset of the space of all possible organisms, past, present and future.”

Physicist at CERN, Brennan’s contribution to Sempervivum Rickshaw is the exploration of Jane’s art with the computational methods of Artificial Intelligence, using generative techniques to search for meaning and extend insight in other dimensions. “Science and Art are intertwined in humanity’s need to understand and interpret the universe – they both connect and express experiences and allow us to describe them for others and for ourselves. The extension of our senses is brought about by painters like Jane, by musicians, and poets, as well as through the technology of scientific instruments. In using creative technology, I face the question of whether computer software can ever truly create art ab nihilo. Faced with selection choices, I confront the need for the awareness of internal biases which condition these choices. Viscerally, artificial evolution forces me to appreciate the continuous chain of ancestors linking every living organism today with the first replicators, each one successful in its quest to reproduce. The changing scales of complexity drive wonderment at the process by which my own conscious self has come to be in this place, right here, in this moment, right now. Above all, I feel the fragility of life, its continual struggle to best fit the environment, its transience. And I feel the tragedy of every extinction”.


Brennan Goddard | Ad Hoc Orquestra | Jimmy Herdberg (Jane Le Besque 2020)
Installation of Video screens depicting musical compositions and Sempervivum hybrids created by Artificial Intelligence
Exhibition at Munich-Nymphenburg Botanical Garden, 2022