Artwork by Scott Draves and the Electric Sheep

Electric Sheep

Scott Draves
* 1968 in Washington D.C. (US), lives and works in New York City (US)

Electric Sheep
1999, Video

With the public availability of the internet and computers spreading, the field of crowd art reaches a new level. Artists can combine the computing powers of thousands of computers worldwide into on supercomputer that performs complex operations over night or while the individual computers are unused.

In 1992 Scott Draves developed the open source Fractal flame algorithm, an iterated function system that creates Fractal flames. The algorithm requires much more computing power than normal users could afford at time. In 1999, Scott Draves created a distributed computing project for the public that was as a screensaver showing floks while rendering new sheep in the background.

A server combines multiple animations (sheep) into a flock. Each sheep carries its parameters as a genetic code and the server may mate sheep or create mutations, resulting in new fractals. A user vote based ranking algorithm decide whether a sheep should live or die.

Electric Sheep creates an entire ecosystem of crowd-generated visuals resulting in a code-based distributed art system. It has no specific look and changes over time with the DNA, the fractal algorithm, as a base structure defining the project.