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.


Daniel Heiss
* 1978 in Munich (DE), lives and works in Karlsruhe (DE)

2017, computer, monitor, microphone 

For decades, the interface between people and computers was limited to the input of text via a keyboard. The wish for a more intuitive and natural way to communicate with computers, however, goes back at least as many decades.

Only in recent years has direct interaction with computers through spoken language become possible due to tremendous progress in the areas of language recognition and processing (»Natural Language Processing«, NLP). Neural networks make it possible to transcribe the acoustic signal of human language word-for-word into text form. With the help of linguistic models (e.g. word embeddings), the recognized word groups can then be analyzed semantically in order to put the individual fragments in context. Modern algorithms make it possible to use this context to translate text into almost every language in the world in a fully automated way, effectively in real time.

The fictional Babel fish from Douglas Adams’ »The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy« is now within reach in real life.

Speak into the microphone and name the language into which your statement is to be translated. Along with the translation, every spoken word will be reproduced in a linear (one-dimensional) pixel display in the form of optical Morse code.


Bernd Lintermann
*1967 in Düsseldorf (DE), lives and works in Karlsruhe (DE)

2018, Interactive installation with multi-channel projection

YOU:R:CODE opens the exhibition Open Codes. The title can be read in two different ways: the interpretation “your code” indicates that in the installation visitors experience different kinds of digital transformations of themselves. Whereas on entering, a visitor still sees their familiar reflection in a mirror – the most real virtual depiction that we can imagine – the mirror image gradually transforms into a digital data-body until finally, the visitor is reduced to an industrially readable code. In the end he/she breaks free from the virtual depiction, and is materialized in a flip-dot display. The second way of reading the piece’s title, “you are code,” emphasises that we ourselves consist of code, which amongst other things is manifested in the genetic code. The genetic code constitutes the algorithm of life and from birth it determines what we do. In current research projects synthetic DNA strands even serve as long-term storage for digital data. And for the data analysts and artificial intelligences operating in cloud computing, too, which via smartphones give us our daily instructions for acting, we are only perceived in a mediated way in the form of sensor data and via our electronic traces and expressions – to them we are codes.

Concept, realization: Bernd Lintermann
Audiodesign: Ludger Brümmer, Yannick Hofmann
Technological support: Manfred Hauffen, Jan Gerigk
Setup, planning: Martin Häberle, Nikolaus Völzow
Production: ZKM_Hertz-Lab
Inspired by: Peter Weibel

Visitors in front of rain from CAMP rain
*2007-present, open-source media art platform, housed at CAMP in Mumbai (IN) and 0x2620 in Berlin (DE) rain
2018, Automated Scroll of Thumbnail view of ID’s in, sorted by date created is an online archive of text-annotated video material, primarily footage and not finished films contributed by filmmakers, artists, cultural organisations, predominantly from, but not limited to India. went online on 29th February 2008 from Bombay; a collaboration between a group of friends; artists, filmmakers, lawyers, coders, cinephiles and free software enthusiasts living between Bangalore, Bombay and Berlin. The entire collection is searchable and viewable online, and is free to download for non-commercial use.

We saw not only as an open-source, collective, non-state video repository of a recent pasts and continuing presents, but importantly as a way of opening up a set of images, intentions and effects present in video footage; resources that conventions of video-making, editing, political exigencies and spectatorship have tended to suppress, or leave behind. This expanded treatment leads us into lesser-known territory for video itself, a slower reading of reserve material, beyond the finite documentary film or the online video clip.

The design of the archive makes possible various types of “viewing” and contextualisation: from an overview of themes and timelines to much closer readings of transcribed dialogue and geographical locations, to layers of “writing” on top of the image material. Views for each ID include an info page, map view, documents view, edit and player view. Timeline options include waveform, keyframe and slit-scan. Descriptions, keywords and other interpretative annotations have been placed on timelines by both archive contributors and users. allows for publishable video essays and online edits traversing through material in the archive.

Daniel Temkin
*1973 in Boston (US), lives and works in New York City (US)
2018, Video with two interactive touchpads

Conventionally codes, programming languages and software are seen as language dictionaries helping humans to encode processes and logic into sequences of operations to be executed by machines. Depending on what we would like to achieve, we chose a set of tools.

Yet code can be more than a fixed tool whereby creativity does not only reside in its output but also in its handling. Each language has different approaches that lead to the same result: this variety allows for artistic creation by disrupting common workflows through different visual coding styles to abstract constructs of logic.

The next steps consist of the creation of new languages where the process and uses are not the main motivation any more.  It is about the breaking boundaries of existing languages, creating a frame set by the code or the input, and output method, and less by the information processed.

The installation invites visitors to explore the world of codes in all its creativity and whimsy, its playfulness, and potential for disruption. The video gives an insight into this collection of codes, while visitors can explore the many facets of the archive on the tablets.

Installation view »Open Codes«

Symbolism in Circuit Diagrams

Where Dogs Run
Founded in 2000 in Yekaterinburg (RU)

Alexey Korzukhin
*1973 in Sverdlovsk (RU)
Olga Inozemtseva
*1977 in Jalutorovsk (RU)
Natalia Grekhova
*1976 in Kamensk-Uralsky (RU)
Vladislav Bulatov
*1974 in Sverdlovsk (RU)
All live and work in Yekaterinburg (RU)

»Symbolism in Circuit Diagrams«
Since 2006 ongoing, mixed-media installation

The installation consists of six electrical circuits, which depict the encoding of six classical poems into electrical circuitry symbols. Behind the podiums are six films animating this process of transforming the poems into electrical diagrams.

In electronics, a diagram contains standardized symbols to schematize the work of an electrical network. These symbols are succinct metaphors, which transmit a vast amount of technical information. The artist collective investigates the »linguistics« of these pictograms, and interprets their possible translation into a poetic language. After converting the six poems into the »vocabulary« of electrical circuits, the artists create DIY assemblages based on the developed diagrams. The resulting circuits have a metaphorical connection to the content of the poems. For instance, Pushkin’s »Prophet« took the form of a radio set.

Following the linguistic experiments in sound symbolism and language creation of the Russian Futurists known as zaum, »Symbolism in Circuit Diagrams« can be seen as an attempt to create the foundations for a universal language, for the laws of physics and electricity, in particular, are universal for all living beings and machines.

Installation view »Open Codes«

Genealogy of the Digital Code

ZKM Karlsruhe

»Genealogy of the Digital Code«
2018, Augmented reality and wall print

The »Genealogy of the Digital Code« displays the history of digital codes in the form of an interactive wall chart. Monitors move across a virtual panorama, which stretches along the wall space. With the »Linear Navigator«, visitors can move along a high-resolution timeline and watch short videos embedded in it that visualize the history of the digital code. In this way information can be called up on milestones in the development of computer technology from 1800 to the present-day: development of the binary code, early computers, the first neural network, modern computers, and the development of artificial intelligence. Linear navigation renders the chronology of development easy to grasp.
This virtual timeline is embedded in real infographics, which stretch along the entire wall and further contextualize the virtual chronology.

Idea: Peter Weibel
Conception, realization: ZKM_Institute for Visual Media
Project management: Bernd Lintermann
Editors: Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás, Magdalena Stöger, Olga Timurgalieva
Software: Bernd Lintermann, Nikolaus Völzow
Video post-production and graphics: Moritz Büchner, Frenz Jordt,
Christina Zartmann