Moving Pictures: computers dream in concert thanks to artist Scott Draves
It was forty years ago now when author Phillip K. Dick first posed the provocative question “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” We all know how Ridley Scott answered the question.
But it turns out the prescient master of science fiction still inspires and challenges. In 1999, Scott Draves invented a free, open-source screensaver called Electric Sheep that allows a network of users’ machines to communicate with each other via the internet to collaboratively weave together morphing abstract animations known as “sheep.”
Not satisfied with simply facilitating the dream-time communication of computers, Draves set to work on a “painting that evolves” entitled Dreams in High Fidelity. This limited edition computer installation that is self-sustaining and self-renewing based on the network of computers that feed “sheep” into the project. Dreams in High Fidelity can be seen at Google Headquarters, and it’s also cataloged as a part of MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind website, which in itself is a mind-blower of a site, check it out ASAP.
Draves told MoMA: “The goal of the project is to create a self-supporting, network-resident life form: to make the soul of the machine visible.” Who says computers can’t dream?
Moving Pictures is an occasional series on the far reaches of film as art: