A very interesting project for all those interested in the bridging of technology and life took place during the Media Facades Festival in Madrid. Marie Polakova and Jonathan Cremieux used the Media Facade of the Medialab-Prado as a platform for integrating an artificial life form in the social interaction space of the festival. Interestingly they used algorithms modelling fungi life cycle and choral growth.
Mimodek is a dynamic and interactive installation, based on on the the principles of the living
As all living systems in nature, MIMODEK reflects its own environment. It is site specific, formed
by unique, location-related data sources, and by behaviour of the visitors. Every installation
evolves into a unique virtual “ecosystem” reflecting its location.
MIMODEK highlights the delicate relation between human beings and their environment, and their
connection to other living beings with whom they share this environment.
Mimodek is build in Processing and available as open source on GitHub
We got an in-depth description from marie, and who could describe it better then the makers itself:
Conceptual project description
Cities around the world seem to share the same pattern – their inhabitants highly
value nature. City dwellers seem to search natural habitats whenever they need to relax,
unwind,comfort or re-centre themselves. Nature in the urban environment is cherished, protected
In nature, everything we lay our eyes on is either alive or it serves as a basis for life. Trees aren’t
just logs of wood stuck in the ground – they are complex living systems which themselves are part
of yet another complex living system, the forest.
When looking at the social structures of a city, these function as living systems too (and show
attributes similar to those of the living systems found in nature).
However, although similarities can be observed between these two environments, the differences
What is the essence of this difference between the natural world and man-made (urban)
environments? What is “it” we miss in our cities and find in nature?
The above question inspired the creation of MIMODEK – dynamic and interactive artificial living
system which is based on the principles of the natural world yet “grows” from the fabric of the city.
MIMODEK is, similarly to living systems find in nature,interconnected with its environment. When
we step into MIMODEK’s proximity, we are immediately interacting with it. We cannot remain
detached observers, our mere presence is modifying it and it is affecting us in return.
Mimodek thus highlights the delicate relation between human, their environment and their relation
to other living beings with whom they coexist.
Physical Project Description
MIMODEK was originally created for the Digital Facade of the Medialab-Prado,Madrid, Spain. It
existed in three different versions. Please find further information in the “Credits” section.
At its essence MIMODEK is formed by the participants activity as well as the environmental
condition at the location of the installation.
Information about participants is obtained using a camera overlooking the area directly in front of
the installation. The camera images are processed using computer vision techniques. The
combination of camera input and computer vision is a common method for passing information
about an audience in a public space into a digital installation such as this.
Continuously updated information about participants and their locations is passed
over to the main MIMODEK software. This information is used to create an immediate response to
the participant’s behaviour which in turn forms the MIMODEK system.
The MIMODEK simulation and rendering software functions on three levels:
− I. Obtaining information about its environment:
Motion tracking the audience.
Obtaining site specific data from online sources.
− II. Life system:
Responding to environmental influences.
− III. Display – Visual output:
Creating the image to be displayed.
Displaying the images.
Sending the images to the server for display on the MIMODEK website.
I. ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES
As described above, the motion tracking software provides MIMODEK with information about the
position of the participants. MIMODEK also monitors the
temperature and the humidity in the location where it is running.
In most cases, this is achieved by querying a free Internet weather service, the
Weather Underground (http://www.wunderground.com).
Optionally, if the information is available for the particular location, an external
application on MIMODEK’s server obtains data about the air quality.
II. LIFE SIMULATION
MIMODEK is formed by two artificial living systems which are interlinked together into one
MIMODEK system is partially based on “ant fungus mutualism”. This pattern of symbiosis, which
involves cultivation of fungi and, in some cases, symbiotic relationships between insect and fungi,
was chosen for MIMODEK because it is an elegant yet simple representation of the complex
dependencies we all share with our environment.
MIMODEK relies on participants who come to the installation area. Information about their presence
is translated into flakes of “food” which appear on the display as white dots.
Little light creatures (“ants”) carry the “food flakes” to the root cells of the ”fungus” organism.
This food then nurtures the whole system and enables it to grow.
A light creature (“ant”) which discovers a food source, leaves a virtual pheromone trail behind it so
as to inform its fellow creatures of the presence of food.
The creatures, however, don’t eat this food by themselves, they deliver it to the fungus. The
creatures rather feed on a particular type of cell within the fungus organism. When the creatures
are sufficiently nourished, they can reproduce and more creatures mean more carriers of nutrition
for the main fungus. When the nutrition is insufficient, the creatures begin to die out and the growth
of the whole system is slowed.
The growth process of the fungus organism is based on diffusion-limited aggregation (DLA) and is
constrained by the amount of free space. DLA is an algorithm that generates highly branched and
fractal structures. Among others, it has been used for modelling the growth and form of natural
structures such as coral.
MIMODEK’s growth is only possible when a sufficient amount of nutrition has been absorbed. When
food is delivered by the creatures, the organism decides how to use the new energy. It can either
grow a main body cell (cell A) or a leaf cell (cell B). The decision process follows a set of rules
known as an L-system (Fig.3). The A cells remain in the structure, whereas the B cells, when
mature, can be carried away by two of the creatures and be eaten by them.
MIMODEK also continuously responds to changing environmental data.
The colour of the A cells responds to air temperature at the installation site while the relative air
humidity defines how much the organism expands or retracts.
When pollution data is available, it influences the colour of the B cells. When this information is not
available, the colour of the B cells is determined by the temperature, similarly to A cells, but a
unique colour scheme is used.
It was originally created for the Digital Facade of the Medialab-Prado,
Madrid. This facade is 14.5 m (48′) x 9.4 m (30′) yet has a resolution of only 192 x
157 pixels. MIMODEK can however be easily adapted to higher resolution displays such as
projection, which then reveals further levels of detail invisible on the Medialab-
Prado digital facade. MIMODEK can be exhibited at indoor or outdoor locations.
All credits go to the mentioned Developers. Make sure to contact them if you are interested about anything.
Now let’s keep up the discussion about artificial life and media.