Karsten Schmidt - C-SCAPE #181

C-SCAPE #181

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Cellular Automata are one of the oldest and simplest classes of generative systems. Beginning with the highly abstracted, reductionist models of artificial life research by Stanislav Ulam and John von Neumann in the 1940s, Barricelli in the early 1950s, then re-discovered, formalized, expanded and popularized by other mathematicians like Conway and Wolfram 20-30 years later, it's a long-running field of research, rich with unexpected surprises and new discoveries. C-SCAPE is (a partial) result of over 20 years of my own explorations and a celebration of these simple systems.

Most of my purely generative work has been about creating and harnessing emergent complexity & nonrepetitve, ever-changing behaviors (and their interactions) borne from extremely simple systems, mechanisms, algorithms & languages: Exposing, investigating (and yes, celebrating) generativity in its raw form. By minimizing, though not entirely avoiding, additional human aesthetic decision making (here primarily in the form of curating automata rules & color themes), I'm trying to focus the observer on the raw beauty of the underlying processes and bring it to the fore. My hope is, this too will lead viewers asking themselves the deeper questions about the nature of rules, behavior, order and complexity in their own lives, esp. in the current rising polarizing political & anti-science climate. Furthermore, I'd like to provide a counter point and emphasize the unique qualities of generative art, compared to other, more figurative and abstract art approaches.

C-SCAPE simulates a shared toroidal environment in which multiple cellular automata (CA) are evolving and influencing each other, forming short-lived symbioses and/or wiping each other out, only to be restored again later on. The automata are all operating on a single row of pixels at a time and therefore are only 1-dimensional. Yet, many of them also have a short term memory and can produce more complex structures/behaviors by utilizing their memory of previous cell states. Each individually minted version produces a unique system which evolves over time and never repeats.

The final selection of CA rules used in this piece is the result of many years of experimentation with 100,000s of different configurations and many (manual) review/pruning/cataloging sessions to encourage the minted editions to cover a interesting & balanced subset of the more than duodecillion (10^39) possible individual structures & textures (not including interactions and/or color variations)...


The piece in best viewed in medium/high resolution landscape format. The horizontal resolution should be at the very least 800 pixels, preferably double that or higher. There's a max. pixel resolution limit of 4096 pixels in either direction, but CPU performance might suffer at these resolutions. On narrow/mobile portrait ratios the piece will be shown 90 degrees rotated and is scrolling sideways.


- x : export current frame

- r : randomize environment




Minting this project will not guarantee inclusion in access lists for future projects.


Made in 2022 with <3 and thi.ng


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Edition Type


Date of Mint

June 3, 2022

Date of Acquisition

March 20, 2023