Scott Draves and the Electric Sheep

Software Artist
Engineer, Google Inc.
New York, NY
What is the relationship between man and machine? Can digital life have organic subtlety?

I run an internet-distributed supercomputer consisting of 450,000 computers and people. My algorithms date from 1992. Each image is a form of artificial life, with its own genome. I started this collective intelligence - the Electric Sheep - in 1999 with an open source screensaver that anyone can download and run. All the computers work together to render the animations, or "sheep". Users contribute via open source, crowdsource, and voting. Popular sheep mate and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm; the flock evolves to satisfy its human audience.

I use the screensaver as a design laboratory and factory to realize my museum-quality pieces. The final creations are like paintings. By applying supercomputer power and the techniques of artificial intelligence to image synthesis I create works beyond geometry and the limitations of a single human, with detail rarely seen in digital art.
Generation 244
26"x34", 41GB, 1920x1080p, infinitely running, non-looping.
Animations made by custom genetic algorithm on a distributed supercomputer, custom software, computer, screen, aluminum frame
2011
Scott Draves invented the Flame algorithm in 1992, and open-sourced it. Since then multiple applications have been created that allow designers to create their own flames. Draves is considered the first Open Source artist and his code has become widely used, for example on the cover of Paul Simon's last album and Stephen Hawking's last book.

Scott started ElectricSheep.org as a way to get the processing power to render Flame animations and created a cyborg mind fueled by the interest of the users. The art evolves via crowd voting and genetic algorithms. Scott selected the designs in "Generation 244" as the apotheosis of the genepool in the fall of 2010; a custom algorithm runs 41 GB of 1080p abstract animations seamlessly and infinitely without looping. Generation 244, a limited edition of two, is in the private collection of Carnegie Mellon University and owned by an individual collector; this is the artist's print. It has been shown at Life/VIDA in Madrid and many galleries.
Blue Universe 243
15"x21.5", 1280x720, 21:34 loop.
Animations made by custom genetic algorithm on a distributed supercomputer, computer, screen, lucite frame
2010
This piece tells the story of the birth, life, and transformation of a universe. The smoothly morphing animations are made by the Electric Sheep, an internet-distributed cyborg mind made up of 450,000 computers and people. The framework for the genetic material of all sheep is an open-source algorithm with thousands of parameters and millions of variables created by Scott Draves in 1992, called Flame. Sheep reproduce by Darwinian evolution, survival of the prettiest; viewers all over the Internet judge the art on the fly soon after it is generated by their computers.

The sheep in Blue Universe 243 represent this story:

singularity-the birth of the universe, strings, space, the planet and organic chemistry, life through photosynthesis and metabolism, sex (recombination), the egg, the womb, birth, being, consciousness, technology (society), transhumanism, singularity.

The story represents Draves' artistic desire to explore and deepen the relationship between human and machine.
Dream 165.25305
24"x24"
custom genetic algorithm, chromogenic color print
2007
Scott Draves invented the Flame algorithm in 1992, and open-sourced it. Dream 165.25305, the "Golden Thistle", was created using the Flame algorithm and Scott's Electric Sheep project, an internet-distributed supercomputer consisting of 450,000 computers and people. Users contribute via open source, crowdsource, and voting. Popular sheep mate and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm; the flock evolves to satisfy its human audience. Although frequently mistaken for feathers or some other photographic image, this image is pure math. Each image is the result of a massive processing effort and a form of artificial life, with its own genome. Scott has a BS in Math from Brown and a PhD in Computer Science from CMU and been selected by the Prix Ars Electronica, Telefonica's VIDA 2.0 and 4.0, Art Futura, Japan's ACA Media Arts Festival, ISEA, and many more. Draves' code has become widely used, for example on the cover of Paul Simon's last album and Stephen Hawking's last book.