Artificial Life Screensaver

Scott Draves says, “The Electric Sheep makes art collaboratively with 60,000 computers and people all over the internet. It’s based on a free screensaver that anyone can download and run. As it runs you may vote on designs you like, and the favorites survive to reproduce with a family resemblance, hence the flock evolves to please its human audience. It also supports Intelligent Design: you can use a genetic editor to create your own sheep and upload them into the gene-pool. All the sheep are CC licensed and may be remixed or remade into your own work.

I use the free screensaver as a design laboratory and supercomputer to realize higher quality works such as all-over print t-shirts, limited edition c-prints, and high-resolution videos (like the one recently commissioned for the new Gates Center for Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and the sample from our Blu Ray). Our objective is to make this artificial life-form self-sustaining, so the revenue generated by these pieces funds the operation of and improvements to the open source screensaver.

For example, In the past 6 months the Electric Sheep have been totally remade. We have a new server (including support from and the client has been rewritten. The whole setup is 10x better than it used to be: the visual/genetic language is more expressive, the sheep have double the resolution and a better codec (x264), display is totally smooth, and download works for everyone.

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