Christa Sommerer/Laurent Mignonneau

Phototropy II

"Phototropy" is a biological expression describing the force that makes organisms follow the light in order to get nutrition and hence, to survive.

The interactive computer installation Phototropy II speaks about virtual insects and organic growth that follow the light of a lamp, held and moved by the visitors in the installation.

In Phototropy II computer generated virtual insect-like organisms, like bees, moths and dragonflies will follow and fight for light, seeking for nutrition. The real physical light of a lamp nourishes these virtual insects by giving them life-supporting energy. The artificial creatures follow the light and try to reach its central focus. Each movement the visitor does with the lamps beam, the creatures will follow, in order to get a maximum of light nutrition.

Insects are born in cocoon-like structures, that grow on the screen. These cocoons are nests where different insect types are being born. Each cocoon bears a new insect larva, that waits to be raised by the viewer.

The visitor can decide: if, and how many cocoons he wants to awake and how many new larvae he wants to nourish with his lamp. By lightening onto the cocoon, the insects will wake up and start to fly. When reaching a certain quantity of light, the insect-like artificial creatures are able to reproduce. Two creatures will then produce an offspring, that carries the genetic code of the parents. By carefully moving the lamp on the projection wall, one can increase the insect population within seconds, creating a swarm of flying insect populations. If the insects on the other hand do not reach enough light or if one switches off the lamp, the insects will die immediately.

The visitor has to be careful with his lamp: if he directs the "hot spot" of the lamp too long onto the insects, the light becomes dangerous, burning the insects to death. The visitor therefore becomes responsible for the creatures creation, their evolution and their survival.

In Phototropy II real light controls artificial life and functions as a natural interface, that links real space with virtual space.

Christa Sommerer born 1964 in Gmunden, Austria, studied Biology at University of Vienna and Art & Modern Sculpture at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria

Laurent Mignonneau born 1967 in Angouleme, France, studied Video and Computer Art at Academy of Fine Arts Angouleme, France

Collaboration since 1992:

Institute for New Media at Staedelschule Frankfurt;
Artist in Residence at National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Urbana, Illinois, USA
Artist in Residence ICC-NTT Japan
Invited Researchers and Artistic Directors at ATR, Kyoto

Permanent Installations in Collections:

ICC-NTT InterCommunication Museum, Tokyo, Japan 97
- Life Spacies
Media Museum of the ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany, 97
- Interactive Plant Growing
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan, 96 / 95
-Trans Plant & Trans Plant II
AEC Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria, 96
Musee d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, France, 96
- Intro Act
NTT Tokai Nagoya, Nagoya, Japan, 96
- A-Volve
Exhibition extract:
To April 1997
"ICC Museum", permanent collection, Tokyo
"Media Museum of the ZKM", permanent collection Karlsuhe, Germany
"Inter Act", Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany
"Jenseits von Kunst", Neue Galerie Graz, Austria
"Interaction 97", Gifu, Japan
"A-Volve", Kunsthalle Bonn, Germany
"Wunschmaschine Welterfindung", Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
"Ars Electronica Center", permanent collection, Linz, Austria
"3D Vision", Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, permanent collection, Tokyo
"A-Volve", NTT Tokai, permanent collection, NHK Nagoya
"Electra", Henie Onstad Kunstcenter, Oslo, Norway
"ARCO'96 ", Fundacion Arte Y Tecnologia, Madrid, Spain
"Biennale de Lyon", Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon
"95 Kwangju Biennale", Kwangju, Korea
"Triennale di Milano", Palazzo dell' Arte, Mailand, Italy
"ArsLab", ExtraMuseum, Turino, Italy
"ARTEC'95", Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan
"Revue Virtuelle", Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
"Inter Design Award" at "Japan Inter Design Forum" Tokyo, Japan
"Ovation Award" at "Interactive Media Festival" Los Angeles, USA
"Multi Media Award" at Multi Media Association, Tokyo, Japan
"Golden Nica Award" at Prix Ars Electronica '94 for Interactive Art, Linz, Austria