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Virtual Breeding

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Art Gallery

A few years ago Philip Galanter created 100 Random Chromosomes, a series of digital prints randomly generated by computers using software he wrote. The idea was to create a process by which computers mimic aspects of genetic reproduction. The result was 100 “chromosomes” that varied in appearance depending on the virtual genes used to create them.

Philip Galanter. Details of 100 Random Chromosomes.
Digital print, approx. 70" x 53" 1996.

Some chromosomes were more aesthetically pleasing than others, and Galanter took elements of these to generate new ones, again letting computers do most of the work. His software mimicked changes that occur during reproduction in nature, such as genetic mutation.

Philip Galanter. Untitled (F041443B).
Digital print, approx. 29" x 21" 1997.

“Like a gardener selectively crossbreeding flowers, I selected the panels that were to my liking, and then applied genetic operations to the chromosomes,” says Galanter, who is Associate Director for Arts Technology at New York University. “The resulting paintings have characteristics of the various panels which made genetic contributions to it.”

Philip Galanter. Detail of Untitled (F091148).
Digital print, approx. 40" x 30" - 2002.

Today, Galanter is trying to push the notion to the point of creating a virtual ecology. In such a world, works of art resemble their “parents” and it’s survival of the fittest. As the software that does the “breeding” is refined, the art’s only limitation may be what lies in the gene pool.

To see more works by Galanter, visit the artist’s Web site.

All images are courtesy Philip Galanter.

— Edward R. Winstead


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