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Scott Draves’ Electric Sheep project combines distributed computing, open-source software and a thumbs-up or thumbs-down ranking system with some heady psychedelic magic to generate a flock of colorful screensavers, or “sheep,” that can be used (and created) by anyone online.rn
rnThe project draws its power from users’ computers and generates designs that survive on the basis of their popularity–the audience votes for their favorites, and, according to the project’s Web site, “the more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and crossover. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience.”rn
rnThe Electric Sheep Web site also traces the genealogy of the “sheep”: This page show three generations, including the two parents of a sheep, and the design’s offspring.rn
Using Draves’ open-source sheep-design tools, fans of the digital critters can create their own versions. “If your sheep are popular,” Draves writes on his blog, “they will interbreed with the rest of the flock and produce children.” Here, a mandala-like sheep flashes its best peacock colors in hopes of attracting a mate.
Because of the voting scheme and the “genetic” algorithm, the designs are always shifting and morphing into new eye candy.
Examples of different sheep.
Some images look like they are being viewed through 3D glasses.
This one looks like a high-definition, neon version of a design made with the ’60s-era Spirograph toy.
Just plain trippy.
Digital evolution in action: a genetic cross-fade from one sheep to another.
Some patterns are reminiscent of Celtic designs.
Same destination, different journey: This image shows eight possible genetic cross-fades to the sheep in the column on the far right.
Many designs look like astral shots or, perhaps, microscopic organisms.