The mathematician Nils Aall Barricelli created artificial living organisms in 1953. This simulation recreates his original experiments, adding color and animation.
The image represents evolutionary history. The oldest generations are at the top, with each child generation advancing from top to bottom. Each swatch of textured color within the image indicates a different bionumeric organism. Borders between color fields mean that an organism has perished, been borne, mutated, or otherwise evolved into something new.
I've written two pieces on Barricelli, a shorter text published in Cabinet magazine, and a longer essay titled The Computational Image of Organization published in Grey Room.
Here are some larger images using a variety of different evolutionary rules: