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Source code: Barricelli

Built with Processing and Processing.js

Nils Aall Barricelli

Cabinet magazine published an essay by me on the work of Nils Aall Barricelli, maverick mathematician who created artificial living organisms... in 1953! A much longer essay on Barricelli has also been published in the journal Grey Room.

In order to create the image on page 49 of the Cabinet article, I restaged Barricelli's original experiments using Processing. Applet and source code is included here.

To maximize the resolution and readability of the image, Barricelli's visualization technique was altered in two important ways. First, the y axis of the image is compressed by a factor of eight so that each gene is the size of one pixel (whereas in Barricelli a gene was eight pixels tall). With this increased resolution comes an increase in the visualization of evolutionary time across the vertical axis. Second, color has been introduced in order to differentiate genes more easily.

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.

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Here are some other samples using a variety of different evolutionary rules: