The Art of Steven Rooke
While working as a senior systems
programmer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories
(NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona, Steven Rooke began spending much
of his personal time investigating the fields of algorithmic
art and ecosystem theory. A discussion of Gaia Theory
with Drs. Ralph Abraham (1)
and Rupert Sheldrake (2)
inspired him to leave NOAO and begin a new career, combining
computer and evolutionary sciences with art.
As in biological evolution,
Steven Rooke's art is brought to life through a Darwinian
cycle of reproduction, random mutation, and survival of the
fittest adult "organisms" through competition and
cooperation to reproduce again. Images are selectively "bred"
from an initial population of approximately 100 images that
were created earlier. (3)
Offspring of this process are then examined by Rooke, who
assigns an aesthetic
fitness score to each image. After this subjective
evaluation, the command to "spawn" is given. The
images then reproduce by a "sexual mixing" of the
virtual genes of the parents. Random mutations are also introduced
during this process.
Just as a fertilized animal
egg grows into millions of cells, each containing an identical
copy of its DNA, an image is "born" when its genetic
structure is expressed as millions of colored pixels.
Just as an animal is born with an identical copy of its DNA
in every cell, each pixel in a piece of evolutionary art contains
an identical copy of the "genes" of the entire work.
After a visually appealing image has evolved, Rooke terminates
the process of evolution (the equivalent of a mass extinction)
and begins a lengthy process of fine-tuning the image for
the production of a high quality photographic print.
The image on the cover of this
book, "The Awakening of the Noosphere," took approximately
172 hours of processing on an SGI workstation to compute.