Paintings that Evolve through Group Action –
January 20th, 2007

I was at the Entheocentric Salon in Chelsea tonight to hear “Spot” (a.k.a. Scott Draves of and speak about the ElectronicSheep Screen Saver that evolves as people who have downloaded it vote on Electronic Sheep they like the most.


Note: this is screen shot of one of Spot’s new Electronic Painting paintings

People can also create their own Electric Sheep to upload to the screensaver using a program that was created by the user community for Electronic Sheep (Draves did not write it and cites this as an example of Creative Commons and how is program is continuing to evolve beyond his own creation of it).

According to a Siggraph press release:

“…Scott Draves – Electric Sheep realizes the collective dream of sleeping computers from all over the internet. It’s a distributed screensaver that harnesses idle computers into a render farm with the purpose of animating and evolving artificial lifeforms. The project is an attention vortex. It illustrates the process by which the longer and closer one studies something, the more detail and structure appears. “

Actually, the Ethneocentric Salon, where Scott Draves (spot) spoke and showed his newer work is part of the COSM (Chapel of Sacred Mirrors) where the art of Alex and Allyson Gray can also be seen.

This was my first visit to COSM, but I noted that BED NY (where I attended TechCrunch 8 last November) is located right next to COSM, and when I left the club, about midnight, the W 27th street block was full of people waiting to get into the clubs located on this block (27th street and 10th Avenue).

Getting back to, Spot showed his newer work along with the screensaver and thinks of himself as an abstract painter in line with Kandinsky, tried to evolve a unique visual language that’s interactive and evolves based on group action over the internet. Interesting that Draves has just moved to NYC where he hopes to get gallery representation for his electronic paintings …. Good Luck Scott – I can always write you up in my blog which is beginning to get a large readership for Art in NY.

What makes this even more interesting is this Art Form becomes more refined the more people vote on the Electric Sheep. Spot sells this customized, hi rez versions of his programs with a standalone computer, hard drive and display and just had a version of his program installed in the GooglePlex. In fact, John Hawkins, someone important at Google, admitted in his blog a strong admiration for the creator of Electronic Sheep, which he calls the “best screensaver ever”. Hawkins also comments in his Live Journel on December 13th of having a lot to do with getting Spot’s work into the GooglePlex, where people are stopping to stare at the wonderful electronic painting installation.

In a way, I think Spot is doing just what Seth Godin mentioned in my coverage of Google Unbound, here in NYC, at the New York Public Library, earlier this week. Seth mentioned that it’s important to realize what business your really in in order to be successful in the widest sense. Electronic Sheep is given away as a screensaver, created under the Creative Commons license (yes, given away); but the demand for Spot’s work, as a “Souvenir” of his journey combining art and technology, is growing rapidly and Spot’s souvenirs (electronic paintings) can be quite expensive (an artist has to survive, after all).

Seth Godin’s genius idea is to give your ideas away freely in order to create demand for your services which are then well paid for (the “Souvenir” idea – a “token of the journey”) has spawned the ideas of other writers, like Chris Anderson, author of the Long Tail – said exactly the same thing at Google Unbound this week – he gave away the book to as many people (esp any bloggers for review) as he could in hope of creating a “long tail of blogging reviews” that led to many paid speaking engagements and corporate presentations. I guess it’s a form of …..”in giving we receive”. Many authors at Google Unbound, in fact, were critical of their publishers for not doing enough of the right kinds of relevent promotion – but that’s the subject of another post by me, was first covered here at Smartmobs,, by Judy Breck in her post earlier this week about Google Unbound conference).

Overall, a young crowd, packed COSM tonight (many came from far distances to hear spot speak), where it was also possible to see several artists, including Alex and Allyson Gray paint in what is scheduled to be an all night session. If I could say anything about the crowd attending, it’s a young niche audience, one that I’m trying to figure out myself (how that audience formed) but it may have been more niche than the mainstream audience that I think, Scott Draves would have liked to addressed – the one’s that will buy his large electronic paintings and the dealers who’d show them in Chelsea and Soho…but that’s the subject of another post in another blog.

I had an important idea about their Chapel of Sacred Mirrors I wanted to share with Alex and Allyson Gray – but the club was too packed for me to share my idea(s), and I decided to leave and communicate what I have to say later. However, I will mention the main part of my idea – the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors really ought to be a destination in Second Life beyond what they’ve done by housing it in a Chelsea nightclub.

Links: ElectronicSheep,
HiFi Dreams, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, WebMetricsGuru, SigGraph

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