Electric Sheep
Scott Draves
Brief description of the work:
Electric Sheep is an open source screen saver for PC or Mac. When the computers "sleep", the screen saver comes on and the computers communicate with each other via the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep".
Materials, dimensions, duration:
Electric Sheep is a "distributed" program with a server and a client component. The client is a screen saver program that renders a single frame of a new sheep animation and uploads it to the server once complete. The screensaver also downloads a cache of animated sheep for playback. The server is the web interface for users to monitor the flock's progress. It collects frames rendered by the clients and creates animated sheep. It further stores the most recent members of the flock for distribution to the clients. Every five minutes, a new sheep is born on the server and is distributed to all clients for display. Each sheep is an animated fractal flame display.
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):
Electric Sheep is run by thousands of people all over the world.
Audience information (size, mode of participation):
By installing the software, the user joins a collective evolution of animated fractal flames. Anyone watching may vote for their favorite animations using the keyboard. The more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience. Users can also design their own sheep and submit them to the gene pool.
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
Floorplan, scheme:
Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Observing systems in action
Further context:

Electric Sheep realizes the collective "android dream" (an homage to Philip K. Dick's novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep') of sleeping computers from all over the internet.

It is a generative piece in that it displays the sheep one after another in a continuous, ever-changing sequence. New strands can be created and uploaded. One sheep morphs into another.