Laboratory for New Media 20th Exhibition
“Wannabe Life” -Searching for Brooks'Juice

Laboratory for New Media Permanent Exhibition periodically updates contents of exhibitions to introduce the various possibilities of expression provided by information science and technology.

The domain of artificial life research is introduced in the exhibition. It addresses the nature of life and determines what kind of phenomenon “lifelike-ness” is, while testing observable, life-like aspects in artificial objects. You encounter four pieces of artwork that represent “semi-life,” lying between the concepts of “life” and “non-life”. “Semi-life” describes the kinds of objects which appear to be moving through its own volition, based on patterns of movement too complicated for the observer to be able to predict what they will do next—in other words, objects which seem to be striving towards life. However, they cannot truly be described as being “life.” It's because it has been said that they lack the essential ingredient that would make them alive—sometimes referred to as “Brooks' juice” in reference to the scientist Rodney Brooks, who described this concept. The task of artificial life research is to search for and find this elusive essence. We hope that you will enjoy looking for “Brooks' juice” here, using your eyes, ears, and powers of movement.

Interview for Supervisor

“Maria , Artificial Life, Membrane, Fish”(2018) Exhibitor:Takashi IKEGAMI+Takumi UEDA

This piece presents the questions of what life is, how life is born, and how life is not born, within an exhibition space that resembles a womb. The seven objects hanging from above hint at various possibilities for creating life, in other words, seven stories. For example, some are historical experiment and another is a phenomenon finding in daily life. However, these things are still “semi-life.” It is here that Maria makes her symbolic appearance. How should the word “Maria” be translated into a scientific word? The stories must go on.

“Astral Body”(2018) Exhibitor:plus one

The living creatures that exist around us have bodies – shapes and forms – that we can see with our own eyes to understand what they are. At the same time, they also exist in our mind’s eye, in the traces they leave behind in the world, and by the sounds they make.
This piece was created based on the hypothesis that the true essence of life lies in the presence or absence of signs of life. It expresses the concept that life exists by showing the audience traces of life – the evidence that life has left behind and moving shadows. This piece encourages the audience to develop a more liberal definition of what life is by suggesting that life is more than just something contained within a physical form.

“Moment of Perception”(2018) Exhibitor:anima

Many people have likely had the experience of only realizing how important something is once it is gone.
Have you ever witnessed something vanish in an instant before your eyes? Have you ever suddenly become aware of something, noticed something, and started to feel an emotional attachment to it, only to have it fade to dust as you approach? This piece allows the audience to feel the lingering memory of life by showing us strange, moving inorganic matter that disappears as we watch it.

“Unidentified Sound Creature” (2018) Exhibitor:Unidentified Sound Creature Countermeasures Unit

Many people have probably heard the popping sound made when you pour boiling water into your kitchen sink. This countermeasures unit considers such sounds the byproduct of an unidentified sound creature. This piece imagines that the sounds heard throughout our daily lives show the presence of life.
If you listen, you can also often hear whirs, honks, and snaps all around you. There are many sounds in the world. People who enter the countermeasures unit are invited to imagine that these sounds come from a diverse range of possible origins. Visit the unit for yourself and express your own understanding of these sounds.

Term June 20(Wed), 2018 - October 31(Wed), 2018
  • Takashi IKEGAMI
    Professor, Department of General Systems Studies, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo

    Completed Doctoral Course (Majoring in Physics), Gradual Department of School of Science, The University of Tokyo in 1989 (Doctor of Science). Served as Postdoctoral Researcher at Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University; Assumed Position of Research Associate at Natural Science & Technology, Kobe University; Employed as Associate Professor at General System Studies Major Course.