Jon McCormack, Codeform, Virtual Ecosystem of Artificial Life, 2012

Artificial Life created from museum visitor’s tickets, 2012.
Commission for the Ars Electronica Museum, Linz, Austria.

Codefom is a real-time 3D stereoscopic work developed specifically for Deep Space in the Ars Electronica Centre. Visitors to Deep Space can use their museum entry tickets to generate the “DNA” of a virtual creature that grows and develops in an electronic ecosystem. The QR code on each ticket is used to generate an artificial life-form that is unique to each visitor. Each new life form develops from an egg that floats in a pool on the floor. After a short time the embryo develops and hatches, beginning to move around within Deep Space. Here the creature may join other creatures that have been created by previous visitors in a digital ecosystem. Creatures mate and create offspring. Some creatures may die and others survive, creating a dynamic environment unique to each group of visitors. The most adapted creatures live on until the next show, moving about the floor. A visitor who returns to a later show can track the progress of their creature over evolutionary time and see how it has fared in the ecosystem and what it has evolved to become. While visually strange and electronic, the ecosystem of Codeform suggests an affinity with nature from the processes and behaviours of the system rather than its form and appearance.

Codeform is a reflection of popular concepts of genetics, it questions the influence of an individual in a collective society and the codification of the individual by technology. Inspired by the diminishing and changing relationship between natural and human-made environments, Codeform provides a glimpse into a new form of electronic nature.


This project was developed in collaboration with the Ars Electronica Future Lab and with support from Monash University and the Australian Research Council (Discovery Project DP1094064) and is part of Studiolab funded by the EC Seventh Framework Programme. The Australian Artist-in-Residence program at the FutureLab was initiated and produced by Novamedia in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts and Ars Electronica.

  • Original Concept, Programming, Direction: Jon McCormack
  • Programming and Deep Space support: Benjamin Mayr
  • Sound design: Peter McIlwain (Sonic Design)

Codeform was developed as part of the Australian Artist-in-Residence program at the Ars Electronica FutureLab.

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