As digital media matures, you come to the awareness that real artistry and technique, not just newness, is what matters. So, look back just a few years to SIGGRAPH in 1994 for this extraordinary video by Karl Sims. (That’s not, like, a SIGGRAPH stage name, is it?) The work involves simple physics and 3D geometry, the likes of which will now happily run on your higher-end mobile phone. But there’s some great creativity here, and because of the real-time nature and easier coding of such things, it can become a performance tool.

This narrated computer animation shows results from a research project involving simulated Darwinian evolutions of virtual block creatures. A population of several hundred creatures is created within a supercomputer, and each creature is tested for their ability to perform a given task, such the ability to swim in a simulated water environment. The successful survive, and their virtual genes containing coded instructions for their growth, are copied, combined, and mutated to make offspring for a new population. The new creatures are again tested, and some may be improvements on their parents. As this cycle of variation and selection continues, creatures with more and more successful behaviors can emerge.

The creatures shown are results the final products from many independent simulations in which they were selected for swimming, walking, jumping, following, and competing for control of a green cube.

You can read the original research:

Thanks to Raphaël/Mancing Dolecules, maker of a new audio looper for iPhone, for the inspiration.