Fractal Dream Interpretation
February 1, 2005 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Electric Sheep: Collaborative Fractal Generation
Electric Sheep is a distributed screen-saver that harnesses idle computers into a render farm with the purpose of animating and evolving artificial life-forms.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.

You can look at some fresh samples or you can read the Interpretation, watch the Sheepumentary, post a comment, design your own or design them and post them to their server or download a copy and play along at home.
You can even get a copy of the source code to play around with if you're so inclined.

Me? I'm just gonna look at the pretty pictures.
posted by fenriq (17 comments total)
Damn, much apologies, the picture links go to thumbnails, pretty unimpressive little thumbnails.
posted by fenriq at 11:01 PM on February 1, 2005

repost, but still pretty nice.
posted by ori at 11:14 PM on February 1, 2005

Looks cool. Sadly seems to be a bit slow at the moment. To take the load off take a look at the similar but different (and not as pretty) darwin@home.
posted by arse_hat at 11:15 PM on February 1, 2005

I've been fascinated by fractals for years and had no idea this existed- thanks for linking to it, fenriq. Also for fans of fractals: Milkdrop for Winamp, the single greatest visualizer ever. Milkdrop frequently generates moving fractals like the kind I thought I could only see while chemically hallucinating.
posted by baphomet at 11:30 PM on February 1, 2005

ori, now why in the heck wouldn't a search for come up with that? oh well. Been a while, its neat.
posted by fenriq at 11:43 PM on February 1, 2005

Oh yeah, there are bigger pics to be seen, the original links have a view tab on the bar, bigger pics.
posted by fenriq at 11:50 PM on February 1, 2005

Same name, different shit.
posted by scarabic at 12:32 AM on February 2, 2005

Uhhhh ... ahhhh ... very nice!
posted by homodigitalis at 12:39 AM on February 2, 2005

Thanks, fenriq. Even knowing it had been done before, I've been meaning to do an FPP on this. The thing that's new is that the collaborative screensaver project now works with Windows.

A simple way to get started with these is with the standalone screensaver that stores completed images locally. Some sample images are here.

If you are interested in REALLY experimenting, get Apophysis, a free fractal flame generator and editor. (Make them big enough to print.) There are some sample images shown here. WOW.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 3:50 AM on February 2, 2005

Wow, the colors! Thanks fenriq.
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:39 AM on February 2, 2005

I ran this screensaver on my dual-screen Linux machine in my last job. It was fast, slick, and everyone commented on it. And if they asked, I could tell them how it was generated distributedly, and they pretended to be more impressed. I loved running it.

Now I have a Windows machine in a domain that won't let me change the screensaver settings, and a Solaris machine that's creakingly slow anyhow.
posted by Plutor at 4:44 AM on February 2, 2005

This is the single greatest screensaver in the history of humanity....

For me to trip out on.
posted by Freen at 7:12 AM on February 2, 2005

Still doesn't actually work with Mac OS X, same as when I tried it last time it was posted. Sad.
posted by kindall at 8:32 AM on February 2, 2005

There is a DVD rendered at higher resolution and mixed to music. You can dowload some low res samples here with a creative commons licese, which is nice. I have been meaning to buy this DVD for ages.
posted by ollybee at 11:56 AM on February 2, 2005

Kindall, I downloaded it last night and had it running inside of five minutes. What OS X version are you on? It won't run below 10.2.

And its worth the download! I had the Stevie Nicks style "sheep" going last night with the flowing gauze thing. Kind of nice, especially with some music.
posted by fenriq at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2005

Ollybee, I've been a big fan of Scott Draves for a number of years. I bought the DVD as soon as I found out about it. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. The flame fractals are very nicely morphing just as you'd expect them to be. However the stills I was most interested in seeing animated turned out to be just stills floating around the screen without any of the transforming flame fractal goodness I was hoping for.

Also of note is the free After Effects plugin AEFlame that allows you to create your own flame fractal animations.
posted by J-Garr at 1:03 PM on February 2, 2005

One of my on line associates has been doing this for a while now and he's accumulated a really nice gallery of stills of his "sheep" from it. Some of them are really quite awesome. I have been wanting to play with it, because I love fractals ... but my computer is so decrepit that it barely has enough cycles to keep it's own damn self up and running. I have installed though and messed around with Apophysis, and it's quite addictive.
posted by Orb at 9:43 PM on February 2, 2005

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