Gardenus

net art by Mark Cypher

“Natural selection over the long run does not seem to improve a species' chance of survival but simply enables it to "track," or keep up with, the constantly changing environment" "Richard C. Lewontin

The practice and making of artificial life is a metaphor for neo Darwinist ideas about nature and the evolution of organisms. There are numerous convincing arguments for and against Darwin ’s theories. Indeed the ideas hidden within Darwin ’s narratives depend as much upon who is telling the story, when it is being told and by whom, without forgetting the organic species themselves. In fact one could easily discuss the evolution of the ‘story’ of the evolution of a species. Similarly the artwork, “Gardenus” allows the user to change one of Darwin’s evolutionary tales and as such participate in the endless reproductive possibility of the signification of an organism.

Gardenus was originally written in Lingo using Director. The director plugin no longer works in browsers so it has been filmed

Nature as an ideology- suggests that the idea ‘nature’ can be seen as a systematic scheme of ideas held by particular social, political, and cultural groups and that what we define as nature is partly a human intellectual construct. Attempts to restructure nature around us, such as in the case of gardens, is an historical and contemporary attempt to build a network of ideologies, defining landscape and nature and ourselves in the process. Sharov suggests, that the reproductive value of certain signs is dependent upon processes of symbiotic or co-evolutionary signification and communication ". In this way, gardens have long been the test beds for prototyping the mutation of certain species. In broad terms, a garden- is defined by the objects that it contains in a network of contextual relationships. As such, the garden may be conceptualised as a melding of idea, place and action . As an ‘idea' the garden signifies the illustration of an underlying function, philosophy, and aesthetic expressed through its design. As ‘place' the garden exists as a space within which materials and objects may be arranged, all seen within the context of the surrounding environment and user. As ‘action', the garden grows in connection with human involvement both through its construction and preservation and through the experience of it.

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The contested ground of the garden provides a fertile space in which relationships mutate, signs get bent and emerge out of shape. Therefore what signifies as nature and by relation gardens has been subject to mutation and change over time; leaving nature and ourselves subject to the endless reproductive possibility of signification.