According to artist Jane Prophet, TechnoSphere is an “evolution simulator that enabled people to create their own creatures and communicate with them as they grow, evolve and die in a virtual three-dimensional environment.” In the screen-grab from the website, users first choose to make an Herbivore or Carnivore, then are presented with a choice of body parts with which to create their A-life (artificial life) creatures. The creatures then go off to compete with other creatures for resources with the programmed goal to survive and reproduce, hence the artist’s description of the work as an “evolution simulator.” There was no visual display to watch the action, however, those who parented creatures would receive periodic updates on their creatures’ size and weight and reproductive success.
Subsequent iterations added visualizations. As prophet further noted, “Developing the real-time version of TechnoSphere gave us the opportunity to show the creatures in their context. Providing a graphic window onto the TechnoSphere virtual world is a first step towards highlighting the importance of environment in shaping the life forms that inhabit it.” She continued,
In April 1999 we installed the first of our real-time 3D systems at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television at Bradford, UK. Wired Worlds is a new gallery at the recently refurbished Museum and showcases a number of interactive digital art works, with the aim of using them to highlight recent technological developments. The installation at Bradford enables the visitor to see in real-time that which has been hidden behind closed doors.
The artist’s goal for the museum version of TechnoSphere was to make it “highly visual, fast, fun and easily accessible.” Audience members are invited to create an artificial life creature on a touch-screen display (uncommon at the time) from an extended palette of textured body components. They could then see their digital spawn interacting with other creatures and the environment in real time.
Artist Jane Prophet discusses TechnoSphere in the BBC video (starts at 27.54)