2007 Rockefeller New Media Foundation Proposal
The Somnolescent Intelligence installation enables people to interact with a virtual world, and in particular with an autonomous animated character who has simple computational dreams. This character, called the Dreamer, lives in a forest of ethereal trees. The Dreamer, who tends the trees, wanders around the world and remembers each tree in her forest. Periodically she sleeps, and dreams about the trees in her world. Her dreams are visualized above her head, and help her construct an understanding of the diversity of the trees that she tends. Visitors to the installation can alter the appearance of the trees using a mouse. Visitors may also use the mouse to intervene in the Dreamer's dreams, affecting the mental representations that she forms about her trees. The installation also includes a microphone through which people may hum quietly at the Dreamer to encourage her to sleep and dream peacefully, or make harsh noises to keep her awake or disrupt her dreams. Periodically the Dreamer plants a tree, the appearance of which reflect how well rested she is; through this process, the appearance of the virtual forest begins to reflect the way in which visitors have been interacting with her. Every several minutes a new Dreamer is born, and the old Dreamer sits down with her successor and passes on her primary mental representation of the trees in her forest.
dreams; interactive installation; human-computer interaction; artificial intelligence; artificial life; dream simulation