Series of studies, using A-Life, on the disappearance of the image


In this work, "Alive Life" , the pixels of the digital representation of Da Vinci’s famous drawing - an image which depicts the ideal proportions of the human (male) body –, become alive, mimicking the behavior of skin cells. New visual representations of the famous image occurs from their autonomous iterations.

The choice of da Vinci’s “The Vitruvian Man” as the seed image for this project is due to its symbolic value. It shows a characteristic vision of the world centered on men, typical of classic culture. According to the notes attached to the drawing, it was made following the human male body proportions stated in the famous treaty of the Roman architect, Vitruvio.

A digital representation of this image is an important document of contemporary culture. It establishes a connection between classical tradition and the contemporary world. A six century-old drawing, it was massively reproduced and transformed into a pop icon of the 20th century. When this image finally becomes “digitally alive”, a new step is added into its “story”.

The second aesthetic choice is the implementation of the behavior of the epithelial tissue’s cells on the dark pixels - the lighter pixels serve as nutrients. This option is due to the fact that this work addresses the contemporary human body: The digital “extended body”. And thus, the skin is ideal to implement a metaphor that enhances this concept since it is the biggest human organ. It is made of several layers of epithelial tissue. The squamous epithelium is the specific type of epithelial tissue that covers its surface.

The common rules to both virtual and biological species that have been implemented are as follows:

  • Cells feed from nutrients;
  • The telomerase determines the number of reproductions - and it shrinks every reproductive action;
  • Mitosis is only possible when the cell has a specific size and enough nutrients;
  • The children resemble their parent totally;
  • When there are no more telomerase the cell gets into apoptosis and slowly dies


Taking as a start point Borges´s Library of Babel - a vast library containing all possible 410-page books of a certain format -, we can extend the idea and imagine all the possible stories that we can tell using the words from an initial book.

To produce an equivalent exercise with an image, we have to explore all the combinatory compositions we can produce using the pixels of an initial image. All the possible images produced only by changing pixels positions.

On this series , depending on its initial light and color, each pixel is determined to be a living agent or simply a nutrient. Thus the agents will move through the image producing new images, a part of the previously refered domain of possibilities. In this particular case using the colors and dimensions of the digital representations of Duchamp,s works.

For an interesting article on EveryImage take a look at Mc Cormack.


Addressing the status of the digital image as representation, this series starts with the digital representation of the famous artist paitings as we can find them in internet. Depending on its initial light and color, each pixel is determined to be a living agent or simply a nutrient. The agents will move freely through the image searching for food and producing new imagery.