Summer 2015, Vol. 21, No. 3, Pages 332-343
Performative Apparatus and Diffractive Practices: An Account of Artificial Life Art
Drawing on our own art/science practices and a series of interviews with artificial life practitioners, we explore the entanglement of developments at the artistic edges of artificial life. We start by defining key terms from Karen Barad's agential realism. We then diffractively read artificial life together with agential realism to discuss the potential for interventions in the field. Through a discussion of artificial life computer simulations, ideas of agency are problematized, and artificial life's single purposeful actor, the agent, is replaced by agential, an adjective denoting a relationship rather than a subject-object duality. We then seek to reinterpret the difficult-to-define term “emergence.” Agency in artificial life emerges through what Barad calls entanglement, in this case between observers and their apparatus, a perpetual engagement between observations of a system and their interpretations. The article explores the differences that this diffractive perspective makes to artificial life and accounts of its materialization.