rootexhibitionsgeneral description
computational organism

organic machinery

A showcase of combinatorial walking insects.


These organic machines were inspired by a commission from the Manyfold Collective and the myriad flying, creeping, crawling, sprinting, and biting insects of the Lone Star State.

Each computational organism is constructed from a set of individual, hand drawn elements. Unique graphic elements are attached, hinged, scaled, and skewed to anatomical specification. Locomotion and behaviors are also uniquely modified. The resulting walking machines are diverse in both appearance and behavior.   wing geometry
figure a. an overlapping group of possible wing graphics

Graphic elements are divided up into categories that describe their function and general appearance. These categories are head, thorax, abdomen, wings, antennae, and legs. The legs are further grouped into femur, tibia, tarsus, and claw categories. Construction of each organism is arbitrary. The selection of individual elements from each category is a combinatorial process that ultimately renders tens of thousands of unique organisms.

Walking attributes are randomized across a limited range of values. This includes gait, cadence, leg length, walking height, and stability. All organisms follow a 3 by 3 walking pattern, where no more than three legs are ever off the ground at the same time. True to common insect locomotion, the front pair of legs guide and pull, the back legs push, and the middle legs stabilize and support the insect.

a collection of computer bugs

figure b
. a typical collection of 36 arbitrarily assembled insects

Originally installed for the Austin Museum of Digital Art, December 10, 2002.

Code by Jared Tarbell.
Illustration by Lola Brine.

levitated design & code