The Laboratory of Babel is a speculative research institute for the study of emergent virtual structures. We develop tools and methodologies for exploration of novel forms and processes in-silico.
Our experimental approach is open-ended, process based and interdisciplinary. We contend that virtual structures should be explored not only as simulations of real-world systems, or as solutions to real-world problems, but as independent subjects of research. To us, computational forms and processes are more than just representations of observable phenomena – they are observable phenomena.
Our worldview imbues virtual structures with intrinsic, rather than instrumental value; necessitating a unique research methodology that is neither scientific, nor artistic per-se. If a traditional scientific approach is grounded in observation of external, physical, measurable processes, and a traditional artistic approach is grounded in creative expression of internal, abstract, mental processes – than our approach is hybrid:
We apply computational modeling techniques to explore the vast space of plausible, potential and possible virtual structures. The unfathomable size of this search space dictates that a careful balance between observation and creation is reached.
Draft diagram of experimental methodology
[further sections in About:]
The Laboratory of Babel is a speculative research institute for the study of emergent structures. We develop custom tools and methodologies for exploring the vast space of plausible virtual phenomena in search for genuinely novel forms and processes. Our approach differs from conventional computational modeling approaches, as we see intrinsic value in virtual artefacts. To us, they are more than just representations of observable phenomena — they ARE observable phenomena.
As physical and virtual worlds are nowadays becoming increasingly intertwined, we believe that synthetic, abstract artefacts may soon have a tangible affect on physical reality, despite lacking any relation to physical objects.
We study the domain of computer programs that describe large systems of interacting components. While the space of such programs most likely consists almost entirely of chaotic and incoherent behaviour, our contention is that within it are also countless instances of miraculous exceptions: instances of higher order complex phenomena of exquisite beauty and perhaps of potential use. There is no theoretical limit to the expressive power of such programs and their number exceeds that of atoms in the observable universe by many orders of magnitude. Thus, our search will never be exhausted.
Imbuing virtual artefacts with intrinsic value involves stripping them of both function and metaphor. Unlike in traditional scientific approaches – they are not seen as instruments; their creation is not designed to better understand real-world systems, nor to solve real-world problems. They are simply instances of abstract, synthetic structures. nothing more and nothing less.
Manifesto / mission statement
There is going to be a formal document/ position paper that outlines, in more specific terms the goals of research at the laboratory.
- It will clearly define the term: emergent virtual structures (EVS)
- It will discuss the need for and potential future of EVS exploration.
- It will introduce the philosophical worldview pertaining to the intrinsic value of virtual phenomena.
- It will introduce a number of aesthetic guidelines that offer a conceptual infrastructure for open-ended explorations of EVS.