“Primordial Dance” by Karl Sims

  • ©, , Primordial Dance
  • Video still from YouTube


    Primordial Dance

Artist(s) and People Involved:

    Filmmaker, Video Artist, or Animator(s):


Artist Statement:

    Primordial Dance is an experimental animation containing a progression of abstract textures and colors. It is a study of emerging and transforming mathematical equations. These effects were created using an interactive process of “artificial evolution.” The artist and computer collaborate to produce images and movements that neither could easily produce alone. The computer generates and displays a collection of experimental abstract images. The artist chooses the most aesthetically interesting images, and those survive and are “bred” to produce a new collection of images. The equations, or artificial genes, of the survivors are copied, mutated, and mated by the computer to generate new offspring pictures. This process of variation and selection is repeated, and with each cycle more complex and interesting results can occur. Finally, movements are created by performing “genetic interpolations” between these evolved images. This piece contains a series of these interpolations applied to various sets of evolved images. karlsims.com/primordial-dance.html

    Software and Animation: Karl Sims
    Music: David Grimes, Target Productions
    Drums: Jim Salem, Abbi Spinner, Ken Schachat, Seth Goldstein
    Thanks to: Peter Schroeder, Lew Tucker, Gary Oberbrunner, Matt Fitzgibbon, & Dave Sheppard
    Hardware: Connection Machine CM-2

    For further information see:

    “On the origins of a 13-second segment of Primordial Dance: a brief Karl Sims interview with commentary” Glenn Smith, Digital Creativity, January 2020.
    “Artificial Evolution for Computer Graphics” K.Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph ’91 proceedings), July 1991, pp.319-328.
    Genetic Images interactive exhibit where visitors evolve abstract still images.



All Works by the Filmmaker(s) in This Archive: