A modern demo of evolutionary programming creating rendered virtual lifeforms, bots with generational variance trying to walk. Put together by Eugénie von Tunzelmann - video embedded below:

Ever since reading Richard Dawkins’ book ‘The Blind Watchmaker’ I’d wanted to try my hand at some evolutionary programming. The idea is to model natural selection inside the computer by generating procedural creatures and allowing them to vary and improve over time without user intervention.

The code to build and rig the robots was written in Python, as was the code to run the rigid body simulation, using the Open Dynamics Engine to drive the sim. I wrote an importer for Side Effects’ Houdini to read in my robot simulations so I could render them out as pictures.

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Nazca Lines and Animals

The famous lines and animals carved into the Nazca Desert of Peru were made by hand in the simplest possible way: by systematically moving dark stones aside from the desired shape to reveal the lighter colored desert clay beneath. This process leaves the resulting figures, called geoglyphs, as a slight depression in the ground. Visibility is enhanced by the dark edges of the lines where the rocks are concentrated after removal (inset figures).

Lines were made over vast scales, some being as long as 9 mi (14 km). The animal outlines (biomorphs) are smaller, though still so large that they are best seen from the air. The humming bird is 886 ft (270 m) long and the spider about 164 ft (50 m) across. The geogyphs are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are strictly off limits to visitors, but some can be seen from a tower built especially to view them.

Geoglyphs were constructed by people of the Paracas and Nazca cultures. Modern dating suggests that the figures may have been built in stages over a period of time, perhaps between 200 BC and 700 AD. Composed of Cretaceous-Tertiary volcanics, the rocks were washed down from the Andes Mountains. Their relative darkness is partly the result of a coating of desert varnish formed over thousands of years. The underlying, hard pan, desert floor is tough and resistant to weathering. However, since the lines were first constructed, aeolian sediments have blanketed the area, somewhat altering the original color and contrast of the lines.

The picture at top shows archaeologist Katharina Schreiber inspecting the eye of a pelican. At right Schreiber and Renate Reiche are shown standing on one of the many long, straight lines. Renate and her sister Maria spent decades investigating, documenting and protecting the geoglyphs. - Dave Lynch


Rudolf Steiner, First Goetheanum, (1920)

“After an abortive attempt to build a centre for the anthroposophical movement in Munich, Rudolf Steiner was able to erect the headquarters of his new organization not far from Basel. His entirely timber-clad design was made in 1913. Building soon began and the first Goetheanum was opened in 1920. At the same time, strange edifices connected with the movement grew up around the new ‘temple’ in the grounds at Dornach. The Goetheanum was burnt down on New Year’s Eve, 1922/3 and was replaced by a new building in reinforced concrete. Steiner’s work falls into no stylistic category, its idiosyncrasies and originality makes it as unique as the Czech phase of Rondo-Cubism.”


Taj Mahal by Marc Shandro 

The Art of Parchin Kari – Marble Inlay
The parchin kari at the Taj Mahal is one of the finest quality examples of the era. At the Taj, the technique is used most spectacularly to depict well observed blooms and flowering plants. Similar to the Italian technique known as ’pietre dure’, a variety of colored stones including lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate and garnet, were used to achieve stunning depictions of the colorful flowers of India. Even greater detail was achieved by carefully choosing pieces of each gemstone with differing tones. This variety of hues enabled the craftsmen to give the impression of shading and depth in each flower.



Kenzo Tange, Yoyogi National Indoor Stadiums, (1961-1964)

Built for the Tokyo Summer Games in 1964, the complex consists of two indoor arenas connected by a central spine that also houses ancillary and office functions. Structural design was handled by Tsuboi Yoshikatsu and his associate Kawaguchi Mamoru, but Tange’s team participated extensively in a joint design process. The basic structure for both buildings relied on cable suspension technology developed for bridges, but as an architectural project, the challenge was to  create interior enclosures under the span. The urban aspects of Yoyogi Stadiums deserve as much notice as the project’s obvious formal virtuosity. One of the last large undeveloped tracts in central Tokyo, the stadium area was conceived as part of a ring of major open spaces in the cities dense center. The site plan extends beyond the stadium site’s boundry in the northeast corner to include a traffic intersection, a signifigant urban intervention to bring together the dense fabric of upper Shibuya and new large-scale institutional facilities such as the local ward office, the headquarters of Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NKH), and the stadiums themselves. The two spiraling tails of the stadium site provide further linkage from the upper Shibuya area to Harajuku and Meiji Shrine.