Our paper presents an art installation exhibited internationally throughout 2018 at La Gaîté Lyrique gallery in Paris, KIKK Festival in Namur, and Cinekid Festival in Amsterdam. The collaborative project between artists and physicists examined the aesthetic possibilities of cellular automata (CA) driven kinetic objects to make theories of emergent life tangible to audiences of children and adults alike. Here we present our approach encompassing: narrative, material, hardware and computation strategies. The “Edge of Chaos” installation, inspired by Christopher Langton’s theory, is an artistic realization of emergent systems at the scale of inhabitable architectural space. The use of on artificial life approaches to behaviour offers distinctly different audience experiences to those in responsive environments that follow master-slave interaction paradigms typically found in Human Computer Interaction fields. Through the use of narrative these emergent behavioural systems and their implications for conceptions of life are articulated in way that is engaging and playful. Through the use of recent metamaterial research the project also provokes discussion on the potential of these material systems to lead to new forms of artificial life.

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