Mutant Garden Seeder consists of 513 time-based “responsive paintings” designed by Berlin-based Harm van den Dorpel, released in collaboration with Folia.
This artwork uses an algorithm called 'Cartesian genetic programming', intented approximately twenty years ago by Julian F. Miller and Peter Thomson. It is called ‘Cartesian’ because it represents a computer program as a two-dimensional grid: nodes and layers. Althought the result of Harm's specific use of this algorithm is also two-dimensional, the algorithm is versatile and can also generate completely different systems, such time based media, human language or three-dimensional structures.
When a mutant was minted, the transaction hash of the current Ethereum block was taken as a seed. This seed determined both the appearance of the artwork and the frequency of its mutation. After birth, every artwork mutates based on on its own rhythm. The result is an evergrowing sequence of SVG files of the birth and mutation states, that can be deterministically recalculated. As each mutant is a simple computer program, they can be executed in the browser, responding to resolutions and aspect ratios (the artist calls this 'the phenotype-affecting environment').
"As we also encounter in genetic encoding in "real nature", the genotype contains many redundant genes, which are well known to assist in effective evolutionary development.
In Mutant Garden, clicking one rectangular 'mutant' will cause its siblings to be replaced with newly mutated offspring. This breeding strategy requires only one parent to be selected because the algorithm utilizes mutation, rather than cross-over.
As many people nowadays tend to equate articial intelligence with neural networks, I wanted to highlight the evolutionary progress in this recent history of computation, approaching it as algorithmic archeology. Each new innovation in this lineage aimed to improve or declare its predecessor obsolete, yet would simultaneously stand on its shoulders." — Harm van den Dorpel