Sonic Horticulture!!

neuralMix is a system for the interacting with and breeding genetically encoded sonic entities (albeit very simple ones). Each entity is comprised of a network of simulated cells based on neurons. Each neuron

  • is connected to the network through an output map
  • receives signals from other neurons via its input
  • fires (send output to the network) when the internal mechanisms reach a given threshold
  • make a noise when they fire
  • may effect the entities tempo when they fire
  • may (species dependent) receive external input Each entity has a genetic code that describes the specific details of the above.



When two entities are mated their genetic code is copied, severed and recombined to make two new entities.

This new genetic code is also 'irradiated' to introduce small random errors or changes.

Children therefore inherit traits from their parents.

The entities parents names are treated in the same way, hence the entity is given a name that charts its heritage.

The creation of a new species is a lengthy creative process, neuralMix was implemented in 3 ways.

  • cadeMix
  • vsMix
  • p++



Pop Idol meets genetic engineering in a sonic breeding experiment to create the perfect 30 seconds rendition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Five performers are selected from a group of 20, inter-breeding produces a second generation of 20, which in turn are tested. Every 5 minutes a new generation of performers is produced, each more self-referencing and genetically pure, separated only by random errors in reproduction. p++ was broadcast by rand()%.


comments: the first real species - this was created specially for the CADE01 conference held in Glasgow and was exhibited as part of the 'generate' sound exhibition. The species was installed on two neuralMix environments on separate iMac's, users actions then drove the populationsto evolve differently. Although neuralMix is created as a tool for my own use, the exhibition of the software as a Art in its own right raised severalinteresting questions.

gentic code source: The starting generations were all taken from the conference proceedings. The presenters abstracts were interpreted through a system designed by the artist to produce individual genetic code.

sonic sources: A standard MIDI bank (providedaspart ofthe Beatnik Xtra for Director) was used for this species.

input: you can stimulate all the neurons by simply rolling your mouse over them




comments: vsMix species was originally developed to evolve 2 entities for the installation Viral Synthesia.

gentic code source: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (

sonic sources: A midi bank created from capturing ambient and object related sounds from the Central Library, Manchester, UK.

input: the 4 neurons to the left and right of the made 8 neuron loop act as the interface.

In Viral Synthesia these received information from the Library Space Simulation, in the neuralMix player you can only stimulate these (tickle them by rolling over them).


screen shot


p++ screen shot