Architecting Emergence Through Computational Simulation

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Today, life seems increasingly prescribed, recursive, normalizing. Stories depicted by mainstream media are increasingly divided. What are the conditions that enabled such narrowing experiences?

What Is A System?

A system is an entity made up of interrelated, interdependent parts, members, or agents. The word system first appeared in publications in 1948. Biologist Ludwig Von Bertalanffy used the term to in order to create a universal language to describe various organismic scientific phenomenons he had observed.

Human Body Regulates Temperature Automatically with Control Actions
Negative Feedback and Homeostasis


However, systems do not always narrow, or normalize their internal states. Sometimes, when a system’s members interact with each other, it could result in entirely new properties of the system which could not be anticipated from the characteristics of the individuals alone.

Cadavre Exquis with Esteban Francés, Remedios Varo, Oscar Domínguez, Marcel Jean. Untitled. 1935. Source:
Cadavre Exquis with Andre Breton, Jacqueline Lamba, and Yves Tanguy, 1938. Source:
Tulip trading price between 1634 to 1637. Source:

A World Is Not A System

Collective actions among human members do not take place in well defined biological or mechanical systems. They happen in a world. A world shares many similarities with a system. Similar to a system, a world has boundaries that separate it from the outside environment. Similar to a system, a world takes actions and maintains its own balance. Similar to a system, a world is not static, but in a constant state of flux. Similar to a system, once in a while, a world emerges from the pain of growth, transcending into a new realm. However, artist Ian Cheng thinks that a world should also contain mystical figures(Cheng, 2019).

Ian Cheng, Emissary in the Squat of Gods (live simulation and story, infinite duration, 2015). Source:

Architecting Emergence through Computational Simulation

Worlding is the active making of worlds. In ancient times, worlds were made with blades and scrapers. In modern times, worlds were made with machines. The world we live in today is constructed through pixels, soundbites, data, and algorithms. We interact with the world and each other through computers, a set of containers, rules, and relations. To be in an active relationship with the world, one must erase the world, subjecting it to various forms of manipulations, preemption, modeling, and synthetic transformation(Galloway, 2012). In order to restore the magic back into the world, instead of allowing it to grow narrower, less colorful, we must embark on a journey of Collaborative Worlding.

Screen Capture of ThingThingThing, a virtual simulation made collaboratively. Souce:

zzyw is an art and research collective producing software, installations, and texts examining the cultural, political and educational imprints of computation.