Eran's Blog

Soup of Life

“Soup Of Life” is a Toolkit for Creating Primitive Virtual Life by Eran Hadas and Omer Markovitch. Debuted on “Oh-Man-Oh-Machine” Conference/Exhibition, Hamidrasha Gallery, Tel-Aviv, as part of “HeLa, forms of Human Existence”, curated by Daniel Landau and Udi Edelman, 2014. The audience is invited to squirt RGB colored ketchup-like liquids into a primordial soup bowl and create life from their own recipe! It’s part of a larger effort, Information and Mind, a multidisciplinary organization working to investigate the evolving modes of human-agency in information society.

Soup Of Life

The origin of life is a scientific problem, focusing on the moment in which for the first time inanimate chemicals transform into a “living entity”. This puzzle encapsulates more general questions, such as: What is Life? What entities in nature can be called living?

Institutions such as NASA, who research various life forms, tend to define living beings as those who are capable of self-replication and inheritance, that is passing information from generation to generation (or put another way – to produce mutations between generations). One goal of such research is to find the most basic structures that meet this definition, assuming they may have served as the building blocks of our life.

This installation simulates the behavior of lipids, whose molecular structure causes them to selectively cling to each other and form clusters. When the cluster becomes too big, it splits into two smaller clusters, creating a new generation of clusters. The behavior of lipids is unique in that they have a probabilistic preference for grouping with certain molecules over others, so that their composition is not random but an evolution one, taking after previous generations. Therefore, the lipid model meets the above definition of life.

Soup Of Life

The physical part of the system is comprised of 3 liquids with different chemical properties, and a bubbly pot of primordial soup. The audience is invited to affect the composition of the soup by adding the liquids to it, instantly affecting the virtual model. The simulation shows the family tree of the virtual life, namely the generations and ancestors of each cluster, so that the environmental effect of the physical intervention can be seen. The recipe for the newly created life is also available.

The project was made possible thanks to the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the incredible personal help of co-curator Daniel Landau who turned out to be a top maker.