Daizaburo Harada’s Artificial Life interactive CD-ROM is like some kind of otherworldly biology textbook. It features countless weird and fantastical creatures row by row, grouped perhaps by some unseen scientist’s criteria.
Aside from artist’s comments, the book is presented entirely free of text, encouraging the reader to come up with their own interpretation.
Published by Pioneer in 1993, right at the height of when an artist could still release a CG art book and make a splash, Artificial Life is an odd duck. The creator was a multidisciplinarian artist who had made his first big splash in the art world with TV War (1986), a collaboration with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and digital artist Haruhiko Shono. In the next decade, he did a little bit of everything, from a live CGI concert with Ryuichi Sakamoto to producing the surreal imagery for NHK’s science program The Universe Within II: The Human Brain & Mind.
He began experimenting with unusual ways of generating 3D art, using random data and other procedural generation techniques to see what kind of imagery he could create. As time progressed, he started collecting a kind of bestiary—he leaned into an organic direction with his art, creating entities that were at once completely alien but also recognizable as a kind of life.
“CD-ROM Journal is your guide to the most interesting, obscure, and strange games and multimedia art throughout history. My goal is to bring you fascinating things you’ve never heard of and to provide deep dives into underexplored art. I have a particular, though not exclusive, focus on Japanese CD-ROM games.”
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