Karl Sims

Karl Sims is a digital media artist and visual effects software developer. His interactive works have been exhibited worldwide at the Pompidou Center, Ars Electronica, ICC Museum, DeCordova Museum, Boston Museum of Science, and at MIT. He founded GenArts, Inc. which created special effects software tools for the motion picture industry, and he also held positions at Thinking Machines Corporation, Optomystic, and Whitney/Demos Productions. Karl studied computer graphics at the MIT Media Lab, and Life Sciences as an undergraduate at MIT. He is the recipient of various awards including two Ars Electronica Golden Nicas, a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and an Emmy Award.

        Karl Sims

Interactive Exhibits:

   Flow, 2018, Interactive exhibit utilizing fluid flow and other simulations that react to the gestures and motions of visitors. Exhibited at the MIT Stata Center, Cambridge, Mass.

   Particle Mirror, 2017, Multi-person augmented-reality exhibit allowing visitors to manipulate particles in physical simulations as they move and generate sounds. Exhibited at the Museum of Science, Boston.

   Reaction-Diffusion Media Wall, 2016, Interactive simulation of chemicals that react and diffuse to create emergent dynamic patterns. Exhibited at the Museum of Science, Boston.

   Galápagos, 1997, Media installation allowing museum visitors to interactively evolve 3D animated forms. Exhibited at the ICC in Tokyo and the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass.

   Genetic Images, 1993, Allows the interactive evolution of abstract still images. Exhibited at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, and the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles.

   Interactive Video Kaleidoscope, 1987, A human-sized kaleidoscope creates colorized feedback patterns from viewers' faces. Exhibited at MIT and the SIGGRAPH 1988 Art Show in Atlanta.

Web Application:

   RD Tool, 2022, Interactive web application for exploring emergent shapes and patterns with reaction-diffusion simulations. (Runs best on a computer with a GPU.)

Computer Animation:

   Seven Experiments in Procedural Animation, 2018, Emergent digital textures and patterns, shown at ARS Electronica, and at 100 Federal Street in Boston.

   Evolved Virtual Creatures, 1994, Demonstration of research results show simulated block creatures performing various evolved behaviors.

  Liquid Selves, 1992, Computer animation of human forms and faces, produced for Art Futura and "Memory Palace" at the World's Fair in Spain.

  Primordial Dance, 1991, Animated sequences created using automatic morphing between "evolved" images.

  Panspermia, 1990, Animation depicting a life cycle of an inter-galactic botanical life form.

  Particle Dreams, 1988, Animated waterfall, snowstorm, and explosion, created with particle systems techniques.

  Excerpts from Leonardo's Deluge, 1989, Demonstration of choreographed image flow techniques.

  Burning Logos, 1989, Collection of animated fire simulations created using particle systems techniques.

  Inner View, 1989, Animations utilizing 3D Volume Rendering.

  Locomotion Studies, 1987, Animated walking stick creatures and inch worms.

Technical Papers:

   "The Surprising Creativity of Digital Evolution: A Collection of Anecdotes from the Evolutionary Computation and Artificial Life Research Communities" J. Lehman, J. Clune, D. Misevic... K. Sims, and many others. Artificial Life Journal, Vol.26, No.2, Spring 2020, pp.274-306
   "Evolving Virtual Creatures"
K. Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '94 Proceedings), July 1994, pp.15-22.
  "Evolving 3D Morphology and Behavior by Competition"
K. Sims, Artificial Life IV Proceedings, ed.by Brooks & Maes, MIT Press, 1994, pp.28-39.
  "Artificial Evolution for Computer Graphics"
K. Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '91 proceedings), July 1991, pp.319-328.
  "Interactive Evolution of Dynamical Systems"
K. Sims, Towards a Practice of Autonomous Systems: Proceedings of the First European Conference on Artificial Life, MIT Press, 1992, pp.171-178.
  "Interactive Evolution of Equations for Procedural Models"
K. Sims, The Visual Computer, Aug. 1993, pp.466-476.
  "Particle Animation and Rendering Using Data Parallel Computation"
K. Sims, Computer Graphics (Siggraph '90 proceedings), Aug. 1990, pp.405-413.
  "Choreographed Image Flow"
K. Sims, The Journal of Visualization and Computer Animation, Vol.3, 1992, pp.31-43.
  "Handwritten Character Classification Using Nearest Neighbor in Large Databases"
S. Smith, M. Bourgoin, K. Sims, & H. Voorhees, Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Sept. 1994, pp.915-919.
  "3D Image Synthesis on the Connection Machine"
F. Crow, G. Demos, J. Hardy, J. McLaughlin, & K. Sims, International Journal of High Speed Computing, June 1989, pp.329-347.

Bio-inspired Prints:

   3D Printed Objects, 2013, procedurally generated physical objects from density functions, available via Shapeways.

   Fractals, 2011, Images generated by iterative function systems related to Julia sets.

   Reaction-Diffusion, 2012, Images from Gray-Scott reaction-diffusion simulations.

   Evolved Noise, 2012, Images created by interactive evolution of procedural textures.

Math Machines:

A Three-Pendulum Rotary Harmonograph 2009, Create unique hypnotic designs with this swinging art table, as featured in Make Magazine.
Pascal's Marble Run 2012, A fun and tangible way to understand Pascal's triangle and the mathematics of probability.
Make the Platonic Solids with Lights 2021, Construct large 3D polyhedra with strings of LED lights.


Fluid Flow Tutorial
Reaction-Diffusion Tutorial
Understanding Julia and Mandelbrot sets
Interactive Fast Fourier Transform Tutorial


Ranked Choice Voting
Awards and Honors

© 1987-2022, Karl Sims, All rights reserved.