Centre for Cognitive Science (COGS)

Rachel Cohen: Evolutionary art: the Chinese Whispers Generative Drawing Project


Rachel Cohen, artist & independent researcher: www.rachelcohen.co.uk
25th Oct 2011

This paper will present independent research centred around a participatory drawing game and describe a series of collaborations with scientists where this process is used to collect data. Delegates will be invited to contribute to the project.

The game is 'Chinese whispers' - English name for 'broken telephone' - played with drawings. In a simple transmission chain individual A copies my drawing, B copies A's drawing, C copies B's and so on. In a second version called 'natural selection' the players are allowed to choose one of a set of drawings to copy. 

I describe two experiments with cognitive scientists and focusing on visual perception - how our brains interpret ambiguous images and the impact on learning to draw from observation. A third experiment uses the game as a model of evolution by natural selection. 'Populations' of drawings are created and each participant in turn chooses one to copy and one to eliminate so the whole set evolves. 

I will reveal and discuss some artistic and scientific findings from these experiments.