Hopeful Monstrosities

A set of wooden figures illustrating the scientific hypothesis of Genetic Saltation

Royal College of Art, 2015

Carolus Linnaeus' «Philosophia Botanica» from 1751 stated «Natura non facit saltum» - A sentence and thesis that Charles Darwin would follow and on which he would base his theory of natural evolution. The meaning of it being that a species mutational changes within generations do only occur gruadually and not in big "leaps".

This old debate has risen again during the last few decades. Saying that "Innovation" to nature's variety cannot be only accounted by small, gradual changes, but has also to be driven by sudden large and critical ones, so to alter organisms radically and create "hopeful monstrosities" - creatures that may just die but may also become superior to their relatives or lead to a new kind of species. These "miracles" during evolution are controversially discussed since the very beginning of Darwinian theory. Computational evolution models make use of nature's evolution principles, but don't reflect the possibility of such large genetic saltations. This project suggests the intentional use of this hypothesis in computational evolution simulations by presenting three artificial species evolving by a genetic algorithm that allows for sudden large, radical mutations instead of only small and gradual ones.