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Mutator VR

William Latham, Stephen Todd, Lance Putnam

Computer art in virtual reality created by artist William Latham with mathematicians and software developers Stephen Todd and Lance Putnam.

East GalleryNUA was the first art gallery venue worldwide to exhibit Mutator VR, a Virtual Reality installation using original software modelled on the processes of evolution. Mutator blends organic imagery with state-of-the-art, real-time computer animation to create a highly immersive and original audience experience.

Resembling life forms from an alternative or even alien evolution, ‘Organic Art’ was originally developed in the late eighties by William Latham and Stephen Todd and this approach has led to the emergence of forms in virtuality, immersing the viewer in a super-surreal world of interactive evolving forms. 

Starting with a simple cornucopia form, the Mutator code introduces random ‘per-mutations’ in order to generate increasingly complex three-dimensional entities that resemble fantastical, futuristic organisms. The works refer us to Giger-esque ancient fossils, molecular structures, heavy metal architecture and Escher-like space-conundrums. Latham describes this process as “evolution driven by aesthetics”.

In East GalleryNUA the viewer experiences the work by wearing a HTC Vive VR Headset, equipped with two hand controllers to conduct the evolution of the artwork. The viewer wears headphones as part and parcel of an immersive sound experience.

Mutator VR was developed at Goldsmiths, University of London and The Digital Creativity Labs, Winchester.


Wednesday 23 November – 10am-4pm

As part of the Mutator VR exhibition NUA hosted a one day symposium exploring potential research and innovation themes stemming from the exhibition including: generative and evolutionary art; artificial intelligence; data, design and play; virtual reality; and the implications of living in a world where the boundaries between the analogue and the digital are ever-shifting. Speakers included:

  • Professor William Latham, (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Lance Putnam (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Liam Wells (Norwich University of the Arts)
  • Dr Scott Grandison (Norwich University of the Arts)
  • Stephen Taylor (University of Oxford)
  • Professor Stephen Todd (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • James Duez and Ben Taylor (Rainbird).