Digital Blood

The Poietic Generator will be at the International Festival of Electronic Literature OLE.01, Royal Palace of Naples, Italy, between 8 and 31 October 2014.




« Digital Blood », is this to say that our blood would have to be digital? This is a first approximation the question raised by Olivier Auber through a network installation that takes the form of a robotic reliquary connected to the world.

Neapolitans will understand the allusion: for six centuries, they celebrate every year in several churches in the city, the miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro, who died in the early fourth century. A reliquary containing a few drops of blood taken from him, is presented to the crowd each time expecting its verdict: as the blood appears liquid or dried, it is a blessing or rather a dark omen for all the community.

As the reliquary of San Gennaro, Digital Blood offers an experience to which everyone can participate, whether in the exhibition, or from any point on the planet. Via a smartphone, tablet or computer, anyone can connect to to draw with all those connected at the same time: the image of the collective interaction of all participants is displayed in real time on the reliquary Digital Blood presented in the exhibition. This image is also available everywhere and everyone can observe it and display it as he/she wishes. Moreover, it is permanently diffused in various locations in Paris, Brussels, London, and soon: Mumbai, Bamako, Hong Kong, etc.

Thus, moment by moment, everyone can see if we act together as a human community (liquid), or if we behave as agents, absent or indifferent to each other (dry). Digital Blood and raises a prospective question: if our exchanges are required to be made one day exclusively through technology, will we still be human? Or will we become robots?


Olivier Auber is an artist and independent researcher member of the research group of the P2P foundation, affiliated to he lab « Evolution, Complexity and COgnition » (ECCO, Free University of Brussels) and to the Global Brain Institute

Contact :
Blog :
Live image :
Site of the festival :

Autumn 2014 agenda

The Poietic Generator will be involved in the followings events :

Poietic generator – Home edition

This is an unexpected discovery: the poietic generator can also become an object, a piece of furniture or a painting! How I found it? Simple: for a long time, I used an old PC to continuously display the overall picture of GP for technical purposes. Then, the PC is dead. Then a friend recommended me to use a Raspberry PI to replace the PC. Eureka! Suddenly the screen and raspberry PI assembled together become a single object that I first left lying on my table, then I hung it above my fireplace. Since then, whenever someone draws on the poietic generator from across the world, a small digital flame comes alive under my eyes. It’s like a global digital fireplace!


My little global digital fireplace and the oe of a friend of mine.


Then an idea came: Why not distribute this item in one form or another to fund the project? Obviously, the poietic generator is free, this object must also remaain free and everyone can tinker for by cheap following this manual. But nothing prevents those who want to buy it (fully assembled and configured) for a certain amount of money at their convenience in order to support the overall project. Say that the basic price is the hardware (approximately 80 € off screen) assembly (20 €) and port (depending on destination). The purchase price shall be at least 100 € + possibly some money as a gift (cf. DONATE button).


Table and wall versions using second hand 17′ screens (35 €)


The PI raspberry can be connected to any display, screen or projector, in the most various configurations.

Mons (Belgium) & everywhere : thursday, March 20, 2014 – 12:00>13:00 (UTC+01)


The Poietic Generator will be displayed at Mons  (Belgium) during the VIA festival from Thursday, March 20, 2014. This is a preview of what may occur next year  in an urban context during Mons 2015 (European Capital of Culture).

I propose an online rendez-vous thursday, March 20, 2014 – 12:00>13:00 (UTC+01) on
The global image that we will create will be displayed not only into the exhition, but also in Paris (NUMA & La Tapisserie), in five publics spots in Brussels, one in London, maybe one in Bamako, etc.

Please let it know to some friends who may join the poietic experiment…


Photo : Philippe Franck

Your Permanent Poietic Hotspot: Do It Yourself!

Your receiver may look like this, but you may want to customize it in a Louis XV style by adding a golden frame. Of course, the receiver may also be connected to a beamer (a pico or a giant one).

First : buy a few pieces of hardware for about 60 €/$
here for example



  • Raspberry PI (version B)
  • RPI plastic box
  • Power supply RPI (micro USB, 1 Amp min)
  • SD card (min 4G0)
  • WiFI dongle (WI-PI recommended)
  • USB hub (2 ports min) in order to connect a USB mouse & a USB keyboard (removed after installation)
  • HDMI/VGA converter (only if you use a VGA screen/beamer) otherwise a HDMI cable.
  • An old screen or a beamer.


  • Format the SD card by using your PC with that kind of tool (Windows). See other formatters here, i.e. this one for MAC.



  • Download NOT the latest Raspberry Pi’s New Out of Box Software (NOOBS) which is to heavy a 4G0 SD card, but a previous version (
  • Unpack the NOOBS zip file onto the SD card (use WinRAR for example)
  • Eject the SD card from your PC and connect it to the RPI.
  • Plug your Raspberry Pi to DC. You will see this page:



  • Choose Raspbian and your language and keyboard type. Click « Install ».
  • Reboot after the end of installation. Then you will get this page.



  • Change the password.
  • Enable boot to desktop
  • In advanced option, enable SSHSelect « Finish » and reboot. You will get this screen:



  • Open « WIFI Config ». You should see wlanO if you choosed a good WIFI dongle (WI-PI recommended).
  • Click on « scan », select your WIFI hotspot, select the WEP or PSK…
  • Enter your password. Click on « add », then »Connect ».
    You should see that an IP is attributed to your RPI.

Configuration (thx to pikisok for the tutorial)

  • Launch the LXTerminal from the desktop. You must be root.

    sudo su
  • Update the list of packages and install git
    (copy/paste the following command into the LXTerminal & Return. It will take a while to execute)

    sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get install git-core
  • Install chromium, x11-server-utils and unclutter (to hide the cursor from x11)
    sudo apt-get install chromium x11-xserver-utils unclutter
  • Prevent the screen from going black and disable the screensaver.
    sudo pico /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart
  • Find the following line and comment it using a # (it should be located at the bottom)
    #@xscreensaver -no-splash
  • and append the following lines
    @xset s off 
    @xset -dpms
    @xset s noblank
    @chromium --kiosk --incognito
  • Save (Ctlr X), reboot.
    sudo reboot


Your receiver should display non-stop the full-screen picture of the Poetic Generator. Enjoy!
In a future update of this document, I will explain how to configure the Raspberry PI to become an open poietic hotspot.

Okay, if your find this a bit complicated, your may order one receiver to me for a few €/$ more. It would be a way to support the project.

Contact : olivier DOT auber @



Codepoetry Slam 1.1


This is the text of a submission to the Codepoetry Slam 1.1 held at Stanford University, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

The Poietic Generator is a social network game takes place within a two-dimensional matrix in the tradition of board games and its principle is similar to both Conway’s Game of Life and the surrealists’ Exquisite corpse. Every player draws on a small part of a global mosaic formed by the dynamic juxtaposition of those parts, which are manipulated by all the participants (eventually it will be possible for several thousand players to play simultaneously). Every player can therefore change the sign in his/her square, depending on the overall state of the image, which itself depends on the actions of all the individual players. Out of this cybernetic loop emerges a kind of narrative: autonomous forms, sometimes abstract, sometimes figurative, appear in a completely unpredictable manner and tell stories… There is no concept of winning or losing, the goal of the game is simply to collectively draw recognizable forms and to observe how we create them together.

The Poietic Generator is known as one of the historical works of digital art, interactive art, generative art and The project has been launched a long time ago (1986!) at a time when the technology did not allow massive experiments. Nevertheless, small scale sessions performed over the web or experimental networks with various online communities have provided a good proof of concept.

In 2014, time has come to launch some bigger scale experiments with the help of citizen from all over the world. That’s why, the project is going to be launched as citizen science research. Its goal is to give to citizen scientists a direct observation and a better understanding of crowd phenomena (self-organization, temporal behaviours, panic, etc.), as well as providing data to scientists in order to challenge various theories which may predict some global behaviours and dynamics. Various research groups in Europe are already involved in the project. Some researchers from Stanford may come onboard. Why not ?

The judges may have idea of the huge potential of the game by testing it. But please, test it together at the same time with your smarphone or tablet. Keep in mind that it is a collective game.