The entire 35-year archive of Whole Earth Catalogs, along with its Supplements, and descendant magazines – CoEvolution Quarterly, and Whole Earth are now available on the web. The Whole Earth Catalog,was published in 1968 by Stewart Brand, it and its related magazines embodied a certain type of Californian environmental thinking. A key concept was systems – which included thinking about people, and computers, as well as ecosystems, and when I read first read issues of the magazine as a teenager in the 1980s it was my first exposure to systems theory.
The full archive is in a difficult to navigate scanned form, which is difficult to link to or search, however some of the later articles are available as text. However the archive includes lots of interesting stuff. For example, Dana Meadows famous article on where to intervene in a system there. Other interesting bits include articles by ecologists such as HT Odum, Paul Ehrlich, and Buzz Holling as well as an issue focused on scenario planning.
I’m not sure if their an art project or practical tool but these autonomous biomorphic Robot Jellyfish are interesting. From National Geographic:
Propelled by flexible, electrically driven tentacles, robotic jellyfish swim at the Hannover Fair.
Using a type of “swarm intelligence,” the Festo company’s so-called AquaJellies set their own courses and can come together or avoid each other as needed. The robots “talk” via light pulses underwater and via radio at the surface.
On Technium Kevin Kelly writes:
One one level, these autonomous robotic jelly fish illuminated the mechanism by which real jellyfish swim. … The parallels in their motions — clearly visible in the video — feel so organic that we immediately assign them life-like adjectives.
I think we are primed to find lifelikeness in machines. E.O. Wilson calls it our biophilia — our intense attraction to living things. As we design machines to approach the complexity of organisms and mimic their behavior (as these do), we will be very quick to include them in our love.