Jon McCormack

Completed: 2017Client: Transport for NSW


2017, duration 12 mins, looped

Jon McCormack

Born 1964, Melbourne, Australia
Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia


Artist Statement

The Unknowable is a mediation on our changing relationship to nature in a globalised, disconnected virtual world we now so effectively navigate through digital media.

The work shows five distinct virtual plant forms, each evolved using custom computer software that mimics biological evolution. Each of the five forms is derived from plant species native and significant to the Sydney region.

The plants slowly disintegrate, decomposing into their fundamental structural component – the polygon – then reform anew in an endless cycle of destruction and reconstitution.

Playing on contemporary global anxieties such as terrorism, biodiversity loss, digital fragmentation and the looming spectre of climate change, The Unknowable is a lament for that which we can never really know: our nature.


Production Credits

  • Concept, programming, animation: Jon McCormack
  • Lighting director: Quan Tran


Produced at SensiLab, Monash University, Melbourne

Artist Biography

Jon McCormack is an Australian-based artist working at the nexus of art, technology and society. His experimental practice is driven by an enduring interest and research in computing. McCormack’s practice incorporates generative art, sound, evolutionary systems, computer creativity, visualisation, virtual reality, interaction design, physical computing, machine learning, and developmental models. Inspired by the complexity and wonder of the natural world, his work is concerned with electronic ‘after natures’: alternate forms of artificial life which, due to unfettered human progress and development, may one day replace a lost biological nature.

His artworks have been widely exhibited at leading galleries, museums and symposia, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, Tate Gallery Liverpool, UK, ACM SIGGRAPH, USA, Prix Ars Electronica, Austria, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia. He is the recipient of over 16 awards for new media art and computing research including prizes at Ars Electronica, Nagoya Biennial, Japan, the 2012 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science, and the 2016 Lumen Prize for digital art (still images). He is currently the director of SensiLab at Monash University in Melbourne.

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