The Virtual Fish Tank

In this 2,200 square-foot virtual undersea world, visitors used interactive stations located in front of a giant projection display to design their own virtual fish, and then release them into the gallery-sized simulated fishtank. Once in the tank, the fish behaved according to the behavioral rules chosen by the visitor during its design. urprising behavior could emerge, such as gregarious fish forming shoals. The interaction with fish at a virtual feeding station could also produce unexpected results. Together with a set of interactive stations, the exhibit, created in conjunction with the MIT Media Lab and Nearlife, Inc., aimed to reveal how simple behavioral rules lead to distinctive emergent behavior in complex systems. Traffic flows and the formation of urban demographic distributions were some of the examples presented in the hands-on stations.

Information About The Exhibit

Opening: June 13, 1998

Square Footage: 2,200 sq.ft.

Cost: $1 Million

Sponsors: National Science Foundation, Anonymous, The Kapor Family Foundation, Sun Microsystems, Inc., Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation

In-Kind Sponsors: auto.des.sys Inc., Barbizon Light of New England, Bay Networks, Bose Corporation, Chromacolor Inc., Diamond Multimedia Systems, Lightscape Technologies Inc., MicroTouch Systems, Mitsubishi Electronics America, Motorola, NEC Technologies, Racore Technology Corporation, Sony Electronics, Stewart Filmscreen Corporation, Volition Cabling System from 3M


Funding: Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation, The Kapor Family, Sun Microsystems

Grants: National Science Foundation

Development: MIT Media Lab, The Computer Museum, Media Lab spinoff Nearlife, Inc.

Project Directors: Michael Resnick, MIT Media Lab; Oliver Strimpel, TCM; Tinsley Galyean, Nearlife Inc.

Media Lab Fishtank Team: Andy Begel, Bruce Blumber, Rick Borovoy, Vanessa Colella, Dave Feinberg, Chris Hancock, Brian Silverman, Mike Travers

Design: Nearlife, Inc.




Companies Building Interactives:

Exhibit Advisors:


The Computer Museum News Spring 1998

The Virtual Fish Tank Press Kit 1998

Exhibit Interactive Activites: Build Your Own Fish, Change the Environment, Fish Schooling, Diving Deeper, Termites, Traffic Jam, Turtles, Behavior Labs, Exploring Emergence

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