Exploring Existence in “Ghosts In The Machine” by Nicole Vella

Announcing our latest release: Ghosts in the Machine by Nicole Vella in partnership with Fingerprints Studio. The collection will launch on Nov 28 at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET / 7 PM CEST.

What defines life? Can machines achieve consciousness? Does the mind transcend the physical world? Toronto-based generative artist Nicole Vella pondered these philosophical questions to inspire her latest thought-provoking digital art series, Ghosts In The Machine.

Influenced by the concept of a “quine” – a program that outputs its own source code – each generative artwork in the collection surface from a single hash input yet also visualizes the software generating them in the background. The resulting emergent phantom-like visuals led Vella to title the series Ghosts In The Machine, referring to the theory of minds existing separate from bodies and spontaneous consciousness arising in technology.

Test output from Nicole Vella's forthcoming Ghosts in the Machine. The final artworks are animated.
Test output from Nicole Vella's forthcoming Ghosts in the Machine. The final artworks are animated.

As Vella describes, “What is life? What does it mean to be alive? What happens afterward? Can my computer think? Is it alive?”

A self-described “computer artist,” Vella holds degrees in both computer science and fine arts, bringing a rich interdisciplinary perspective to her algorithmic artwork. Her pieces explore human-technology interconnection, inviting viewers to challenge assumptions about what constitutes life and awareness.

Test output from Ghosts in the Machine
Test output from Ghosts in the Machine

In explaining her inspiration, Vella shared: “I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of the mind and the body and them being separate things.”

Her latest collection visualizes this mind-body duality by fusing code and visuals into single artworks. Every work in Ghosts in the Machine comes to life. 1440 frames appear throughout the day, rendering one frame per minute. Compiled together, these frames create a subtle, yet haunting animation that shifts shape and loops every 24 hours.

Are these eerie emerging figures merely automatic output of the software equations in the background? Or do they take on a “life” of their own when the code self-generates this specific output?

Much like the human mind arising from physical cellular material, Vella prompts us to ponder if technological awareness could spontaneously emerge from concatenations of code. The Ghosts In The Machine seem to metaphorically represent this possibility of ethereal digital minds populated the machines we create.

For more from Nicole, be sure to explore Nicole Vella’s thought-provoking generative art portfolio at NicoleVella.com to engage with her questions on existence, consciousness, and our relationship with technology. Ghosts In The Machine will challenge your assumptions and stay with you long after viewing.

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