Rebecca Allen: The Bush Soul

  • ©1998, Rebecca Allen, The Bush Soul
  • ©1998, Rebecca Allen, The Bush Soul



The Bush Soul


SIGGRAPH 1998: Touchware

Creation Year:



Interactive installation with 3D virtual environments


4' x 8'


Installation and Interactive & Monitor-Based

Artist Statement:

The Bush Soul is an interactive art work that explores the role of avatars in a world of artificial life. In a virtual world, the avatar becomes our other body. But what part of “us” is in our avatar?

Certain West Africans believe that a person has more than one soul, and that there is a certain type of soul, called the “bush soul,” that dwells with­in a wild animal of the bush. A per­son’s bush soul resides in an animal, though that animal also has a life of its own.

An avatar can serve as a place for the bush soul, following the guidance of the person attached to it, but “alive” with its own set of behaviors. In this work, every object in the environment, including the avatar, is instilled with some form of artificial life.

Relationships can be formed between all elements. Activities and events emerge depending on relationships and interactions: nonlinear, experimen­tal performances, narratives, and music.

The Bush Soul experiments with forms of communication that rely on symbolic gestures and movements. With a focus on the “life” of the virtual environment, this work examines the role of artificial life and human pres­ence in an art form that includes the interactive experience.

Other Information:

Emergence Team

Loren McQuade

Eitan Mendelowitz

Daniel Shiplacoff

Jino Ok

John Northan

Jack Lin