World Engines Lab

with Delta_Ark Studios

The World Engines Lab at Gray Area, initiated by Delta_Ark Studios, leverages emerging artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning, and simulation capabilities to create new platforms for simulated ecosystems to support artistic inquiry and interdisciplinary research.

At the lab, we design a spectrum of worlds that bring humans, virtual agents, and simulated natural systems into relation with each other, in order to investigate the different ways they co-adapt, co-regulate, and co-evolve. As these processes unfold, we build games, animations, live performances and sculptures out of (and from inside) those worlds.

The Lab anticipates a future where intelligent, strategic, and social agents animate our digital spaces. Virtual landscapes and the inhabitants we populate them with—ranging from familiar entities to speculative agents beyond current comprehension—serve as dynamic settings for artistic, scientific, and ecological inquiry. We are pioneering efforts to make this transformative shift more accessible to the other artists and researchers. These platforms will be made available for the public as open source that can be freely used and adapted.


Alongside building worlds using these new technologies, the lab engages in the upstream research required to integrate otherwise difficult-to-combine tools. We work to develop new pipelines for bridging AI and simulation that can then be used by the wider artistic community, alongside bug fixes and other back-end facilitation work which at present impedes artistic engagement. An initial phase of integrating deep reinforcement learning with Unreal Engine 5 is already ongoing as a pilot for this work.

By facilitating artists to engage in advanced forms of technical R&D, our contributions can impact and steward mainline technological development through prototypes and proofs-of-concept governed by alternative values. Different aspects of this work are already being executed within academia and industry. But by initiating this project within Gray Area, we aim to critically examine values encoded in such technologies, testing new and alternative value sets grounded in relational and ecological thinking.

Research Strands

Our research initiatives are split into strands, each of which are focused around the latest developments in AI for simulation. We see these initiatives fusing together to create a modular and cutting edge system for speculative ecosystem generation that will be fully accessible to both the public and artistic communities as a toolkit:

-Ethereal Constructs-

Delving into 3D-AI for world construction.

-Light & Language-

Focuses on embodied language models, fostering more natural interactions between humans and AI.

-Refractive Engine-

Investigates deep reinforcement learning and action models that exhibit emergent behaviors in order to make worlds more dynamic.

Background and Roadmap

The lab is a collaboration between Delta_Ark Studios (Ari KalinowskI) and Gray Area, bringing 15+ years of experience in applied AI and ecological arts projects, research and public programming. The lab will unfold in five phases:

1. Basic R&D and systems set-up.
2. Release of lab based art projects.
3. Invitations to artists, designers, and technologists to use the system.

4. Invitation to AI scientists and ecologists to ask specific questions of the system, and shape its future development and
5. Broad release of all attendant projects and research to the public, through a series of exhibitions, workshops and presentations.

About Delta_Ark Studios

Ari Kalinowski

Delta_Ark (Ari Kalinowski)

Delta_Ark is an experimental atelier that explores climate change, artificial intelligence and belief; philosophically, the studio is committed to refining and developing an ideology of ecological transhumanism with queer Jewish flavoring. Delta_Ark's previous works are embodied in games (Gevurah, Hod/Yesod/Tiferet, Malkuth/Netzach/Chesed, Binah), audio-visual sets (Novascene Hekhalot), architectural research (sketchbook, swarm based construction, 3DML architecture, wave function collapse city) and applied artificial intelligence (reinforcement learning, geo-based natural language generation). Also formerly in large scale projections in pavilions (The Beacon, Core, Islands/Accidents, Dreamcatcher, Archive of the Ecological Future, Light Atlas). Delta_Ark's collaborators have been Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Audio Visual Club SF, The Ruby, Autodesk, Noisebridge, The Letterform Archive, Syzygy SF, Double Union, New Art City, Occupy, Biome Arts, Mary Mattingly, Digital Language Arts at Brown, Digital + Art at RISD, The Anti Eviction Mapping Project, B4BEL4B Gallery, CODAME, Eyebeam, and Buzzfeed.

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