Social Media Workgroup


City Bright - The Game of Life by The Social Media Workgroup
City Bright - The Game of Life by The Social Media Workgroup

The Game of Life is an interactive light artwork based on mathematician John Conway’s famous computer simulation by the same name. Animated in real time, The Game of Life illustrates properties of cooperative living systems and how complexity can evolve from a simple set of rules. In this artwork, light represents life in a shared system and audiences intervene in this system in order to create or destroy sustainability.

This artwork consists of a grid of 45 large circles of light or ‘pixels’. The pixels animate in a pattern based on the game rules. A pixel will ‘live’ for a generation if several adjacent pixels are alive nearby; it will ‘die’ if there are only a small number of living pixels around it. Visitors can disrupt the game by adding or subtracting pixels in real time using an interactive web app.

Play at



The Social Media Workgroup (SMW) is an interdisciplinary sciart lab based at the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) directed by Professor Andrea Polli, artist and Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media. The Social Media Workgroup investigates the social and ecological impacts of media technology through practice-based research. The group designs and creates projects related to media technology, environment and social change. 


Under Polli’s leadership, The Game of Life is presented by SMW researchers David DiDonato, Brandon Wade and Jared Rendon Trompak, with assistance from STEAM NM Americorps/VISTA Rosemary Morgan.

David DiDonato is completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at UNM after receiving a BFA in Printmaking. He develops custom electronics boards for light installations; he invented the Firefly, a modular device for controlling LED light strips over long distances.

Brandon Wade is a graduate of UNM’s Computer Science department. In addition to programming control for lighting installation, Brandon designs virtual reality worlds and created the VR component of SMW’s GLOWpod.

Jared Rendon-Trompak is a graduate of the UNM IFDM program, and as SMW’s resident videographer, he has created dozens of short documentary films for the group including projects throughout the US, as well as Paris, Germany and Croatia.

Rosemary Morgan joined the Game of Life team through her role as an Americorps/VISTA in Polli’s STEAM NM program which raises capacity for STEAM education in New Mexico. In this position, using her extensive skills in computing and building, Rosemary coordinates the SMW’s lab facility at CARC, the Vislab.

Emily Bartz is a STEAM NM AmeriCorps VISTA from the Philippines, Minnesota, and North Dakota. She is currently a PhD candidate in English Rhetoric at Texas A&M University specializing in adoption studies and feminist digital humanities.

Powered by Addmi
Addmi logo