Mosaic Virus

In Mosaic Virus, Anna Ridler draws historical parallels between tulip-mania, the first financial bubble in 17th century Netherlands and the speculation currently ongoing around crypto-currencies.

The blooming tulips in the piece present a version of Dutch still life paintings, updated for the 21st century by the use of AI. The changing appearance of the tulips is created with a GAN (generative adversarial network) algorithm, trained on a dataset of thousands of tulips photographed by the artist. The AI dreams up possible and impossible forms of the flowers, just as in Dutch still lifes, which combined realism with botanical impossibility.

“Mosaic” is the name of the virus causing the petal mutations which increased the desirability and market value of the bulbs in the tulip speculation of the 17th century. In Mosaic Virus, the rhythm of the mutation is based on the exchange values of the bitcoin, changing over time to show how the market fluctuates.


The project was developed at a residency with Impakt, Utrecht in 2018. It will be presented by m-cult in the Network Effects exhibition at Oodi Helsinki, 17.11.-1.12.2019. The residency and exhibition are realized in context of the European Media Art Network EMAP programme, supported by Creative Europe programme.