Ecological systems are experiencing a period of unprecedented rapid change. To decide how to manage them appropriately, we need the ability to predict how they will respond to human interventions. Simulations have been used in ecology for 40 years and are increasingly being used in contexts such as ecosystem restoration and agro-chemical risk management. Communication of complex models is needed to help incorporate scientific evidence into environmental decisionmaking. The CGI Animation Artificial Life visualizes a simulation of natural evolution and reflects on perfect visual illusions in the age of digital imagery.