Generative Art

Curated by David Faller
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While generative art is widely considered a genre of art, it is not strictly a genre as other types of art are. Generative art is more concerned with the process of its own creation rather than the reason for its creation, outcome of the work, its content or its underlying meanings. While landscape art is primarily founded in the depiction of scenery in a style chosen by the artist, generative art has neither a style nor a specific subject, and can potentially be applied to create artwork that can fall under the umbrella of any other genre of art. Further investigation into the true nature of generative art as a genre and process will be explored.<br> <br> The process in which generative art is created is broadly open ended, but can be fairly easily summarized and defined. The production of generative art, as defined by Philip Galanter, is the practice of art making wherein "the artist creates a process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is then set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art." <a href="http://www.generative.net/read/definitions"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> The constraints of rules applied to the art making process are essential to the idea and creation of generative art. While less pivotal, the concept of autonomous art creation is also important. Once the constraints and rules of a system are laid out an initial input is given which begins the process of autonomous creation wherein generative art will then effectively create itself. In many cases, the user input or initially supplied input given to the rules will ultimately change the outcome of work, allowing generative artists to create essentially infinite permutations of images. Generative art thereby manifests a system based largely on the combination of strict order and disorder to varying degrees of complexity in order to create works.<br> <br> As generative art has only somewhat recently begun to gain relatively widespread attention as a potential method of art making, its history is characteristically hard to follow. In centuries past, many pieces of art and art movements can potentially be loosely classified as generative art, working and creating within the confines of certain rules. Generally speaking, however, most of these works do not strictly fall under the category of generative art for a number of reasons including the consideration that most of these works were not created with the generative process in mind. Within our contemporary art world, generative art finds use in a few different art making environments, including the generation of electronic music, computer graphics and animation, and industrial design. <a href="http://www.philipgalanter.com/downloads/ga2003\_paper.pdf"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> Within the confines of these settings, the generative art process is used to create vastly complex and often on-going works that continue to manifest themselves without further input from the creator. In many cases, the initial setup of the piece is much less complex than the potential output of the system, allowing prolific works to be created very efficiently and simply.<br> <br> <center> <img src="http://i8.tinypic.com/4znxnc5.jpg"> </center> <br> The first work within the exhibit is <a href="http://www.glyfconstruct.com">glyf: construct<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, a piece by Duncan Holby. The work consists of 6 sets of constructs, each set having a specific topic that it explores in relation to the work as a whole. The piece’s purpose is described on its Rhizome page as, "glyf: construct explore[s] visual dynamics that are made accessible through code: scale, sequence, repetition, displacement, math based color sets, linear and angular motion, the variable of user input." <a href="http://rhizome.org/object.php?47093"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> Most of the construct sets within glyf: construct share many of the same rules and inputs to then generate their results in real-time. Frequently, the user has two modes of input to change the outcomes of the works - one is to move the cursor around the screen (in <a href="http://www.glyfconstruct.com/phasing3.swf">phaSing .v3<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, the user’s mouse position modifies the angle and skew of the shapes on screen, much like it modifies the length of the lines in <a href="http://www.glyfconstruct.com/geom0.swf">ge(o)m .v0<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>), the second is to click and hold the left mouse button, which changes the spatial arrangement of the displayed objects (again, in <a href="http://www.glyfconstruct.com/phasing3.swf">phaSing .v3<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, clicking the mouse rotates the circle objects at varying speeds according to their places in the grid). The combination of these user inputs with the grid confinements of the objects creates a nearly infinite store of different images that can be generated using the constructs.<br> <br> <center> <img src="http://i3.tinypic.com/4tattnn.jpg"> </center> <br> The second exhibited work is Miika Nyyssonen’s <a href="http://www.miikanyyssonen.com/mantta01.htm">rally<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>. Rally begins as a grid of randomly colored blocks, which progressively becomes all one single color. The process in which this happens is thus: "one of the colors replaces the color of randomly chosen square, that color is removed from the array of possible colors"<a href="http://www.miikanyyssonen.com/rally.htm"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> - eventually, after an astounding number of permutations, one of the colors dominates the grid. The work was created as a visual representation of a situation where probability slowly replaces randomness. Rather than a user-given input, the work is preprogrammed to create a random initial input which is then processed by its complex set of rules that leads to the final, single color work. In terms of generative art, rally truly fulfills the basic requirements in addition to being fully autonomous in its creation of images.<br> <br> <center> <img src="http://i13.tinypic.com/4xy52qe.jpg"> </center> <br> Next is <a href="http://www.stanick.com/indexsl.html">Return of Silent Radio<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, a piece by Peter Stanick. Return of Silent Radio is a continuously generated animation which creates new composite images based on a large library of pre-selected imagery. The work's input consists of randomly selected imagery which is then placed according to certain rules within a composition which is quickly compiled. According to Stanick, Return of Silent Radio has the current capability to create over 3 million unique compositions based on its image library. <a href="http://www.stanick.com/indexsl.html"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> While conceptually simple, Return of Silent Radio’s compilation abilities can create some stunning and interesting composite images. Discussed at <a href="http://www.coolstop.com">coolstop.com<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, Stanick’s work is reviewed as, "watching [pop] culture … unfold before your eyes" <a href="http://www.coolstop.com/site\_reviews/0507/"><img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> - an interesting concept in terms of generative art - the use of previous art imagery, put through a generative art process such as Stanick’s in order to create millions of new post-modern pieces. This piece simply depicts the ease in which generative art process can be applied to work for many different art genres. <br> <br> <center> <img src="http://i13.tinypic.com/4qoo60w.jpg"> </center> <br> Next is Eva Schindling and Daniel Wilson’s piece, <a href="http://dnf.evsc.net/">Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow (1963)<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>. The work consists physically of a large skewed trapezoidal grid of rotating magnetic arms. The generative aspect of the work is seen in the input of the user, who is able to manipulate a rotating arm, which then affects those around it based on the magnets in the arms, cascading into a large scale manipulation of the grid. The rules of the work operate around the controlled locations of the grid and manner in which the magnetic forces of the arms can interact with each other. The piece is named after a 1963 paper written by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward\_Lorenz">Edward Lorenz<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>, the man who coined the term "butterfly effect." Directly related to this is the concept driving the piece, which dictates that the random-input generative system it consists of reflects life and the ultimate impossibility of predicting the entire outcome of our actions. Conceptually, the work nearly defines generative art in its unwieldy, random progression and infinite potential for creation. Video of Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow (1963) can be found featured at <a href="http://futurefeeder.com/index.php/archives/2006/09/26/deterministic-nonperiodic-flow/">futurefeeder.com<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> and discussed in the <a href="http://www.monochrom.at/english/2007/07/deterministic-nonperiodic-flow-1963.htm">monochrom.at<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a> blog. <br> <br> <center> <img src="http://i12.tinypic.com/4z3rsbl.jpg"> </center> <br> The last work of the exhibition is Paul Robert’s <a href="http://paulrobert.ca/eversince/">Ever Since<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>. Ever Since is a sort of counting display, however, rather than numbers counting along, letters progress onwards. The rule system of the work dictates that every second, the leftmost “digit” of the display will alphabetically advance one letter, thereby, on an infinite timeline, creating every word, phrase or literary work within the English language. With an initial input date of 13.7 billion years ago (the hypothesized birth of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe">universe<img src="http://webfiles.colorado.edu/fallerd/link.jpg" border="0"></a>), the counter has progressed 13 digit places to date, covering a large majority of existing single words and short phrases. The work’s theoretically infinitely autonomous nature is particularly interesting, when all human life on earth will have potentially expired; this work may still be plodding along generating English language phrases that have long since passed from use. Creating truly infinite scenarios, this piece characterizes the simplicity in which a generative artwork can be set up to create an infinite and infinitely complex body of new works. <br><br> A list of links to the Rhizome documentation pages of each work of art displayed within the exhibition is as follows:


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