Creativity Bytes: A Brief Guide to Generative Art
Here’s a quick reference guide that will seek to explain the trends, terms, and movements of the brave new media world of art and technology. So you can skim, digest, and be a pseudo-expert next time you’re cornered at a Speed Show exhibition in your local cybercafe. Because, hey, life is short and art long. First up: Generative Art.
So, what is generative art?
Generative art is a term used to describe art created (or generated) using a system. In other words, it’s constructed using a set of rules and instructions that be communicated via computer software, mathematical equations, mechanics, language or any self-contained autonomous process. Generative art can take the form of music, image, video, and even physical objects.
Where did it come from?
If you want to sound like you’re in the know, bandy about names like Sol LeWitt and Desmond Paul Henry. You can reference Henry’s drawing machines and how they generated delicate line drawings way back in the 1960s, or you could take it back another century or two and point out that Mozart was playing with generative techniques back in 1757 with his Musical Dice Game. But if you really want to impress and assert your artistic erudition, proclaim that the earliest proponent of generative forms was the grandaddy (well, mommy) of morphogenesis…Mother Nature herself, with evolution.
So you’ve got that house party to attend, which’ll be full of local digital artists and you want to impress. No problem. You just got back from Frankfurt where you attended NODE10 and sat in on a vvvv workshop with the founders. On the flight back you started reading Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture by Casey Reas and Chandler McWilliams. Remark that it’s a wonderful read, but barely scratches the surface.
Describe Yourself As…
If John Cage knew how to code.
Quote from a famous practitioner:
“Any art practice where the artist creates a process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other mechanism, which is then set to motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a complete work of art.” – Philip Galanter. In other words, art made by a process independent of the artist.
If It Were A Kid’s Toy
Geometric, data, automation.
Divide by zero.
To recap: Coders are the new creators, so don’t be surprised if your IT department wins an Oscar for a film made using the algorithms of the office payroll to express the glass ceiling of despair in random cluster fractals. If you really want to confound, talk to people about a new generative motion 3D video game opera you’ve been working on with a libretto sung in binary using a hacked Microsoft Kinect.
Next week: Data Visualization