Generative Arts & Literature: an overview Linda Lai Spring 2008

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  • Generative Arts & Literature:an overview

    Linda LaiSpring 2008

  • (from last weeks games)ProcessualityProceduralismSpatial approach to cognition system / labyrinth

    New cognitionRetrieval

  • (from last weeks games)Processuality / Proceduralism / Spatial approach to cognitionSelf-generated systemLabyrinthSelf-organization, self-generation combinatorial / permutationseries formationalgorithmRule-drivenness

    Simplicity complexityMorphological process


  • GENERATIVE ART20th-century artists concern to provide design solution how to create new methods of composition that is capable of the infinitethe role of automatismtowards the machinicNew creative impulse in 20th-century art discovery / surprise > realization / significationchance operation > conception

    Processuality / Proceduralism / Spatial approach to cognitionSelf-generated systemLabyrinthSelf-organization, self-generation combinatorial / permutation

    Simplicity complexityMorphological process

  • I.Generative Art & Literature asModern & Contemporary Art

  • Questions raised by Modernist art practices(Modernism ) Mimetic functions of art Representation/signification value Expressive quality Exploration of concepts Consideration of the tool and its uniqueness (Medium-specificity) Event / performative emphasis Emphasis on structure Design quality of work / art work as a design Rule-driven creativity: process & discovery

  • Generative ArtSelf multiplicationSelf organization

    Single unit complex systemSimplicity complexityRule applicationCombinatorial / permutation / algorithm / emergence

  • Generative Art: an initial case for reviewGego (German born female artist residing in Venezuela)

    Lines planes objects environment

    Triangles Squares Spheres

    Triangles into netsTriangles forming circular planesTriangles into cylinders and tubular structuresTriangles forming spheresSquares into sheetsSquares into netsSquare as frames

  • Generative Art: an initial case for reviewGego (German born female artist residing in Venezuela)


    I still dislike the word sculpture. They are not sculptures. (referring to her works)

    Dictionary definitions, she pointed out, describe sculpture as any assembled objects.She felt such a definition does not sufficiently cover her works mainly jointed pieces and structures.Her intention was not only form and volume, but transparent structure.***She emphasizes she never made sketches of her work

  • II.Generative Art/Generative Systems:visual arts, literature & (computer-)automated art

  • What is Generative Art?

    Generative Art performs the idea as process.

  • What is Generative Art?

    Generative Art performs the idea as process.

    Rules as constraint produce a somewhat automatic process.Rules are used to ensure the next possible step forward.GA begs the question of whats possible & what is virtual

  • What is Generative Art?

    Generative Art performs the idea as process.Rules as constraint produce a somewhat automatic process.Rules are used to ensure the next possible step forward.

    The intricacies of a GA work often lie in the rational relation between each two steps + the leaps-and-bounds differences at the end of a sequence of operations.

  • Generative Art?To generate = to produce, to bring into existence, to bring forward, to present to view or notice

    Generative =capable of producingGenerative procedural, serialist

  • Generative Systems?

    a system capable of functioning with generative forces

    a system that imposes a structure on something that is very lively, viable and fluid

  • Generators

    a unit (part) of the system that is capable of generating (producing) more units

  • Generators

    What does it mean to say that something is (serves the functions of) a generator?

    e.g.:when is an apple just an apple? when is an apple a generator?

  • GeneratorsA generator can be thought of as a unit capable of producingAnything can become a generator when

    *it is turned into a principle for more productive activities

    *it is studied for its ability to push forward the production of the next possible members

  • Apple as a generatorOn linguistic level?As Chinese charactersAs a set of alphabets that form the word apple in EnglishAs a signifier (the name) of a fruitAs a metaphor/symbolismOn graphic/visual level?As a round objectAs a red objectAs an object with a stalkAs

  • Apple as a generator: divergent approach

    Case study:Archaeology of the Apple

  • Exploration of concepts A line as a generator

  • A set of line as a generator

    Jared Tarbells digitization of Bridget Rileys works

  • Generators

    Generators can beA key wordAn objectA nameA graphic element (point, line, shape etc.)A fragment of a storyA narrativeA dramatic structure.

  • Generators

    Generators can be


  • THREE phases of procedural evolvement towards a complex system[1st phase:] Design of structuring device: rules +procedures

    [2nd phase:]Spatial extension + establishment of networks

    [3rd phase:]Genetic code of artificial units

  • rules + procedurescreator/artist reader/userRules

    something to be acquired/learned(by the users/receivers/participants)

    Something enabling(allowing more complex tasks to be carried out)

  • rules + procedures


    Based on sources that are outside of the work itself

  • rules + procedures

    Rules map out procedures

    e.g. Serial methods

  • extension + networksExchange of languages (esp. between visual art and literature) Visual and linguistic elements are turned into generators of a conscious and reflexive creative process

    Practice of collaboration

  • artificial objectsCelestino Soddu:A generative project is a concept-software that works producing three-dimensional unique and non-repeatable events as possible and manifold expressions of the generating idea identified by the designer as a visionary world.

    [see introduction to the Generative Art Conferences]

  • artificial objectsKEY emphases in Soddus quote:

    What is possible (as opposed to what is actual): -possible worlds, possible space, possible vision...-work is the designers visionary world-calls attention to the amazing, endless expansion of human creativity

  • artificial objectsKEY emphases in Soddus quote:

    (2) Design + Non-repeatable/unpredictable events design: carefully planned structurenon-repeatable/unpredictable events: enhanced degree of complexity due to the use of the computer.

  • artificial objectsKEY emphases in Soddus quote:

    (3) The basic characteristics of computer as tools for storage in memory AND automated executive of tasks are turned into the core creative factors.

  • artificial objectsIn all cases,

    Theres a shift of emphasis from more humanistic input in the creative process to the act of conception, leading to the design of rules and procedures

  • artificial objectsGenerative art brings back the human creativity that computer had killed in the beginning of the computer era:

    Computers becometools that open new fields and enhance our understanding of creativity as an indissoluble synthesis between art and science.

  • Generative Visual ArtsTWO kinds of generative systems in 20th-C art history (Diane Kirkpatrick):

    Close generative systems:[e.g. conceptual art] in each work a closed analytic structure is set up which becomes a generator for exploration

  • Generative Visual ArtsTWO kinds of generative systems in 20th-C art history (Diane Kirkpatrick):(2) Organic generative systems:

    A work begins with creating one word or idea and uses that to generate the next, and the next and so on(creating generators)

  • Generative Visual Arts: work examplesJosef Albers:(1) Homage to Square series (1950s)

    Frank Stella:(2) Protractor Series (93 paintings based on 31 canvas formats each with 3 compositional types)

    Sol LeWitt:(3) Squares with Corners Torn off (1975) X(4) Modular Open Cube

  • Generative Visual Arts: work examplesDorothea Rockburne:

    (5) Set (1970) inspiration from Mathematics(6) Radiant and Fields (1971) concept of units becoming more complex X(7) Drawing That Makes Itself (1973) XJennifer Bartlett:(8) Rhapsody (1975-76)

  • Generative Visual Arts: work examplesDoug Huebler:

    (9) Duration Piece No. 6 (NY, 4/1969) photo series X(10) Location Piece No. 6 (1970) X(11) Duration Piece No. 7(12) Location Pieces No. 7

  • Generative Visual Arts: work examplesSonia Sheridan:

    (13) mono-prints series based on one image (1963-64)(14) Unwind the Wheel of Time (1979) eight drawings X

  • II

    Processes & Procedures:Conceptual Structured

  • Algorithms: procedures in computingAlgorithm is the systematic procedures that computer science adopts to final correct solution to complex problems.

    Algorithm is a procedure for solving a problem in terms of:

    1) the actions to execute2) the order in which these actions execute

  • Setting workable procedures

    Generative principles the technical procedures

    Sorting out solutions for a problem doing the actual scripting with a certain programming language

  • Algorithms: actions in orderrise-and-shine algorithm[source: H.M. Deitel & P.J. D