Haig Armen Educational Archive


Generative Art

by Haig. Average Reading Time: almost 2 minutes.

The term originated in a paper by Philip Galanter, artist and professor at Texas A&M University, he wrote “Generative art refers to any art practice where the artist uses a system, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art”.

To be even more specific, as Matt Pearson, author of the fabulous book “Generative Art” said “With generative art, the autonomous system does all the heavy lifting; the artist only provides the instructions to the system and the initial conditions. The artist’s role in the production process may be closer to that of a curator than a creator. You create a system, model it, nurture it, and refine it, but ultimately your ownership of the work produced may be no more than a parent’s pride in the work of their offspring.”

Additionally Clive Thompson outlines in his book “Smarter Than You Think” that there is a new hybrid model of collaboration where human and machine work together. Thompson describes how a new generation of chess players have emerged in the past decade that use simple laptop to do the difficult predictive analysis but use their human intuition to be far more effective than their human or computer opponents.

It is this hybrid approach that we’re aiming for in this Generative Art course, where an artist creates a set of instructions (a program) that will by itself or with some human interaction generate a number of different art pieces and the artist can choose the best that have been output.

Finally, as Pearson puts it “The artist creates ground rules and formulae, usually including random or semi-random elements, and then kicks off an autonomous process to create the artwork. The system can’t be entirely under the control of the artist, or the only generative element is the artist herself. The second hard-and-fast rule therefore is there must be a degree of unpredictability. It must be possible for the artist to be as surprised by the outcome as anyone else.”

To achieve Generative Art we’ll need to learn about Object Oriented Programming (OOP).

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