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Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
Archive for August, 2005

September is around the corner and so is the annual Ars Electronica festival. The Processing project won the prestigious Golden Nica in the Net Vision category this year, an excellent acknowledgement of several years of hard work on behalf of Mr.Fry and Mr.Reas.

As always there’s a lot of events to catch, like Zachary Lieberman’s performance piece Drawn and the concert evening Listening between the Lines (with visual performances by Erich Berger, Golan Levin and many others). With Processing winning the Net Vision Nica, the Net Vision Forum will be a must.

Hope to see some of you there, I’ll try to blog from the site if time allows.


Via Core77: The product of Danish design brilliance, LEGO has dominated the minds and hearts of children of all ages since its introduction in 1949. And now, they have a nifty Lego CAD app they call LEGO Digital Designer, allowing you to manipulate all the bricks you could ever desire without getting your fingertips sore from handling too many hard plastic pieces.

The LEGO Digital Designer is freely available for download for MacOS and Windows. It allows you to build complex LEGO structures using any number of obscure bricks. When you’re done you can upload it to the LEGO Factory Online Gallery for a shot at those 15 minutes of LEGO fame. The best feature is that you can upload a model and order a custom delivery of all the bricks needed to build it. Handy for those without a storeroom full of spare bricks.

But honestly, doesn’t this just beg to be subverted into some form of art project? Jürg Lehni and the Vectorama boys have already created a LEGO Font Creator, but that only used square bricks.

Meso: VVVV

Meso: VVVV

Sebastian Oschatz is a German media artist and educator with a background in Computer Science. At one point he was a third of the experimental music ensemble Oval, famous for their uncompromising systems-based approach to the creation of sound. Oval did away with instruments and musical structures, pioneering the use of “glitch” sounds and microsamples. In 1995 Oschatz created a series of generative music videos for Oval , using custom software running on a SGI Onyx supercomputer. The group later split up, but documentation of their activities are available from the Oval archive.

Oschatz is one of the founders of the Frankfurt-based media company Meso, established in 1997 to work with experimental media interfaces and interactive installations. Meso works with big name clients like Lufthansa, FIFA and Volkswagen, creating computational exhibition designs.

Meso is also the developer of the visual programming tool VVVV, created originally to run Meso’s own projects. VVVV has since snowballed into a freely available programming environment with a growing fan base. VVVV is well-suited for realtime video synthesis, and gives easy access to a range of control protocols like MIDI, OSC and DMX-512. In general it is an excellent tool for sound-responsive visual performance. See the previous blog entry on VVVV for more details.

In addition to Meso, Oschatz co-founded Involving Systems, a label for interactive audio works. The concept behind Involving Systems is to involve the visitor in the music-making process, exposing it to manipulation through lo-fi interaction devices. A good example is inv.sys.3.1, an “interactive breakbeat entertainment system”. A leitmotif in Oschatz’ work is an interest in a system-based approach to creation and the use of physical interfaces to open the work up to interaction. For some of his own thoughts on the subject, read this interview with frequency magazine.

Sebastian Oschatz will give a presentation at the Generator.x conference. He will also be exhibiting a new piece for the “Code as Material” section of the Generator.x exhibition.

Relevant links:

Mellis & Armstrong: Teaching Turing

Mellis & Armstrong: Teaching Turing

David A. Mellis (in collaboration with Aram Armstrong) has created a wonderful Java applet called Teaching Turing that explains finite state Turing Machines, using a 2D implementation. It walks the user through the basic steps of the machine’s operation (read state, change state, move tape head), and then allows the user to program it herself.

The friendly, pleasant graphics are a definite plus in demystifying the science, but the thing still does what it’s supposed to do. While not as eccentric as the Lego Turing Machine posted earlier this summer, it’s definitely the best implementation I have seen for non-programmers. I wish I knew about this when I was teaching a workshop last week.

Via we make money not art. Wikipedia: Turing Machine.


The Generator.x blog is meant to be a community-driven platform for generative art and design, and so we’re looking for more blog contributors. There’s no requirement for regular posting, an entry or two a month would be great. The aim of the Generator.x project is to examine the role of generative work both in art and the design disciplines, so people from both worlds are welcome.

You don’t have to be an expert coder or art historian, but you should have an interest in and understanding of generative works. You should also be able to write intelligently about what you post. A working understanding of blogs, trackbacks etc. will be useful, but not essential. We follow the old dotcom strategy: Hire for attitude, train for skills.

Authors will be credited with every post, linking back to your own URL. There will also be an author page with author profiles. What you write remains your own property, but as long as it remains on the Generator.x site it is published under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- ShareAlike 2.5 License.

If you’re interested in contributing please send an email to info–at– or use the contact form. If possible, include URLs to your work.


We have now properly licensed the content on Generator.x under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. This applies to the text of the blog only, and allows you to freely use and modify the texts published here for non-commercial use. The requirement is that you attribute text to its original author and that you distribute your derivative works under the same share-alike license.

The graphic look-and-feel of the blog and intellectual property shown here but not owned by Generator.x are not covered by this license, and remain under normal copyright.

Brendan Houle: Coldplay Generator

Brendan Houle: Coldplay Generator

If you’re a fan of the popular UK pop band Coldplay (I’m not), you might enjoy Brendan Houle’s Coldplay X&Y Album Art generator. It’s a Javascript recreation of the code system used for the cover art on their recent "X & Y" album.

The liner notes to the album contain a chart showing how the code was generated, which Houle used as the basis of his Javascript code. If you’re a die-hard fan you can take a screenshot and use it for… whatever.

Aug 29/05
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Live Herring is a Nordic exhibition organized by University of Jyväskylä (Digital Culture, Department of Art and Culture Research). The deadline for submissions is September 30, and the only requirement is that the work submitted must be exhibited via the internet. Open to artists based in or from the Nordic countries only

Ben Gimpert: Holy Shallot

Ben Gimpert: Holy Shallot

Ben Gimpert has posted a project he calls Holy Shallot, a graph of relationships between different food-related components. Ingredients, flavors, styles of cooking and not least emotional aspects of food are investigated. Anchovies and stinky cheese are challenging, whereas bitter-sweet chocolate is closely associated with duck.

I would have expected chili sauce to be related to that most traditional English national dish, the Chicken Curry. Curiously, it seems to hang around with hamburgers instead.

Via Random Etc. has posted 4 new articles, including two observations on the exhibition The Algorithmic Revolution at the ZKM German Center for Art and Media. Søren Pold gives an art historical perspective, with references to the early history of algorithmic art. Emil Bach Sørensen looks at two specific works, SeoulB by Casey Reas and Yellowtail by Golan Levin.

From the ZKM exhibition statement:

A revolution normally lies ahead of us and is heralded with sound and fury. The algorithmic revolution lies behind us and nobody noticed it. That has made it all the more effective – there is no longer any area of social life that has not been touched by algorithms.