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

So, yeah, went to SIGGRAPH last month, I’ll shut up about it soon, but there was some stuff.

For instance, there was Keynoter George Lucas saying that SIGGRAPH’s work was done, and that he was going to outsource everything. Kinda reminded me of Arthur Danto, but George would be more like the billionaire Arthur Danto who happens to own all the galleries in New York.

For me, the really valuable thing about SIGGRAPH has always been the courses. Most of them are online as PDF’s, though ACM is always happy to charge you to download them.

For instance, the Witkin/Barr/Baraff tutorial is the best intro to particle systems I know of.

This year, here’s a few that intrigued:

Computational Photography had some interesting things to say about where digital imaging hardware is going.

Line Drawings From 3D Models gives lovely bibliography and introduces non-photorealistic rendering concepts.

Recent Advances in Haptic Rendering — that’s force-feedback to you and me. Someday…

Others I’ll let you google:
There are always programming tutorials:
An Interactive Introduction to OpenGL Programming
GPU Shading and Rendering

There are always five year’s worth of math tutorials:
Visualizing Quaternions
Discrete Differential Geometry: An Applied Introduction
Introduction to Articulated Rigid Body Dynamics
Man, if only I had two brains..

Groovy shit to do with game engines:
Thalmann’s Crowd and Group Animation


Software is engaged in the survival of the loopest. Each version of a script when first executed can turn out to be a Wild Type: a piece of code testing some parameter or behaviour of the system not meant to be tested by the programmer at that time. Mostly the Wild Type is on a runtime suicide mission but sometimes it hits the jackpot. Certain flaws, getting stuck in bottomless recursion for instance, prevents the user from terminating the program. Were it not for the ability of the user to jump outside the application’s loop and terminate it from there, a script fortunate enough to hit such a state becomes immortal.

Complete Text

Sep 27/05

There seems to have been either a hacking attack, bug or worse, a feature, on the blog this afternoon, causing a fair amount of content to be deleted. Fortunately, I have most of the content offline, but some images that were uploaded to the blog have disappeared.

Blog authors, if you know one of yours is gone please re-upload it. We’re working with our ISP to figure out what the cause is. I’ve backed up the database just in case, and also disabled the shoutbox since it’s been the consistent target of some dubious activity.


The Generator.x conference and concert event are now at an end. The conference was nearly sold out, and the evening event was well-attended. We wish to thank all the artists, the audience and not least the staff for making this event possible.

I will post a summary of day 2 tomorrow, for now you can look at Generator.x photos on Flickr.


Timo Arnell from the Architecture School of Oslo has posted some photos from Generator.x on Flickr. If you have pictures of your own, please post them, tag them with “generator.x” and let us know. (I have some, but I can’t download them because my battery is low..)

Screen from the LetterKnitter script at NodeBox

Tom De Smedt & Frederik De Bleser: NodeBox

Fredrik De Bleser just emailed to say that we had miscredited Just van Rossum as the author of the NodeBox project, when in fact it was created by him and Tom De Smedt. As he says:

While NodeBox is a fork of Just’s DrawBot, it is a different program, focusing more on an easy-to-use command set, generative animation and design research.

We apologize for the misaccreditation and already corrected the post. Although it was written by Boris, it was actually I who inserted the Just van Rossum credit. Mea culpa.


Day 1 of the Generator.x conference went without a hitch, featuring a good presentation of theoretical perspectives on generative art. Susanne Jaschko spoke of the experience of the sublime in art, often described as the feeling of being overwhelmed the infinity of space. In this connection, she juxtaposed Goya’s The Colossus with Casey Reas’ MicroImage and spoke about how they both contain a sense of the sublime. She also tried to place generative art in the context of retinal or non-retinal conceptions of art. Erich Berger spoke about the theories behind his performance work, taking his work Tempest as a starting point. As a software-based performer he feels that he is surfing the space of possibilities inherent in the algorithms he uses.

After lunch, the session of shorter presentations had the Spoon collective from Prague struggling to explain their idea of “humanizing” the computer. In the same session Even Westwang presented the work Nomen Nominandum, where a virtual creature inhabits the local area network of a public school in Norway, growing and dying over the course of 3 years. Meredith Hoy spole about historical rule-based models of perception, and like Susanne before her she picked up on the sublime, expanding it to a theory of the sublime that includes the temporal dimension.

Against this solid background, Casey Reas' presentation put pictures to the theory. And beautiful pictures they were. As always, Casey performed with ease, showing the progression in his work over the last 5 years, including his use of Braitenberg vehicles.. He was followed by Gisle Fr√łysland, director of visual arts at BEK. He spoke about the importance of FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source Software) and presented BEK’s Piksel festival, a yearly event gathering Open Source developers of live video applications.

Amanda Steggell of Motherboard brought a performative strategy to the panel summing up the day. Asking difficult questions, she managed to spark a lively debate. Aesthetics came up as a contentious issue, following up on Susanne’s earlier distinctions of retinal and non-retinal. Interestingly, Casey Reas explained that he is uncomfortable with the term “generative” as used to describe his work, since he feels that implies that he is not present in the work as an active force. Provoked by Amanda, he declared that he is not at all interested in automation.

Sep 23/05
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Generator.x is now underway, with Susanne Jaschko giving the introductory lecture to a full hall. She is giving a presentation on historical references and models for understanding generative art and design.

Sep 22/05
Generative Poetry from oekandana

Name: oekandana

A large number of generative poems can be found at oekandana. The poems are all generated by a software called Flowerewolf which is based on NodeBox. I am not quite sure if it is a hoax but the results are sometimes quite surprising…


Jon McCormack: Turbulence

Last year the Australian Centre for the Moving Image published a book detailing the work of generative and artificial life artist/researcher Jon McCormack, whose work turbulence ten years ago in 1995 resembles some of the more recent generative experiments.

While Jon was probably more philosophically concerned with artificial biologies than generative processes per se, this recent book features a chapter written by the artist titled “Art, Emergence and the Computational Sublime”, which seems an apt description for many of the generative artworks seen on this blog and elsewhere. The notion of the sublime is one that has long been debated in aesthetic theories, and could prove useful in discussions of new media works. A quote from the blurb states:

What would life be like if it were made from computer algorithms rather than flesh and blood?