Murray McKeich (img from Memory Trade)
Troy Innocent: lifeSigns
The main program of Third Iteration was a mix of academic papers and artists’ and technical talks, with disciplines from comp. sci to visual art and music represented. Highlights included Alan Dorin's "Beyond Morphogenesis: Enhancing Synthetic Trees through Death, Decay and the Weasel Test." Anything that messes up the idealised vitalism of generative art is fine with me – but Dorin’s paper also opened up interesting issues about the abstractions used in modelling plants, and what it would take to make your L-system trees wither, die and rot! On a historical angle, Mike Leggett discussed his experiments from the 1970s in what was called formalist film – but which Leggett now recognises as a generative practice (not computational, but based on formal rules and procedures). Also interesting, Tim Kreger & co’s “Time Space Modulator” project is an industrial design / cultural theory / generative art project, to make a physical interface to a complex, generative media database. The prototype device resembles an oversized, rapid-prototyped Rubik’s cube; lots of potential as a rich and intuitive interface / controller.
In the artists’ talks the standouts included UK duo Boredom Research (Vicky Isley & Paul Smith), who among other things presented some great workshops for kids on generative processes (all done with pencil and paper). Melbourne artist and conference chair Troy Innocent presented his lifeSigns work, which continues his interest in a living, iconographic digital language, and his pursuit of “generative meaning systems”. My favourite was from another local, Murray McKeich, who over the past decade has developed a trademark aesthetic of intricate monochrome digital collage, constructed from a massive personal database of scanned found objects. McKeich has recently turned to generative techniques for purely pragmatic reasons, and is now making multi-field, side-scrolling video from the same material. McKeich uses the scripting features of AfterEffects to generate huge populations of compositions, then selects the best for rendering. As I said to anyone who would listen, I’d love to have one running in my house as an ambient display. Or better still, have it generated on the fly by your ridiculously powerful games console…
Next post: forums and wrap up