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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 March, 2006
Kunstmuseet Kube

Ålesund: Kunstmuseet Kube

Generator.x, 1.4 – 14.5 2006
Kunstmuseet Kube, Ålesund, Norway

The Generator.x exhibition will open this weekend at Kunstmuseet Kube in Ålesund, on the West Coast of Norway. This is the third stop on the tour, after previous shows in Oslo and Stavanger.

Interestingly, there will be a big LAN party called Exotic-LAN 2006 in Ålesund 13-16 April. As usual, there will be competitions and the winners will be shown at Kunstmuseet Kube. Hopefully some of the coder kids from the LAN party will take the trip to the gallery, after all there is a certain overlap between the demo scene and generative art.

For more information on Ålesund, see or find photos of Ålesund on Flickr. As they say it’s in the middle of “Fjord Norway”, with a unique Art Nouveau architecture that is a result of a fire that consumed most of the town in 1904.


Pixelache 2006 in Helsinki will feature a seminar on art in a mobile context, supported by Nokia’s Connect To Art project and Sulake, developers of the famous Habbo Hotel.

Pixelache 2006 Mobile Arts and Experiments Seminar
Thursday 30 March, 1-5 pm, Kiasma seminar room

More information at:

Featuring presentations from Sampo Karjalainen / Sulake, Atau Tanaka / Sony CSL Paris, Antye Greie + Sue Costabile / Minimovies and many others..

Participation fee is 250 euros. There are a few places reserved for artists / students / researchers without a participation fee.

Signing up and more information: send e-mail to latest tomorrow Wed 29 March!

The seminar is supported by Nokia Connect to Art and Sulake.

The program looks interesting, even if it looks a bit thin on the use of mobile devices as a computational platform. The delivery of video and sound over mobile networks is of course intriguing, but hardly revolutionary. Sulake’s presentation on “mobile virtual worlds” looks to be the exception.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Pixelache 2006 Helsinki program.


Paul over at dataisnature has just written an interesting post about procedural drawing, in part following up on the post here about Matthew Lewis Sketch piece. He mentions some interesting artists working with traditional drawing in a procedural manner:

Be sure to read Paul's observations about this work.


Soda was one of the original interaction design companies that really walked the walk. Instead of talking about the future, they were making it all the way back in 1996. Originally focused on technology and art with more than a slight architectural interest, they created a number of installations exploring robotics and unconventional interfaces. See 2743, Corrupted Nature and C20 Screen for examples of this activity.

More recently, Soda’s Journey presents the viewer with an oh-so-subtle journey through artworks owned by the National Art Collections Fund. An advanced algorithm identifies similar structures in two different images, so that zooming in on a small area of the first image gradually reveals the second. The result is a hypnotic never-ending fractal zoom. When Casson Mann Designers were asked to create an exhibit on Energy for the Science Museum, they worked with Soda to develop the concept and behaviour of the 40 meter long LED screen that is the Energy Ring (see the video).

Soda’s biggest claim to fame is without doubt the SodaConstructor. Launched in 2000 as a personal experiment (Ed Burton wanted to learn Java), it quickly exploded and within months was receiving more than a quarter of a million visits per week. Since then, several improved versions have been launched and the SodaConstructor community has grown immensely. Some very exciting SodaConstructor projects are in the pipeline, more about that in a separate post.

Pure resarch is central to Soda. Alongside commercial work they have received and worked on numerous research grants. Their research is then fed back into the commercial work, or made available to the design and engineering communities. SodaConstructor and Moovl have received considerable interest and support from NESTA, with exciting future developments still to come. These tools have then been used in schools from kids at primary level up to engineering graduates.

Soda’s work is analytical, minimal and of high technical quality. Their projects always retain a purity of form and function, without unnecessary showiness or designer flourishes. Instead of scoring points for trendiness, Soda’s work is the real deal. Producing a high-quality mix of science, design and art projects that actually work, they remain a leading light in an interaction design industry filled with funky demos and non-functional prototypes.

Jürg Lehni: Hektor videos

Jürg Lehni: Hektor videos (”Robotergestützter Graffitikurs”, Berlin)

Jürg Lehni has finally posted videos of his Hektor robot in action. You can enjoy watching Hektor give a "Robotergestützter Graffitikurs" (robot-assisted graffiti course), recreating patterns by William Morris and drawing landscapes.

For more information about Hektor the Graffiti Output Device, see There is also a small tantalizing tidbit about Hektor’s sibling Rita, the Whiteboard Drawing Device, but still not a lot of details.


Tom Moody has an interesting blog entry about sales of DVDs as art objects. Essentially, he’s quoting another post by Paul Slocum (the guy who made the dot_matrix_synth) about sales of DVDs from a recent show.

Paul Slocum writes:

With our first show at And/Or I was really surpised to learn that video does sometimes sell — we sold both of Tom’s videos.

I didn’t really expect the video pieces to sell, so I had to scramble to figure out archiving issues with DVDs. For most artists that we would show, getting a DVD produced would be cost prohibitive, so everything’s going to end up being a DVD-R. And how long these will last is unknown. I’ve read that playing burned media reduces its lifetime. I’m not sure this is true, but if it is, DVD-Rs repeating over and over in a collectors home could have short lifespans. And using the wrong kind of marker could reduce its life. Or a minor scratch.

Rather than go to great lengths to test DVD-Rs and research all the details of archiving, I’ve decided to take a “fair use” approach instead. First of all, I archive all DVDs that we sell via ISO images. If the collector’s DVD fails, then the we can replace the DVD. But as a secondary backup, I burn those ISO images onto a CD-ROM that comes with the purchase, and suggest that the buyer copy this data to their own computer and keep it safe. It seems a bit much to instruct the collector on how to rip a DVD and burn a copy, but if they have the ISO image it’s easy to burn a copy. Maybe this all seems like a little much, but I guess it’s the role of the gallery to figure out this kind of stuff.

Read Tom's post and the comments for more background info. His point about both the artist and the buyer having the means of (re)production is particularly relevant.

These are essential issues for anyone who wants to be able to sell their work in a gallery context, whether as software in executable form or pre-rendered video in DVD format. The classic issue of limited edition runs of something which is infinitely reproducable also comes up. Some video artists sell tapes or DVDs with a contract that guarantees the buyer that the artist will make new copies available if the storage medium should fail. C.E.B. Reas sells his Process pieces as uniques, complete with the computer hardware to run them.

If anyone has more real-world examples of how artists and galleries are dealing with these issues, any input would be most welcome.

Update: Paul Slocum has posted a tip about using Taiyo Yuden pro-quality storage media. Of course, I’m now completely paranoid about the safety of my backups…

Mar 19/06
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Update: The Rhizome Commissions call has been extended until 7 April.

Two call for proposals:

Rhizome Commissions Program: 2006-2007. Rhizome is pleased to announce that [..] between eight and eleven new Internet art projects will be commissioned in 2006. [..] The fee for each commission will range from $900 – $3,000.

Artists are invited to submit proposals for new works of Internet-based art. There is no required theme. The works can manifest offline, as long as the Internet is a primary vehicle in the creation of the work, and the final work is accessible online, whether through a web browser, software, or some other use of internet technologies.
Deadline: 1 April 2006

enter. explorations in new technology art is the Arts Council England East’s strategy for performance work encompassing new technologies. enter invites national and international artists to submit proposals for three commissions that consider live interaction with audience and space. [..] BUDGET £15,000 for each commission (including artist fee, material & production costs, installation & documentation)
Deadline: 1 June 2006

I am posting calls for proposals here on an experimental basis, and would like feedback on whether this is of interest to Generator.x readers. Calls posted will be relevant to the scope of this blog, and should comprise a low volume of posts. But if readers don’t find them useful I won’t continue to post them.


Once a Mathematician always an Artist is a recent article posted at on Andy Lomas’ artwork “Aggregation” which has been displayed at several art galleries around the world this past year. Lomas was a CGI Supervisor at ESC for Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions when he researched simulation of growth processes for use in visual effects for the films. He wanted to create an organic look and feel to the black “goo” surrounding the victims faces upon being punched by Mr. Smith. The mathematical rules used for Aggregation is inspired by a base algorithm called “diffusion limited aggregation” – a fractal growth model – which was invented by physicists T.A. Witten and L.M. Sander in 1981. The complex black and white life like 3d forms are “grown” in virtual cylinders in a process resembling the growth processes in coral reef structures.


An interesting link just came down Tom Carden's feed, by way of mflux posting it on

The Art in Computer Programming is an article by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, both veteran programmers with views on how programming practices can be improved. At the core of the article is the assertion that programming can be seen as an art form, and that approaches from painting etc. can be gainfully used to improve the process of coding.

Comparing programming to art is not new. Donald Knuth’s monolithic series The Art of Computer Programming establishes the connection quite firmly, even if he uses art as a measure of quality rather than as a description of an aesthetic / critical practice. Paul Graham also seizes on the analogy to painters in his book Hackers & Painters.

Apart from some slightly distasteful analogies involving military scenarios of “hitting your target”, Hunt and Thomas have some interesting points that will be recognizable to experienced coders and newbies alike. The challenge of the blank canvas and writer’s block is familiar, as is the issue of when to stop. On these points the article gives clear and useful suggestions. The issue of “Satisfying the Sponsor” is all-important to software engineers and designers, but perhaps less critical to artists.

For another interesting take on how to program, read this quote from an interview with Bram Cohen in Wired 13.01. Cohen is the genius behind the notorious yet much admired BitTorrent filesharing protocol:

“Bram will just pace around the house all day long, back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. Then he’ll suddenly go to his computer and the code just comes pouring out. And you can see by the lines on the screen that it’s clean,” Jenna says. “It’s clean code.” She pats her husband affectionately on the head: “My sweet little autistic nerd boy.” (Cohen in fact has Asperger’s syndrome, a condition on the mild end of the autism spectrum that gives him almost superhuman powers of concentration but can make it difficult for him to relate to other people.)

Final quote: “[premature] optimization is the root of all evil.” The author of this famous quote is the afore-mentioned Donald Knuth. It was mentioned in a post over on Vogon Poetry (again found through Tom C.) The post summarizes a talk by Cal Henderson on the building of Flickr, interesting reading as it describes how to create a scalable web application almost exclusively from Open Source software.


Just came across Krome Barratt’s wonderful Logic & Design in Art, Science and Mathematics. The book outlines ideas somewhere between art, design and science, applying semi-scientific evaluations to aesthetic issues. The quote above jumped out:

…We enjoy winding paths packed with friendly variety and affording appetising glimpses of future delights with their assurance of survival into the middle and far distance.

Now, if only life was that easy.