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, 2007

A post on the excellent Interactive Architecture blog reminds us that John Frazer’s classic book An Evolutionary Architecture" is downloadable as a PDF. Originally published in 1995 and now out of print, the book gives a fascinating history of experiments in computational architecture going back to the 1960’s. Frazer’s main interest is in the use of biological models in architecture, applying classic Alife models like cellular automata and genetic programming to spatial problems.

Given its age and that it was already a retrospective account when it was released, the historical perspective is one of the best aspects of the book. But this also means that many of the concepts are presented in a somewhat outdated way. Frazer’s approach to architecture is rather dry and academic, and his text can tend towards the bombastic. Still, the way he combines 1960’s utopian belief in systems with modern technology gives food for thought.

(In all modesty, there was a Generator.x post about the book all the way back in 2005.)

Erik Natzke: Exploring the Medium

From Flickr – Erik Natzke: Skyy / Summertime / MLCP 1c

We recently posted an entry about the rise of Flickr as a community resource for artists and designers working with computational strategies. Well-known figures like Erik Natzke post documentation of their work, while Flickr groups like, VVVV and Create Digital Motion gather a wide variety of people, with great diversity and high quality of work.

Nevertheless, there is still not a good general group dedicated to generative art and computational design. The tool-oriented groups are great, but naturally confine themselves to topics related to those platforms. The remaining handful of “digital art” groups typically suffer from varying quality and unclear guidelines. They are also frequently flooded with Photoshop collages and dubious fractals, meaning that the signal-to-noise ratio can be quite low.

Dave Bollinger: Tangle

From Flickr – Dave Bollinger: Tangle

As some readers may know, there is in fact already a Generator.x group on Flickr. It has sadly been inactive for some time, being originally intended to document Generator.x events. It seems like a no-brainer to repurpose what is essentially a dead group and turn it into an arena for work that is related to the scope of Generator.x.

If you are a Flickr user creating work using computational strategies, please join the group and contribute to the community. Add old favorites as well as new work, post exhibition announcements in the discussion area and generally make yourself at home. As long as your images are clearly related to the topics of Generator.x, it doesn’t matter what tool or material was used to produce them.

A Generator.x Flickr badge to display images from the group is in the works. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ll post!

Update: The Flickr badge has been implemented (using the excellent phpFlickr library), and can be seen in the sidebar on the left.


It’s rare that something gets blogged on Generator.x simply because of its wow factor. There are plenty of design blogs out there to take care of that end of things. Even more rarely are “cool web sites” reported here It’s quite rare these days to see anything that’s really all that surprising in any case.

Despite all this, something just clicked when the Flash-based portfolio site of Japanese art director Kashiwa Sato came up while blogsurfing. Simultaneously minimal and gorgeously over-the-top, it has to be one of the sexiest interfaces out in a long time. The elements used might be nothing new, but the combination is unusually potent.

The front page of the site displays a large grid of projects, each listed with a title and short description. But what steals your gaze is the animated color bars over each project, combining to turn the page into a constantly moving RGB space. Each color bar contains a selection of colors from the project in question, brilliantly giving a unique visual identification. The resulting look is not just gorgeous and visually complex, it also instantly communicates a sense of Sato’s design aesthetics.

[Via Yukio Andoh]

mos: Ivy coat rack

Michael Meredith / mos Office: IVY coat rack

Here is an unusual promotional quote: “IVY is a coatrack for people who hate coatracks and wall art for people who hate coats.” It might sound like hubris, but IVY could just deliver.

Designed by Michael Meredith of New York architects mos, IVY consists of a set of building blocks. Y-shaped elements are joined by 4 different connectors to create geometric configurations that are reminiscent of the Penrose tiling. The result is a wall-covering form that both looks good and is capable of bearing a moderate weight – perfect for hats and coats.

Available in a few select colors (grey is stylish, but who doesn’t love chartreuse), IVY is sold in bags containing 16 Y elements with matching connectors. See the web site for images and a list of retailers. Rare Device sells a bag for $60, which seems affordable enough. There is a software demo in the form of a Java applet, which shows the system growing in two dimensions. But playing with the real thing is probably a great deal more fun…

mos is in the Scriptedbypurpose show, which opens today. See their bio page for more examples of computational strategies for architecture.

Ebru Kurbak / Mahir M. Yavuz: Newsknitter

Ebru Kurbak / Mahir M. Yavuz: Newsknitter

While the generative potential of knitting should be obvious (it has pixels, it follows rules), a new project by Turkish artists Ebru Kurbak and Mahir Yavuz shows the full computational potential of the medium: Newsknitter combines computerized knitting technology with live internet feeds to produce the ultimate in customized sweaters. Using the daily news as a data source, a software generates different visualizations which are then finalized as patterns ready for knitting.

Newsknitter will be shown at the Ars Electronica festival this week as part of their Campus 2.0 exhibition at Kunstuniversität Linz. On display will be 10 unique sweaters generated by the Newsknitter software. The sweaters were produced at TETAS Tekstil in Istanbul, using Shima Seiki knitting hardware.

The Newsknitter web site does not indicate whether custom garments will eventually be for sale, even though it would seem an obvious extension of the project. Too bad the daily news typically makes for a grim way to commemorate one’s birthday or other significant date.

For a different take on generative knitting, see this old post: Freddie Robins: How to make a piece of work when you’re too tired to make decisions.

[Link via pöfmagazine]