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...]
Generative art

Generative art has been defined as “any art practice where the artist creates a process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other mechanism, which is then set to motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a complete work of art.” (Philip Galanter).

Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms (slideshow of “gx30″ tag on Flickr)

Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms
Feb 18-26, 2012 at iMal, Brussels

The Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms workshop at iMAL, Brussels culminated last Friday in an exhibition of works created during the week. As expected there is a wide range of works and expressions, from Makerbot’ted data sculptures (Frederik Vanhoutte, Andrej Boleslavsky, Katerina Konstantopoulos + Erato Choli) to distorted 3D scanned objects (Matthew Plummer-Fernandez) and parametric paper folding (Julien Deswaef).

For a complete overview of the workshop and its results, take a look at the Flickr tag “GX30″ which currently covers over 1000 uploads. Another important resource is iMAL’s wiki site Wikimal, which includes source code and tutorials published in connection with the workshop. Some participants have also published their own source code, such as Corneel Cannaert’s release of his Processing code to directly output G-code for Makerbot control.

In conclusion: Like Generator.x 2.0 before it, Generator.x 3.0 proved that the combination of generative strategies with digital fabrication continues to be a fruitful field for creative inquiry. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what is made possible by applying parametric modeling and data-driven processes to the imagining of objects and spatial structures.

Again, we’d like to thank iMAL for the invitation to collaborate on this project, which would not have been possible without the infrastructure and know-how that iMAL provided. But most importantly we’d like to thank all the workshop participants for getting in a room together and sharing of their experience. One of the real privileges of the Generator.x workshops on digital fabrication has been to bring artists, architects and designers together to see what can be learnt by juxtaposing their various fields of knowledge.

The people of Generator.x 3.0:

iMAL: Yves Bernard, Yannick Antoine, Marie-Laure Delaby and Greg Alveolis.

Workshop participants: Stéphane Perraud, Corneel Cannaerts BE, Hans Verhaegen, Jan Vantomme, Bert Balcaen + Ingrid Stojnic, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Frederik Vanhoutte, Julien Deswaef, Katerina Konstantopoulos + Erato Choli, Frederik De Bleser + Lieven Menschaert, Jihyun Kim, Korea, Andrej Boleslavsky and Andreas Kahler.

Workshop coordinator: Marius Watz.

Feb 24/12
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Below is a Twitter feed of tweets from Generator.x 3.0 participants. It’s perhaps a little late in the game considering that the Generator.x 3.0 workshop is on its next-to-last day, but still of interest in the runup to the exhibition which opens Friday 18:00 at iMAL, Brussels.

It’s been a full week of coding and fabricating, with some machine trouble underways but a great crew of people with interesting ideas. The Makerbots have been running constantly, with charming results. Documentation will be posted on Flickr, previews can already be found on iMAL’s photostream.

Thanks in particular to Yves, Marie-Laure and Yannick for being the excellent hosts of iMAL, and a special thanks to Greg for keeping the machines running.


Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms
Feb 18-26, 2012 at iMal, Brussels


Marius Watz: Form Studies (Makerbot)

Announcing Generator.x 3.0: From Code to Atoms, a workshop and exhibition focusing on digital fabrication and generative systems. This event is an evolution of Generator.x 2.0: Beyond the Screen, which took place in Berlin during Club Transmediale 2008. Generator.x 3.0 is produced by iMAL in collaboration with Marius Watz.

Context: Digital fabrication drastically changes manufacturing by democratizing access to industrial tools as well as changing the way objects are produced, opening the door for the on-demand creation of bespoke objects. Combined with the “craft” of code it becomes possible to directly connect parametric software processes to an instant manufacturing workflow, turning bits into atoms and introducing a paradigm that is radically different from traditional 3D modeling.

Generative systems shift the focus from static models towards a computational logic – what Bruce Sterling calls processuality. Here objects are understood as mere instances of a family of forms, produced by a specific interaction of parameters. Such forms may be data-driven or created through interactive means, adapting to conditions coded into the system. The artist becomes a “gardener” of possible forms, harvesting desirable results in an iterative process of coding and prototyping.

Workshop format: Participants will be chosen from a call for projects, with a focus on experience combining coding practices with digital fabrication. We will have large and powerful laser cutter machine on site, as well as several low-cost 3D Printers (Makerbots). The main software tool will be Processing (, but we also welcome users of other coding tools like VVVV, PD or OpenFrameworks.

The workshop will be hands-on and geared towards producing projects ready for exhibition at the end of the project. Participants will be expected to be familiar with code and generative strategies. There will be short tutorials demonstrating certain techniques, but the main focus is on the participants’ own independent work.

Call for projects: Submit projects or concepts for consideration through the online form on the iMAL web site.

Support: Generator.x 3.0 is produced by iMAL, and is made possible by the support of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, and our sponsors Hackable-devices (Paris and Ghent) and i.materialise.

abstrakt Abstrakt: SOFTlab

SOFTlab: (n)arcissus, 2010
Site-specific installation, laser cut mylar & acrylic

“(n)arcissus” is a site-specific spatial intervention in the stairwell of the Frankfurter Kunstverein, an artificial skin that drops down through the vertical space using gravity as a principle. By designing the form as a parametric model SOFTlab are able to manipulate the formal qualities of the final output while simultaneously optimizing it for physical construction. Their script breaks the surface down into individual surfaces for laser cutting, producing the unique modules needed to produce the larger structure.

Digital tools are not new to the field of architecture, but the last few years have seen an explosion in the use of generative systems combined with digital manufacturing processes. This new style of computational architecture explores the creation of complex forms based on parametric processes, giving rise to a new range of architectural expression while eliminating the economy of mass-produced form. Positioned at the heart of this movement, SOFTlab is an emerging architectural practice whose work combines scripted processes with knowledge of materials and principles of construction.

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abstraktAbstrakt: John Powers - God's Comic

John Powers: God's Comic, 2010
5 x 3 x 5 meters, Sculpture constructed from polystyrene blocks (site-specific unique installation)

The impenetrable geometries of John Powers’ abstract sculptures call to mind a wide range of influences, borrowing equally from art movements like postminimalism and pop culture icons like Star Wars. Meticulously constructed by hand, Power’s forms are constructed out of a limited formal vocabulary: Polystyrene blocks cut to a selection of preset sizes, attached to each other at 90 degree angles. The resulting structure gives the appearance of being a computer-aided design but is in reality the outcome of a human-executed algorithm, dictated by the artist’s intuition expressed through the repetitive action of connecting blocks.

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abstrakt Abstrakt: Brandon Morse

Brandon Morse: Achilles, 2009
Multi-screen video

In “Achilles” we are presented with a collection of rigidly modeled three-dimensional grids, recalling the skeletons of tall buildings. Suspended in space and rendered in monochrome, they at first appear stable and solid. This illusion is broken as the forms begin to deform and collapse, their networks of vertices and lines collapsing as a result of simulated gravity.

Brandon Morse exploits the digital simulation of rigid body physics to construct static tableaux, only to be destroyed by inevitable collapse towards entropy. He makes no attempt at photorealistic trickery, simply allowing the event to unfold without adding any expressive affect. His compositions recall the formal language of minimalist sculpture, updated to include simulations of kinetic behavior.

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abstrakt Abstrakt: Louise Naunton Morgan

Louise Naunton Morgan: The Human Printer, 2008
Various sizes, felt tip on tracing paper

As “The Human Printer”, Louise Morgan offers her services of ‘printing’ images manually. In the same process as for offset printing, the motifs  are separated as CMYK halftones. These grids are then, dot by dot, meticulously transferred onto paper by hand. The motifs dissolve into a coarse technical structure with a washed-out quality that reminds of the approaches to representation invented by pointillists.

Morgan’s indifference toward the motifs that are ordered bespeaks a democratic image regime in her work, which is otherwise encountered only in the production lines of industrial photographic laboratories. At the same time, she makes a new case for technical image production in art, which has been discussed ever since Warhol’s Factory and Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’.

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abstrakt Abstrakt: Robert Hodgin - Sketches 2005-2010

Robert Hodgin: Sketches 2005-2010
Digital video

Computer code is perhaps the most immaterial of materials, consisting of text sequences dotted with obscure typographic symbols that read almost as concrete poetry. Writing code requires the description of the desired outcome as a result of the atomic steps required to achieve it – an algorithm.

Robert Hodgin is an alchemist of such algorithms, manipulating computational processes as the very material from which his work is created. In “Sketches 2005-2010” we trace the evolution of his work, often disregarding final versions in favor of work-in-progress sketches revealing the material explorations Hodgin goes through in order to produce the final work.

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abstrakt Abstrakt: Leander Herzog - Sound Object

Leander Herzog – Sound object (data.matrix, Ryoji Ikeda), 2010
Laser cut plastic

The human ear perceives sound as an intangible presence, produced by vibrations travelling through a physical medium (air, water, even solids). Recorded sound is produced by measuring these vibrations for later reproduction by mechanical means. What we experience as harmony and rhythm appears to the computer as a one-dimensional number sequence.

Leander Herzog’s data sculptures perpetuate this disregard of the emotional dimension of music, looking at the sound input simply as a frozen space of random-access data. Herzog replicates this data stream by perforating plastic ribbons at intervals matching amplitude measurements, producing ornate collections of short and long loops. The result is a curious data artifact, numerically correct but completely disconnected from its own origin as sound.

This text is taken from the NODE10 catalogue, written by Eno Henze and Marius Watz and edited by Valérie-Françoise Vogt. Please read the introductory curator text for an overview of the exhibition topic.

abstrakt Abstrakt: Leander Herzog - Sound Object

abstrakt Abstrakt: FIELD - Interim Camp

FIELD: Interim Camp (2008), Muse (2010)
Computer-generated short films

The experimental short films “Interim Camp” and “MUSE” show us a glimpse into fluid dream worlds, synthetic spaces generated through custom software processes. The cinematic vision is here a product of algorithms controlling the camera’s motion as well as the simulated terrain it moves through.

The creation of artificial worlds has been a constant trope in computer graphics since its inception, reflecting the desire to model an alternate reality in silicon perfection. FIELD (Marcus Wendt and Vera-Maria Glahn) acknowledges this utopian vision, embracing a graphic style that clearly reveals the illusion they present to the viewer. Their films show three-dimensional landscapes but are constantly on the verge of becoming pure abstraction, space devolving into a composition of surfaces. Perhaps we should understand them as much as moving paintings as renderings of artificial worlds.

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