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...]
Tag: conference

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If you don’t have plans for September 11-12 and would like an excuse to visit London, the Media Architecture conference at Central Saint Martins Innovation might make your day. Looking at the impact of large-scale integrated displays on architecture, it’s bound to feature plenty of inspiring presentations about the future of media architecture. Speakers include Joachim Sauter from ART+COM, Tim Edler from Realities united, Els Vermang from Lab[au] and many more.

They’re offering a limited number of last minute tickets starting tomorrow, giving full access for a very reasonable £150. Sounds like a good deal.


Elements of Chance is a YouTube-based conference, organized by Greg Niemeyer and Meredith Hoy at the Center for New Media, Berkeley:

Elements of Chance. On July 7, 2007, The Center for New Media at the University of California at Berkeley will hold a conference entitled “Elements of Chance”. Seventh in a series of algorithmically timed events, the first of which took place at SFMOMA on 01/01/01, the subject of this conference is the role of chance operations in new media artifacts, such as games, music, simulations, and images. The algorithmic basis of digital media has encouraged a proliferation of projects that explore the generative effects of randomness and probability in the field of art production. When and how do media developers, programmers, and artists choose to allow random or pseudo-random operations to affect the performance of a media artifact?
Instead of traditional papers we solicit video contributions that engage these questions. Each presenter will film either a 7 or a 14 minute video discussing the role of chance in a particular work. We encourage submissions from both art practitioners and art critics/historians. To that end, presenters may speak about their own work or about another artist, as long as the content of the video circulates around the central theme of “chance”.

Deadline: 15 May 2007

Apr 23/07

Call for proposals in Florence, Italy, from our friends at Italian media design agency TODO:


BIP 2007 – BUILDING INTERACTIVE PLAYGROUNDS BIP is an international competition for interaction design projects for public events. Through an international call for works, opened to interaction designers, artists, researchers, architets and students, it aims to select, invite and show interactive installations, specifically conceived for events and public spaces.

Simple and straight-forward projects, involving exploration, irony, play and social relationships, that can intrigue a curious and young audience. Projects that are able to transform festival locations into programmed spaces, active processes, playing with time, space and people.

Deadline: 10 May 2007


Call for proposals in Paris and São Paulo:

Festival Emergences. The rendezvous of new artistic forms and new media Emergences brings together French and international artists in Paris within a resolutely trans-disciplinary and original program.

For the fourth edition, we are looking for projects in all disciplines, especially, performances, circus, visual arts, architecture, game art, biotech art, artistic interventions in public spaces, networked performances (in the framework of collaborations with festivals in France and abroad)…

Main artistic themes: Mobility, network and ubiquity | The intimate, the unusual and the strange | The urban and nature | Art in the city
Deadline: 30 May 2006

MOBILEFEST 2006 Symposium Call for Papers & Projects MOBILEFEST is the First International Festival of Mobile Art and Creativity, and will take place in September, in São Paulo, Brazil. In its first edition, it aims to discuss the sociological, cultural and esthetics implications that mobile phones and their technologies have been promoting globally. In fact, the global transformations the world has been gone through have modified the way we realize, interpret and represent reality. [...] MOBILEFEST 2006 seeks paper and presentation proposals responding to the Symposium themes: How can Mobile Technology contribute to democracy, culture, art, ecology, peace, education, health and third-sector?
Deadline: 11 May 2006


Barcelona is always a nice place to be, but the upcoming second week in May may hold particular interest to creatives working with digital media. The reason is the OFFF festival for "Post-Digital Creation Culture". Now in its fifth year, OFFF has moved away from its Flash-oriented roots and embraced the full spectrum of experimental digital work. According to the festival site, OFFF is exploring “software aesthetics and new languages for interactive and visual expression.”

The festival’s biggest pull is probably the presentations by a core of well-known creatives, with names like Kyle Cooper, Weworkforthem, Nando Costa and many more. This year the list is also conspicuously full of names from the computational design and generative art fields: Ben Fry, Golan Levin, Casey Reas, Marcos Weskamp, Zach Lieberman etc. It’s an interesting mix, and while the actual program of events hasn’t been announced yet there are sure to be some good presentations.

A special partner event of OFFF is the EXTEND: Advanced Processing Workshop. Co-produced by OFFF and Hangar (an art centre for the audiovisual arts), the one-week EXTEND workshop will be led by Ben Fry, Casey Reaz, Zachary Lieberman and Marius Watz. The workshop is intended for artists and designers who already know how to code, but who would like to experiment with new topics, learn how to extend the Processing tool itself or just play around in a constructive environment.

The workshop fee is set at a low EUR 50, so it should be accessible to freelancers without design agencies who can bankroll them. The number of places are limited, however. To be accepted, applicants must submit a personal biography and a description of previous experience with Processing.

Application deadline is 21 April. See the following call for more information.

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Murray McKeich

Murray McKeich (img from Memory Trade)

Troy Innocent: lifeSigns

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

Toshio Iwaii, Electroplankton

[Toshio Iwaii, Electroplankton ->]

The Iteration conference series began in 1999, organised by the Center for Electronic Media Arts at Melbourne’s Monash University. This year’s Third Iteration was a three-day event, and while the event has a big Australian focus (it’s the only such conference in .au) there was a large international presence, with keynotes from Peter Bentley, Machiko Kusahara and Casey Reas, as well as several international presenters in the main program.

I’ll cover the keynotes in this post: Peter Bentley’s opening keynote, which made a convincing argument that Von Neumann / Turing style computers are basically all wrong, and that computation should be more organic – distributed, asynchronous, robust, component-based, embodied, and so on. I browsed Bentley’s (edited) book on computational models of growth and development on the book table – definitely worth a look for those seeking more complex & subtle generative systems.

Machiko Kusahara’s keynote was an immersive tour of digital animism in Japanese culture: all manner of digital-media creatures and robots, from Tamagotchi to Post Pets and Aibo. Best of all was the chance to play with Toshio Iwaii’s beautiful Electroplankton on a Nintendo DS. This is a great (but isolated?) example of an artist moving onto game platforms – I hope we see more in this line.

Final keynote was from Casey Reas, who talked about his own artwork and Processing. Casey’s presentation was quiet and spacious, lots of time to take in beautiful full-screen versions of his process drawing pieces. Despite acknowledging the (perhaps temporary) emergence of a Processing aesthetic, the examples Reas presented showed the platform’s increasing breadth and diversity (from custom hardware to machine vision and soda’s Moovl)

Next post: more from the papers and forums…


Two generative art events in Australia:

1. The Third Iteration conference will take place 30 Nov – 2 Dec, at Monashe University near Melbourne. There will be 3 packed days of art and theory on “generative systems in the electronic arts”, with keynote speakers are Peter Bentley, Machiko Kusahara and Casey Reas. There will also be an exhibition of generative art, put together by Paul Brown.

2. The Generative Arts Practice symposium is also a 3 day affair, taking place directly after Third Iteration (5-7 Dec), but this time in Sydney. The same exhibition will be featured here, as Paul Brown is one of the co-chairs of the symposium.

Judging from the lecture titles, a lot of the papers presented will deal with the intersection between artificial life, complexity theory and art practice. This type of “hard science” approach to generative art (sometimes called “alife art”) was not represented at the Generator.x conference. It could easily be argued that it has a longer lineage than the current style of visual abstractions, with artists like Vitorino Ramos, the aforementioned Paul Brown and Karl Sims producing strong work. These two schools of work are not necessarily opposed, but rather concerned with different issues arising from similar methods.


We’re happy to publish another of the manuscripts that were presented at the Generator.x conference. This time we present Susanne Jaschko’s reflections on the precedents and possible positioning of generative art within an art historical context. She outlines the distinctions between retinal and conceptual art as polar references, and presents some of the criticisms of generative art from the contemporary art and media art fields. Attempting to answer some of them, she points to the concept of the sublime and the pursuit of beauty in generative art, particularly in the subsection of the generative art scene that is concerned with visual abstractions.

Process as aesthetic paradigm: a nonlinear observation of generative art
generator.x conference, 23 – 24 September 2005, Oslo, Atelier Nord
© Susanne Jaschko

Abstract: Since the beginning, one of the strongest biases that generative art had to face is its devotion to beauty, to the surface. In other fields of contemporary art, the strong influence of conceptualism has led to an art production characterised by dematerialisation and cognitive immersion. “Process as aesthetic paradigm: a nonlinear observation of generative art” analyses the relevance of traditional aesthetic strategies and categories for generative art and finds answers to the question: Is generative art retinal?

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Readme 100 - Temporary Software Art Factory

The programme for Readme 100 - Temporary Software Art Factory is online. Expect project presentations, software art theory as well as live Excel art, lots of play with code, performative live perl scripting and code music.

The festival will take place in Dortmund 4-5 November, with the core actors of the software art scene strongly represented. The festival is hosted by Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund and organized by Inke Arns, Olga Goriunova, Francis Hunger and Alexei Shulgin, with Amy Alexander and Alex McLean assisting with the selection committee.

This year Readme introduces outsourcing to software art practices, a problematic but fascinating idea:

What position does an artist working with software take on outsourcing? At what point a hired coder becomes a co-author if at all? What is the probability of mutual understanding if a coder comes from a culture where the very concept of software art (and even that of contemporary art) is highly irrelevant?

Web sites like Rent A Coder acts as connection points between coders and potential clients. Readme 100 will address some of the potential results of applying these ideas from capitalist culture to artistic practice.