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: scheme

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Matthew Lewis: Sketch

Matthew Lewis: Sketch Left: Complete image. Right: Detail. More sketches here.

Who says idle browsing of Flickr images can’t be productive? While using Doug Marttila's findr hack to browse tag structures on Flickr, this lovely Sketch popped up.

Some background research reveals another page with little more info. The piece is by Matthew Lewis, a “Graphics Research Specialist” at Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), Ohio State University (OSU). Sketch is from 1998, and the technical platform used was AL, developed at ACCAD by Stephen May. AL is a Scheme-based environment for procedural computer animation, and is still available for Linux platforms.

Lewis calls the piece a drawing machine. In his own words:

Inspired by [Harold] Cohen, I’d written some Scheme software to represent and generate shapes consisting of clusters of “marks”. The program generated postscript that was then printed.

The theme of automated drawing crops up again and again. Drawing machines practically constitute a sub-genre of generative art. Lewis’ machine is striking because of its whimsical, hand-drawn quality. It avoids a typical computer-drawn look, and manages instead to capture a more naive form of line drawing.

Matt has been good enough to make more Sketch images available as a set on Flickr. They demonstrate a consistent quality of line, somehow cartoon-like. Click the “All sizes” button to get up close and personal with a high-res version.

Lewis has also created a body of generative work done in Jitter, including some work with genetic algorithms. He also also teaches Jitter at ACCAD. In 2004 he and Hans Dehlinger (one of the original Algorists) presented a paper at the Generative Art Conference in Milan on generative line drawing using photographs. Have a look at his Generated set on Flickr for more images.

Fluxus, a visual livecoding environment

Dave Griffiths: Fluxus

Fluxus is a new livecoding tool developed by Dave Griffiths, an artist working with software for generative art and live visuals. Fluxus uses the programming language Scheme (a Lisp dialect) to script a rendering engine with built-in 3D graphics and physics simulation. Fluxus runs under MacOS X only.

The scripts are executed and evaluated in realtime without compilation, and can therefore be programmed on-the-fly. This process is described on the TOPLAP wiki: Live Coding of Graphics. Fluxus also allows audio input and OSC data to be used as parameters.

This style of always-executing programming is called livecoding, and is described in the draft manifesto of the TOPLAP group. Livecoders propose a hardline approach to the understanding of software-based art: The code and the process of writing it should be visible to the audience, and not hidden inside a “black box”. This attitude falls in line with a group of artists generally described as software artists. Software art is concerned with the politics of the software in itself, whereas generative art is more commonly concerned with its output. Theorists like Florian Cramer and Inke Arns have written extensively about software art.