Generative art, creative coding, procedural design

Teaching my computer to make prettier mistakes than me

Those names in order of decreasing highbrowness and increasing financial viability.

Either way, it means, more or less, β€œusing algorithms to make pretty things instead of your hands” which I like to think about as designing artists as an artform. If you’ve seen a CGI film in the last 20 years, you’ve seen techniques that approach this. Flocking, L-systems, agents, evolutionary systems, a-life, pattern formation and so on. My interest reflects my High Art, pontifical sensibility. But video games are totes sick too.

Missing: prehistory of such art, early software art and pre-computer algorithmic art. Check out a better source such as Neil Jenkins’ excellent garden of forking paths for some pointers.

Examples of praxis

I praxis myself

Maybe I should also do generative art with neural networks.


Boden, Margaret A., and Ernest A. Edmonds. 2009. β€œWhat Is Generative Art?” Digital Creativity 20 (1-2): 21–46.
Boulanger-Lewandowski, Nicolas, Yoshua Bengio, and Pascal Vincent. 2012. β€œModeling Temporal Dependencies in High-Dimensional Sequences: Application to Polyphonic Music Generation and Transcription.” In 29th International Conference on Machine Learning.
Bown, Oliver. 2009. Ecosystem Models for Real-Time Generative Music: A Methodology and Framework. Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library.
β€”β€”β€”. 2011. β€œExperiments in Modular Design for the Creative Composition of Live Algorithms.” Computer Music Journal 35 (3): 73–85.
Brown, Paul. 2003. β€œGenerative Computation and the Arts.” Digital Creativity 14 (1): 1–2.
Ha, David, Andrew Dai, and Quoc V. Le. 2016. β€œHyperNetworks.” arXiv:1609.09106 [Cs], September.
Holtzman, S. R. 1981. β€œUsing Generative Grammars for Music Composition.” Computer Music Journal 5 (1): 51–64.
Lehman, Joel. 2007. β€œEvolution Through the Search for Novelty.”
Lehman, Joel, Jonathan Gordon, Shawn Jain, Kamal Ndousse, Cathy Yeh, and Kenneth O. Stanley. 2022. β€œEvolution Through Large Models.” arXiv.
Lomas, Andy. 2014. β€œCellular Forms: An Artistic Exploration of Morphogenesis.” In SIGGRAPH Studio, 1–1. ACM Press.
Monro, Gordon. 2009. β€œEmergence and Generative Art.” Leonardo 42 (5): 476–77.
Rohrmeier, M. 2011. β€œTowards a Generative Syntax of Tonal Harmony.” Journal of Mathematics and Music 5 (1): 35–53.
Sorensen, Andrew, and Henry Gardner. 2010. β€œProgramming with Time: Cyber-Physical Programming with Impromptu.” In ACM Sigplan Notices, 45:822. ACM Press.
Steedman, Mark J. 1984. β€œA Generative Grammar for Jazz Chord Sequences.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2 (1): 52–77.
Whitelaw, Mitchell. 2005. β€œSystem Stories and Model Worlds: A Critical Approach to Generative Art.” Readme 100: 135–54.
β€”β€”β€”. 2006. Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life. The MIT Press.
β€”β€”β€”. 2010. β€œSpace Filling And Self-Constraint: Critical Case Studies in Generative Design.” Architectural Theory Review 15 (2): 157–65.
Whitelaw, Mitchell, Mark Guglielmetti, and Troy Innocent. 2009. β€œStrange Ontologies in Digital Culture.” Computers in Entertainment (CIE) 7 (1): 4.
Zhang, Jenny, Joel Lehman, Kenneth Stanley, and Jeff Clune. 2023. β€œOMNI: Open-Endedness via Models of Human Notions of Interestingness.” arXiv.

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