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, “using 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 here reflects my High Art, pontifical sensibility. But video games are totes sick too.

Missing from here: 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. “What Is Generative Art?” Digital Creativity 20 (1-2): 21–46.
Boulanger-Lewandowski, Nicolas, Yoshua Bengio, and Pascal Vincent. 2012. “Modeling 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.
———. 2011. “Experiments in Modular Design for the Creative Composition of Live Algorithms.” Computer Music Journal 35 (3): 73–85.
Brown, Paul. 2003. “Generative Computation and the Arts.” Digital Creativity 14 (1): 1–2.
Ha, David, Andrew Dai, and Quoc V. Le. 2016. “HyperNetworks.” arXiv:1609.09106 [cs], September.
Holtzman, S. R. 1981. “Using Generative Grammars for Music Composition.” Computer Music Journal 5 (1): 51–64.
Lomas, Andy. 2014. “Cellular Forms: An Artistic Exploration of Morphogenesis.” In SIGGRAPH Studio, 1–1. ACM Press.
Monro, Gordon. 2009. “Emergence and Generative Art.” Leonardo 42 (5): 476–77.
Rohrmeier, M. 2011. “Towards a Generative Syntax of Tonal Harmony.” Journal of Mathematics and Music 5 (1): 35–53.
Sorensen, Andrew, and Henry Gardner. 2010. “Programming with Time: Cyber-Physical Programming with Impromptu.” In ACM Sigplan Notices, 45:822. ACM Press.
Steedman, Mark J. 1984. “A Generative Grammar for Jazz Chord Sequences.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2 (1): 52–77.
Whitelaw, Mitchell. 2005. “System Stories and Model Worlds: A Critical Approach to Generative Art.” Readme 100: 135–54.
———. 2006. Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life. The MIT Press.
———. 2010. “Space 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. “Strange Ontologies in Digital Culture.” Computers in Entertainment (CIE) 7 (1): 4.

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