Category: LookingOutwards03


Generative Art
Quayola – Pleasant Places

Quayola’s Pleasant Places is a series of six images formed from videos of trees. The videos are used to generate art by being run through filters which analyze the movement in each video and treat them as brush strokes similar to some kind of controlled motion blur – the leaves and branches do the majority of the painting in this process due to the fact that they’re the most mobile part of the tree. I thought the results were particularly compelling in that they do not look generative, but resemble a form of impressionism. I also thought it was interesting that parts of the original video show up in some of the stills, but does not look out of place

Clacker- LookingOutwards 03

Nervous System is a generative design studio that works at the intersection of science, art, and technology. I am inspired by their “Generative Jigsaw Puzzles” collection. They partnered with artists to make visually engaging prints for the top of the puzzle. Then, using a custom software that simulates crustal growth, totally unique pieces are laser cut into the puzzle. The result is a one of a kind work of art that is both a unique art object, work of generative art and usable puzzle. I am very interested in making works that serve a multitude of purposes. I am especially inspired by how this project is a simple and elegant project that is digitally computed and results in a physical object that can be enjoyed by both someone who appreciates the computation that went into it and someone who does not.

See the project on their website here. 

Generative jigsaw puzzles from Nervous System on Vimeo.


Memo Akten

After briefly discussing Memo Akten’s work in class, I was immediately hooked on his work Forms he created in collaboration with Quayola. I was astonished by the elegant representation of the movement of athletes performing their art. I believe I’m also particularly fond of this work having been a semi-pro athlete myself. There had always been conflict for me, seeing as most artists aren’t usually athletic, and most athletes I’ve met aren’t often artistic. Additionally, rugby in particular is not seen as an artistic sport, the way that gymnastics, figure skating, or equestrian could be. However, I’ve always thought there was something beautiful about athletes that required intense power for their sport. As ad viewer, one often only sees aggression and brute force when watching a rugby game. That force and power comes from hours of delicate and well refined practice, making sure ever muscle is pulled and pushed exactly correctly, making sure every movement is agile and precise. I think that Akten’s work in Forms illustrates this perfectly.

“…it explores techniques of extrapolation to sculpt abstract forms, visualizing unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict..”

After watching Forms many times, I grew more curious of the process, and I was delighted to find that Akten had published a video on his process work. Each athlete clip has the screen divided into five sections, the top left being the original video of the athlete, the top right shows the completed generative pice, and three are the individual measurement components that make up the final piece. From what I can determine, the bottom middle section shows the points of the body and follows the athletes movements closely, the bottom right is similar, but it leaves a trail of where each point has been, leaving long trails of movement. The bottom left shows the forces from the body, as if the athlete were covered in paint or water, and droplets were flung by the movement. To create the final piece Akten takes these three interpretations of movement and visualizes each piece differently in a way that is aesthetically appropriate for the sport.


Akten is clearly passionate about representing the body, kinetic motion, and human skill and art, in unique visual experiences. While this is clear in his interpretation of athletes in Forms, he has also done many works with choreographers and dancers. One of his earlier works with dancers was back in 2009 when he created using Computer Vision and openframeworks, Reincarnation. In this mesmerizing work, a dancer’s movement is reimagined as flame and smoke. Only when the dancer slows down or pauses can you see the human form, other than that, the dancer is completely transformed into fire.



I really love how playful this piece is. The idea of mirroring a person’s silhouette isn’t the most original idea, but it’s the use of the stuffed animal penguins is incredibly fun. It’s a unique use of the material, and the contrast of the black and white works very well. The algorithm itself isn’t very complex as far as I can tell. They just make the penguins turn to represent the person’s silhouette. Without anyone there, consecutively larger circles in the gird of penguins are set to make the penguins turn. I really do enjoy this piece even if it’s not super complex, it’s simple and entertaining.



Cut, May 2015, Leander Herzog

I’m really glad I stumbled across Leander’s website, it’s filled with beautifully executed leaning-conceptual explorations of colour and data. But one of my favourite pieces was his ‘Cut’ project, a 3D spinning rectilinear shape of red and white. It’s completely interactive and renders with a mix of cubish small shadows and larger straight-edge shadows.

The form feels like a combination of random and human-defined elements, but going beyond that to say what type of algorithm defined it is hard to do. Even after a little searching, I couldn’t find the artist talking about the work.

In terms of Effective Complexity, I think it falls more on the side of ordered (than chaotic), especially in how it almost feels like a spaceship or structural form, with the ‘randomness’ around the edges where it seems most believable. Take a look a Star Destroyer below to see how it uses a similar effect to make it seem more ‘real.’ Also, the shapes reminded me of drawing rectilinear cube-forms in Visualizing (51-121), freshman year.



Product Design and Parametric Forms

I got really into looking at generated parametric 2D designs on tangible materials (mostly lasercut) and 3D forms because I just never knew it was possible to create programs to generate 3D forms or on 3D mediums. My interest in this area of generative products comes from playing with the laser cutters in Ideate and the 3D printer in my products studio.

There were so many amazing programmer artists and designers from the lectures that I wish I could all write about (my top three being Marius Watz’s laser drawings, John Edmark’s Fibinocci bloom sculptures, and Wertel Oberfell’s Fractal Tables). Something I find similar and extremely intriguing in most programed 3D forms is this sort of meta design going on of nature inspired patterns and forms are applied on either natural materials (wood, plywood) or a nature inspired pattern/form grows from 3D printers (stereolithography). It’s a new way of seeing nature and materials. The end results are beautifully nature inspired and only possible through generative programs.

Marius Watz left the deepest impression on me because before this summer started, I bumped into a designer in my studio who created similar forms like Watz’s below. He was designing various organic and nature inspired “knobs” he called. One of them looked like a sea urchin shell:


He told me he was designing for patients who have suffered a stroke and can no longer understand or realize what they are interacting with. That’s why he was exploring some organic forms that have more tactile grip and interaction compared with a door knob’s smooth cylinder.

Marius Watz’s forms (2011) make me think about how his design process could be applied to more fields like helping medical patients improve their senses and ability to feel, acting as indicators on walls or products for changes in environmental setting, or simply enhancing our interaction with objects instead of just swiping or tapping on smart phones.

I’m not entirely sure what the steps would be but it seems like he created an algorithm to create these forms, entered the data in CAD software like Rhino, then exported it as stls for the 3D printer, and had to adjust the design to create the best fidelity since the 3D printer can be janky. His CAD files look more chaotic in complex layers and forms than some of the final results, so there are definitely adjustments. His effective efficiency looks to be more on the disorderly and complex side with forms that look more inspired by natural organisms and the ones that are less rotationally symmetrical. Overall I find Marius Watz’s forms both beautiful to look at, potentially functional in their strong tactility, and just fun. It looks like he enjoyed his process and explorations just by the quantity, varying designs, and his bright choice of color.

See Marius’s form studies and more of his work

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Really inspiring and work 🙂


Melanie Hoff is a Brooklyn based artist who actually does a lot of generative art. In her project “15,000 Volts” she sticks metal screws into a piece of wood and passes a current of 15,000 volts through them. While the current goes through the wood it burns its path while trying to find the path of least resistance to complete the circuit.  Despite being a mesmerizing process to watch, the end results of the tiny lightning bolts burned into the wood is also beautiful.

I like this piece because  watching things burn is just very satisfying to watch. I love looking at the embers of a dying campfire and I love using the laser cutter to burn precise markings into things. This piece is like a combination between those two things with its slow burning but delicate line work.

Apart from the start point and endpoint of the burn lines, the resulting burn marks that make up the piece are almost impossible to predict, putting this piece of generative art in the the more disorderly category.

Jaqaur – Looking Outwards 03

I think Incendia is really interesting, because rather than being an individual art project, it’s a software that allows users to make designs with fractals. The examples on their website vary wildly, from traditional swirls to pictures made up of stone columns and suns (show below) or hot air balloons. In this project, the computers seem to have little autonomy, because users get to control most of the factors like color, type of fractal, and anything that would really affect the image. Still, there is a high amount of complexity that just comes with all fractals–they continue infinitely (in theory), so there are a lot of intricate details. Even though everything is extremely orderly, the pictures created by Incendia appear very complex to viewers, and sometimes very beautiful.


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R&Sie(n)’s work is very interesting in that it seems to generate landscapes or extensions of landscapes. These landscapes and extensions seem rather extraterrestrial, and I enjoy how the artists merge the extraterrestrial with the mundane by allowing people or animals(or animal figures?) to interact with the space created within the sculptural versions of the generative works. I like the use of code to manipulate an environment.



Tom Beddard is based in Scotland. He started his career as a laser physicist with a PhD but has since moved onto more creative endeavors. He started Hyper Digital Ltd, which produces mobile and web applications as well as explores information visualization and interactivity. The project photographed below was created with Fractal Labs, an in-browser application which allows people to create and modify 3d fractals in real time with chosen parameters. Beddard describes it as a side project. He exported some of his creations with PixelBender and QuartzComposer. Performance of the algorithm used to generate the fractals was obviously a huge concern, so many optimizations were used in his code.

What I admire most about this work was that it’s not just generative, but Beddard wanted it to be publicly accessible so that anyone can create their own fractals. I appreciate efforts in creative fields that are not exclusive and that make the process transparent. The actual making of the fractal is a nice gui– wonderful!

Beddard has balanced disorder and order in a way that greatly favors order. Every pixel has a correct color, every curve has one correct orientation; this is the inherent nature of fractals. Given that this would theoretically be a software available online, perhaps the results of many iterations by multiple users is disordered.

Link to fractals!


Kelc – LookingOutwards03

Harvey Moon – Bugs Draw For Me

I wanted to explore artist Harvey Moon for my project simply because I was most interested by his drawing machines, namely the one which was controlled by an insect (linked below). After writing about the problem of authenticity addressed in the Lanier’s article, I think this piece expands what I considered the possibilities of robot art and further challenges this authenticity. The tool is now man-made but animal controlled– what other living or nonliving elements can an artist use as a means to instruct a machine? How does the person, animal, or force controlling the robot influence the meaning, impact, and authenticity of the resulting drawing? This piece alone has a very great balance of randomization and instruction in terms of its effective complexity; the insect’s movements are unpredictable and random to US, yet the machine and the resulting drawings have a sort of pattern to them. What I additionally find great about this piece is that the artist has minimal involvement with the resulting process. Nothing innately personalized or stylized comes out of this piece other than the drawing machine itself, which has now been overruled by the creative prowess of the fly it follows. The whole project challenges and pushes the boundary of what can be considered artwork.




Catlu – LookingOutwards03

The Movement of Air: A New Dance Performance Incorporating Interactive Digital Projection from Adrien M & Claire B



Link to work:

This work, The Movement of Air, I found fascinating. Whenever I’ve thought of computer art in the past, or generative art, it’s always been of a screen, or some sort of plant. I don’t think of computer art being mixed with performance art. I admire the simple beauty of the piece. The code makes tantalizing images that dancers/artists react to. Essentially, the computer and code are the dance partners of the people. The dance is ever-changing because of its generative nature, and so the people must always be prepared. The black background of the room grounds the light projections beautifully, while the small chaos of human and machine somehow create balance working together. The music is also gorgeous. In a coding sense, I must admit I have no idea how they randomly generate such diverse, changing imagery. I can imagine maybe doing one of them, but all the different scenes together seems incredible to me.



These are select projects of Kajima Sawako and Michalatos Panagiotis: interactive flash samples a_garden, plant_growth, and fishes, all of whose nature-inspired, stylized linework, and smooth motions are characteristics I admire. When it comes to generative artwork, I instinctively focus on the user experience and outwards aesthetic of the piece before observing closer, and as such the execution of mark-making in these mini projects are quite seamless and impressive. The algorithms that generated the work seem to reflect some sort of fractal, or similarly-based structure, to effectively grow the trees and branches. The fishes are reminiscent of some sprite or object-oriented type spawn to track and follow the user’s cursor. I originally found Sawako and Panagiotis on the AKT-UK website through scriptedbypurpose, which focuses on utilizing geometrical templates to design architecture, and I could connect the algorithm-based tendencies in both their digital and architectural works, which all seem inspired by some seamless, mathematical visualization. These samples represent some balance of effective complexity by generating growth and movement in a more ordered, controlled manner (expected fractal branches, path of fish movement), but not limiting such action to some boundary: this provides some randomness and unexpectedness in where new plants generate, and the constant respawn of new forms in the flash present some disorganized sense of space.

flash projects link//
scriptedbypurpose profile//
architectural designs//



For this looking outwards, I was interested in generative art that predated or didn’t use digital technology, inspired by how the reading positioned generative art as the revealing of existing principles or processes. Looking for this kind of work I stumbled on Tim Knowles project Tree Drawings in which he attaches markers to trees and allows the breeze moving the branches to create sparse, elegant, and natural patterns. I appreciate the simplicity of the project, how both the process that created it and the materials are straightforward, but the output is complex and varies with each unique tree and day. Knowles doesn’t create an algorithm, but captures an existent phenomenon in a way that reveals both the tree and the wind and their interaction. However, that is not to say he does not play a role in creation; where to mount pens, how many, what tree to pick, what size paper, how much wind, etc. were all parameters that I’m sure were carefully considered to perfect the outcome. Interestingly, while the capture technique is so simple, the pieces exhibit high effective complexity, to the point where different trees have identifiable styles, far from random but certainly not deterministic either.

More examples of the work:



Videorative Portrait of Randall Okita from Sergio Albiac on Vimeo.

Sergio Albiac created a project

“Painting a Videorative portrait (a generative, narrative and interactive video portrait) starts with collecting personal videos of the person portrayed, tagged by him/her with relevant concepts and descriptions. Then, using a custom developed tool, the artist “paints with meanings” and generates a video portrait, subtitled with generative personal narratives.” -quoted from his website. What I find most inspiring about the project is it’s ability to take something standard, traditional, antiquated and turn portraiture into a living breathing medium again. As we are able to more accurately and thoroughly represent life, for the majority of people it is not enough to simply have a picture. By encompassing time and memories within his piece, he takes the timeless medium of portraiture into the fourth dimension. One critique I have on the piece is that there was only one final product made. Had he done these portraits on several people we would be able to get a sense of the real powers of the tool. Additionally if he had released the tool so that people could make their own self portraits, it would have been much more powerful. Unfortunately the algorithm behind the tools that he created isn’t really disclosed through the video (or anything else). I know it responds to whatever photos you are tagged in and how you interact with the tool. Albiac is the one who created the response the user gets from the tool. Since he created the rules, his artistic sensibilities are pervasive. The effective complexity leans more in the realm of disorder. The only structure the piece really gets order from is the ability of the viewer to identify eyes, noes, ears and mouth. Because those elements are always there then the viewer can always classify the image as a face which brings comfort and consistency.


Click here to check out the website!

This project, Aurulia by Tom Beddard, and the technology he uses, is amazing! Like I mentioned in my LookingOutwards02 assignment, I love large-scale, 3d cityscapes and renderings, so when I saw a thumbnail that look looked like a city, I immediately clicked on it but was blown away once I started reading into it. Tom interprets Mandalay’s fractal formula in this cityscape way, somehow creating these scenes that don’t quite look repetitive like fractal algorithms generally look like. I absolutely love the detail in it, the realism yet abstraction of this impossible cityscape, and the fact that it was algorithmically generated. I am quite speechless really. The flowing streets and interesting outcropping of buildings, odd round “holes” or “dents” in the mass of flat buildings that almost create a “floor” like Coruscant from Star Wars… it’s all mesmerizing.

I do not know much about Mandalay’s fractal formula, but I do know what fractals are and how they’ve been used for 2D artworks and designs. I have never seen them in 3D before, and this video included in the site also blew me away with how easy it is to create them! It’s almost like cheating, like i could use any screenshot as an artwork but it looks like it actually had very minimal effort to create it. This project has a nice balance between order and disorder- it looks, feels and acts like a real city, but it’s actually created using the randomnes, disorderness yet orderliness of a fractal formula. Like I mentioned above, he managed to break away from the orderly repetitiveness of a fractal formula to create this somewhat organic and varying landscape.


Work: Tom Beddard’s Aurullia


I admire the stunning beauty of the visuals and the incredible amount of details in Tom Beddard’s Aurullia. It cleverly make use of maths and fractals, yet it feels fine tuned and distinguish itself from many other fractal art that looks like math demos. This way of concealing the technology in the piece is what I always liked. It also make me wonder about the details of its implementation.

The algorithm is based on fractals, using a type of Mandelbox called Mandalay. The use of subtle colors and how the parameters are tweaked to have the effect reveal the artist’s aesthetics.

The work has effective complexity on multiple levels: the terrain is random, yet the architecture on it seems to be constructed by intelligent lifeforms. Much of the architecture is orderly, yet there are small variations between them. The artist can control the general look, but much is generative.

Xastol – LookingOutwards03

A generative piece that I really enjoyed is Aether by Thomas Sanches and Gilberto Castro. The piece is, “A series of studies in geometric symmetry, dynamic particles and interactivity on a large multitouch screen.”

I really admire the interactivity and how the artists allow for users to explore different ways of altering the geometric structures. Interactivity is something I’ve always been interested in, and I believe that giving the user the power to control the outcome of pieces is really important for developing a more personal relationship with the consumer.

The algorithm that generated the work had to involve a lot of geometry, physics, and had to know how certain points react to one another and how they also react to the entire geometric system.

The artwork’s effective complexity is the geometric shape that the user interacts with. For anyone looking at it, it’s obvious that it’s just a random shape. However, the system becomes complex when the user alters it: each user will manipulate the piece in a different way, therefore allowing for more complexity and a different outcome. The idea of order and disorder is balanced by allowing the system to return to its original state (similar state) even after it was altered.

Aether Website –

kander – LookingOutwards03

Pixtil is a French textile design company that creates generative textile design patterns. Each time their program, called Génératif, is run, a unique textile design is generated, which can either be printed with ink or weaved (with each pixel representing the crossing of a warp and weft thread). The patterns are generated in Processing, and then converted to a binary file so it can be printed. There are some limitations on each series – for example, they might be different configurations of the same components, or they might have the same color scheme, or they might be symmetrical. From what I can tell, color is generated from within a specified range, and shapes are randomly generated, but have an algorithm that places them. For the symmetrical designs, perhaps 1/4 of the design is generated and it is then rotated accordingly to fill the other 3 quadrants?

The patterns (and the cloths that carry them) are often very lighthearted and carefree, and the artists’ understanding of textile patterns clearly makes its way into the art, as many of the patterns feel like they belong on fabric. The randomness is definitely implied – the algorithm doesn’t generate a completely repetitive pattern, but there is repetition in the shapes that are used. Each shape that the algorithm generates “matches” the others of that pattern. I applaud the artists for using code-generated art in a non-digital format – I’d imagine that it’s not that difficult to transfer the pattern to the loom once it’s generated, but it’s still an interesting application of generative art. More complicated algorithms is probably the next step for Pixtil – right now, the patterns feel very digital. But still a cool project!

Company Page

Creative Applications Article about their 2015 table napkin series

One of their table napkins One of their table napkins

Below is a video detailing an earlier design from 2013, and giving an overview of their project

Drewch – LookingOutwards03


My real favorite generative work so far is Forms by Quayola and Memo Akten, but since we looked at that in class, I’ll talk about another artist that I was impressed by instead: Markos Kay. I really like his work Insect Traps (2010), where he supposedly pits an insect and a bunch of microscopic things in mortal combat…? Regardless of what’s actually happening, the work generates really beautiful prints and raises odd questions. The geometric composition (mostly) controls the bounds of where the shapes can fall and bounce, and the insect is trapped inside while it tries to escape the onslaught. That’s as much as I can say about how his code might work, I’m really left guessing about how he handled lighting and colors and irregular physics and what-not (how do I do gaussian blur??).

Markos Kay is still able to show his artistic personality in his algorithms, however. He often creates these kinetic animations that have weird, organic motion, usually trying to emulate microscopic organisms. The chaos in this piece is from the microbial debris that is falling all over the place, sometimes even tumbling out of the box they’re contained in, but otherwise, the microbes are bound by this box, along with the insect. The box provides a reliable geometric composition that contrasts interestingly with the chaos going on inside. The effective complexity of this piece comes from this balance.



GO TO 2 min 15 secs into the video!

Ἁρμονία【巡音ルカ・初音ミク】[Processing Minim Video] from 4Y4 on Vimeo.

I love the delicate, incredibly sensitive motion of the little ‘line spider’ that reacts almost magnetically to the position of other lines – the process of drawing the lines becomes faster and faster the more lines there are already – the spider grows more ‘legs’ to make the connections – the seemingly erratic yet controlled movement is mesmerizing and the path left behind looks like delicately spun silk with a beautifully controlled yet free pattern. There is a cultivated randomness with beautiful visual rhythm that seems to reflect the music of the video.

The color’s are controlled by what areas the spider is magnetically drawn to. I love it. Code wise… – that’s tough. Perlin noise used to determine how far the moving spider point needs to be from another existing vertex to connect – if the vertex is close enough at a certain point in time according to a noise funciton – a line is made and the creation of that line contributes to the vector that determines the spider’s direction? It’s definitely more complicated. But it was hard to find more about this piece in a language I understand. (as in…..english)

That being said, here’s another piece that I absolutely loved by Chris Riebschlager –

To play with his program in the browser:




One of my all time favorite artists ever is american impressionist John Singer Sargent. His effortlessly beautiful brush work is to DIIIIIIEEEE for. I love it – there’s a suggestion of movement and form that leaves the mind’s eye filling in the gaps as the eye is drawn across the piece endlessly. I feel some of that in Chris’s brush work above.

The rest of his aesthetic does tend toward computational generated textured brush like strokes/patterns and movement. Another of his projects was a program that took user inputted strokes and made them look like monet’s multicolored paint clumps. An instant ‘paint like monet’ moment.

How’d he do it? I’m guessing he ran an existing image through the program which picked up random select colors from where the brush is, and then with some measure of controlled randomness (gaussian?) created colors for the indibidual swirling lines that are bezier controlled by values based on the mouse direction/speed.