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:


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