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      Working with Generative Systems: An Artistic Perspective


      Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2017) (EVA)

      Electronic Visualisation and the Arts

      11 – 13 July 2017

      Generative art, Procedural modelling, L-systems, Evolution, Grammars, Computational sublime, Agency, Autonomy



            Generative systems are unique in that they allow the artist to specify processes rather than outcomes. In this paper, I describe my creative approach to working with complex computational systems that I have designed and coded over several decades. These systems require certain ways of working that offer both liberation and restriction on creative practice. To illustrate how these systems work in a creative sense, I will give an overview of two recent works: Fifty Sisters (2012–2016) and The Unknowable (2015–2017). Fifty Sisters comprises of fifty 1m × 1m images of computer synthesised plant-forms, algorithmically “grown” from computer code using artificial evolution and generative grammars. Each plant-like form is derived from the primitive graphic elements of oil company logos. The title of the work refers to the original “Seven Sisters” – a cartel of seven oil companies that dominated the global petrochemical industry and Middle East oil production from the mid-1940s until the oil crisis of the 1970s. The Unknowable is a three-channel 4k video triptych. The work depicts a series of virtual flora, evolved using computer programs based on biological evolution. In each sequence evolved plant species slowly disintegrate and then reform, breaking into their fundamental component – the polygon – then reforming anew in an endless cycle of destruction and reconstitution. Both works are mediations on our changed relationship to nature and the natural in a globalised, disconnected virtual world now effectively navigated through digital media.


            Author and article information

            July 2017
            July 2017
            : 213-218
            [0001]sensiLab, Monash University

            Caulfield East, Australia
            © McCormack. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. Proceedings of EVA London 2017, UK

            This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

            Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2017)
            London, UK
            11 – 13 July 2017
            Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
            Electronic Visualisation and the Arts
            Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
            Self URI (journal page): https://ewic.bcs.org/
            Electronic Workshops in Computing

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