Fifty Sisters – digital exhibition at Caulfield Library

Fifty Sisters by Jon McCormack at the Caulfield Library, Monash University

Following on from a previous exhibition at the Hargrave-Andrew Library (Monash University, Clayton) in 2015, a software-based version of Fifty Sisters is showing at the newly refurbished Caulfield Library, Monash University, Caulfield (map). In this version of the work, the computer acts as editor, selecting and framing several closeup shots of each sister, before finally displaying the full image. A new image is presented every 10 minutes or so. The work runs on the library’s new video wall, which has 4k resolution and reveals significantly more detail in the images than the version exhibited at the Hargrave-Andrew Library in 2015.

Some images from the exhibition.

Fifty Sisters by Jon McCormack at the Caulfield Library, Monash University Fifty Sisters by Jon McCormack at the Caulfield Library, Monash University Fifty Sisters by Jon McCormack at the Caulfield Library, Monash University

Creative AI meetup

I’ll be speaking at the next Creative AI meet up in Melbourne with some help from Patrick Hutchings who’ll be talking about deep learning for real-time music generation in games.

I’ll be talking about some of my creative AI projects that use machine learning and evolutionary algorithms, plus an overview of our Improvisational Interfaces project.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Magnet Galleries
Level 2, 640 Bourke St, Melbourne

EVA London

I attended the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts Conference (EVA) in London from Tuesday 11th July – Thursday 13th July 2017 where I presented the paper:

Working with generative systems: An artistic perspective.

Here’s the abstract:

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 x 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.

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


I also got the opportunity to see the Robots show at the Science Museum in London, which included one of my all-time favourite works of cybernetic art: Edward Ihnatowicz’s Sound-activited Mobile, previously shown at the seminal Cybernetic Serendipity show at the ICA London in 1968.

Sound-Activated Mobile

Edward Ihnatowicz’s SAM at the Science Museum, London, 2017

Red Green Blue: A History of Australian Video Art

Curated by Matthew Perkins, ‘Red Green Blue‘ brings together works from the 1970s through to the present day, drawn from the archives, artist holdings and the Griffith University Art Collection. Presented over three episodes, each running for a month, the exhibition takes the viewer on a historical journey that is also a celebration of the ongoing dynamism and depth of Australian video art practice.

This exhibition features a video excerpt from Turbulence: an interactive museum of unnatural history, which premiered at the ACM SIGGRAPH Art Show in 1994. The work screens in Episode Three – ‘Blue: Perception and Encounter’, which runs from Tuesday 6 June to Saturday 8 July 2017 at Griffith University Art Gallery. More information on the Griffith Art Gallery site.

Turbulence exhibition at the 5th International Biennale in Nagoya – ARTEC’97

Video Excerpt

Consciência Cibernética [?]

Jon McCormack's Eden at Itáu Cultural, São Paulo, BrazilJon McCormack's Eden at Itáu Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil

An exhibition of my work, Eden, features as part of the exhibition Consciência Cibernética (Cybernetic Consciousness) at the Itaú Cultural centre in São Paulo, Brazil.

Featuring ten works by Brazilian and foreign artists using technology in art the exhibition takes an artistic look at the evolution of machines and asks whether they will be able to achieve functions previously performed only by the human brain.


In the Symposium, which took place on the first two days of the exhibition, artists who are part of the exhibition discussed their works and creation processes, contextualised with presentations by experts in the areas of artificial intelligence and quantum information theory.

The exhibition runs from Thursday 8th June until Sunday 6th August 2017.

More information on the Itaú Cultural website.