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