Photo of Dancer and Lights Interacting (Pattern Recognition by Memo Akten)
The project, Pattern Recognition by Memo Akten, is an interactive performance between dancers and lights. Essentially, the lights follow the movement of the dancer, making the dance more dynamic and the movements more continuous. What I admire about this project is the ability of the lights to detect movement of a specific dancer. The reason being that, artistically, the lights can emphasize the movement of one dancer over the others and help direct the audience’s attention to where the choreographer wants their attention to be. I, a dancer myself, find this project fascinating because it adds so much more to the experience of a dance performance.
To briefly explain how this works, there’s a training phase where the learning algorithm analyzes the movement of the dancer (training data) and spits out a model. Then in the prediction phase, new data (paired to a target) is inputted into the model and the model eventually creates an output, a prediction of movement. When creating this project and algorithm, Memo Akten definitely thought about the themes of learning and memory for both the dancer and the machine. As stated in the article below, “Computational Creativity research is not only concerned with the creative output of the algorithms or technical implementation details, but is equally — if not more — concerned with the philosophical, cognitive, psychological and semantic connotations of machines exhibiting creative behavior, or acting creative”.
perspective view of Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain
The name of the project is called Metropol Parasol designed by J. Mayer H. Architects. It is a redevelopment of Plaza de la Encarnacion in Seville, Spain. The building contains 5000 square meters throughout 4 stories. The structure is mainly concrete, timber and steel. The whole building costs 90 Million Euro in construction.
Metropol Parasol is one of the earliest example in architecture that involves generative design. Designers can create unimaginable surfaces and spaces with infinite possibilities and variabilities by the change of a few parameters though self defined algorithms.
Like the project Metropol Parasol, when the designers explore with generative designing softwares like grasshopper, the construction process becomes simple and straightforward. The workers do not need to built each pieces on site, but rather, the pieces are mostly prefabricated in the factory with the help of highly efficient machines. That is the reason why, nowadays, tools like three dimensional printer becomes more and more popular in architectural design.
A piece of generative art that inspired me is Geode (2017) by Nervous System, which is a generative jigsaw puzzle influenced by agate stones. I admire Nervous System’s ability to take inspiration from nature and create a beautiful piece of art. In addition, I admire their ability to take something as mundane as a jigsaw puzzle and turn it into something that is more complex and original.
Nervous System created this puzzle with an algorithm called Maze, which intricately laser cuts wood into puzzle pieces based on growing elastic rods. Maze mimics the idea of growing elastic rods within a restricted boundary, which causes the rods to continuously bend and push into each other. Nervous System incorporates artistic sensibilities by mimicking the natural process of agate formation. The designers were sensitive to the natural patterns that agates create as shown through the similarities between the natural process and the computer generated process. Like the real agate, the computer generated agate develops patterns from the outside in.
The Flow visually imagines physical processes that we can’t see with our eyes. What initially drew me to this project is when I first saw the prints/screenshots, I didn’t expect it to be generated because of the high level of detail it had. When I watched the piece, I felt like I was watching something out of a documentary that was storyboarded and filmed/animated rather than generated. It didn’t match my expectations of what artwork generated through an algorithm would look like, which was very eye-opening. This piece is created through 3D computer simulations of particle systems, and the unpredicted motions generated are recorded by a virtual camera. Just like molecules, these pieces wind up into walls of code and end up layering and building complex 3D visuals. This is an extremely complex piece with a lot to digest, and I think the artist is especially successful in that the generative method he used to create this piece carries just as much weight (if not more) as the final product itself. If someone just saw the video and prints without knowing the process behind it, they’ve missed the point.
Irrational Geometrics is a series of generative art created by French artist, Pascal Dombis. When a person pulls a string (like pictured above), the displays on the screens change. This interactive installation was created using 4 videoprojectors, 2 computers, and custom software. The algorithm used may possibly have to do with randomizing the movement, length, shape, and color of the lines and activating when the string is pulled. This algorithm seems to align with his philosophy that “a line generates reality,” which is often interpreted as a mysterious, constantly moving, abstract concept.
Through the Irrational Geometrics series, Dombis tries to portray the significance and universality of a line. I thought Dombis’s concept of using simply lines to create art is inspirational. He goes beyond what is presented at face value and creates something powerful. The colors in the installations vary widely, and even though the image above is still, it conveys so much movement! It seems as if you’re in another dimension or in some time traveling portal. I think Dombis successfully captured his philosophy that “a line generates reality.”
To see Irrational Geometrics in action, click here!
One of my favorite videos on Rube Goldberg machines.
By definition, Rube Goldberg machines are machines intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and over-complicated way. These machines usually produce a domino effect, in which each device triggers the next one, and eventually reaches some end goal.
I found these machines very amusing and entertaining to watch. I love the effort the creator of this video put in to make this machine function just to turn a newspaper page at the end of the contraption. I also love the ingenuity of these machines, and how some completely normal action is humorously able to start the next action.
The creator of these machines, Rube Goldberg, was originally a cartoonist who designed his first machine in a comic strip. After much popularity, many TV shows and movies used these ideas, thus giving birth to the “Rube Goldberg machines”. And so, Goldberg’s artistic sensibilities came to life in the form of these machines!
These machines give me inspiration to think outside the box and to come up with creative ideas!
After exploring a bunch of generative artist’s portfolios and the websites of a lot of different design and art firms, I found a generative art project that really grabbed my attention. The design studio “Nervous System” created and exhibited a project called “Growing Objects” which, simply put, explored patterns that occur in nature and then simulated them. This caught my eye particularly because the project was hosted by the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, but the images of the objects and visuals they created were beautifully delicate and artistic. The above picture is just one of the many digitally fabricated sculptures in the series, called “Laplacian Cave.” Laplacian growth is one of the four computational systems that the studio featured and explored: this one particularly “involves a structure which expands at a rate proportional to the gradient of a laplacian field.” This type of growing and the resulting pattern can be found in nature in crystallization effects and with different types of fungi and algae.
The studio produced a variety of both 2D and 3D models that used a similar algorithm. They made sure to specify why they were not trying to recreate exactly something that is found in nature, but rather explore how synthetically building objects using these algorithms brings up similarities in the natural world.
I think this project is a really interesting combination of math and art, and I think it is fitting and very “full-circle” that the mimicking of nature and living organisms brings about such an elegant synthesis.
Jackson Mac Low (1922-2004) used computational methods to create poetry in a sort of “cut out” methodology that contradicted conventions of syntax and structure. He implemented algorithms to create abstract texts–but with intricate craftsmanship. Despite the outward incoherence of his texts, Low maintained aesthetic control–even down to the seconds elapsing between each phrase–with methods mirroring those of a composer. The slight connections between consecutive words are even comparable to Siri’s predictive feature on the keyboard.
Strangely, I felt like I understood the essence of his texts, whether that was the sense he intended for his audience or not. For example, in his poem, “Call Me Ishmael” (1972), he pairs the word “circulation” and “long long” and “coffin” that, to me, conveys the mundane cycle that is life. He–or, his algorithm–incorporates tinges of politics as well, with a name characteristic to a specific culture and the phrases “city a land” and “extremest left.”
Low and his methods were a perfect manifestation of “first word art”–what he accomplished was revolutionary. He broke the constraints of composition–and even art. A fruitful creative of the 20th century, he also continued to receive prestigious fellowships and awards throughout his career.
One of the most intriguing generative artists in my knowledge is the Italian generative artist Giacomo Carmagnola. His produces what is called “glitch art”, which is usually a practice of using digital errors in aesthetic purposes. However, Giacomo Carmagnola, a renowned glitch art artist himself shakes up the field by mixing digital computation with human emulations. His works most often are visually impact-full in the most extraordinary ways, usually portraying a human figure with their face replaced by bleeding pixels. These face-less portraits all seem to be telling their stories even without an expression.
Laetitia Sonami is a sound artist and a performer. One of her many projects that astounded me the most was the Lady’s Glove, first made in 1991. Made of rubber kitchen gloves and five Hall effect transducers glued at the tip of the fingers and a magnet on the right hand, varying voltages were fed to a Forth board and converted to MIDI signals. The signals controlled various synthesizers and samplers. Initially, the glove was a satirical response to the masculinity portrayed in virtual reality apparels. Ever since, she has created many iterations of the Lady’s Glove involving new technologies. In her third iteration of the Lady’s Glove, Sonami included a pressure pad with receivers located on her right arm and her left foot. The sensors allowed the program to translate Sonami’s entire bodily gestures into sound. After a few more iterations, the Lady’s Glove now consists of five microswitches, four Hall effect transducers, pressure pad, resistive strips, two ultrasonic receivers, and accelerometer that measures the speed of hand motion. The signals go into STEIM’s Sensorlab, and are encoded into MAX-MSP software. The algorithms involved in this project would be the systems being transferred into STEIM’s Sensorlab. Although I have always found sound design fascinating, Sonami’s gloves resonated with me the most because of the idea of contradicting a stereotyped material and transforming an instrument. I could only imagine how much the rubber glove would have empowered women back in the 90’s and turned the table of perception towards them. I also found the idea of changing motion into intricately layered sound astonishing.