The term ‘generative art’ is an expansive sub-category of contemporary art and predominantly refers to the use of computer coding systems in the process of making art, and often draws inspiration from themes like modern art's geometric forms, such as in pop art. The generative process embraces experimentation, where the artist carefully controls aspects of the work, whilst allowing some parameters to remain randomised. A feedback loop is thus created, where the artist is constantly tweaking a system to produce different results.
Also associated with process art, the practice has its roots in dada, and may be traced to pioneering artists like Harold Cohen, who used computer-controlled robots to generate paintings in the late 1960s, and was considered one of the first practitioners of generative art.
During the 60s and 70s, a large number of female generative artists emerged, making key contributions, such as Vera Molnár, one of the more prolific generative artists active until the ‘80s; whilst art researcher Lillian Schwartz who worked as artist-in-residence at Bell Labs in 1968, and was the first to have generative art acquired by the MoMA.
Today, the likes of Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson was lauded for his ArtMachine, a complex recursive system that generated detailed propositions for artworks, whilst Sedition artists like Casey Reas, who together with Ben Fry created the Processing Foundation in 2012 which supports software development within the field. Reas writes software to explore conditional systems as art, where through defining emergent networks and layered instructions, he has defined a unique area of visual experience that builds upon concrete art, conceptual art, experimental animation and drawing. He has created works including prints, objects, installations and performances from his visual systems, featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions at institutions worldwide including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Whitney, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
His digital video-piece Infinite Command Team, exclusively available on Sedition, was derived from Reas’ work Signal to Noise. The latter is a so-called collage engine, a programme that uses terrestrial television signals as raw material and transcribes them into visual footage.
Meanwhile, our latest release from Austrian artist LIA, known for her work in software and net art, is a collection titled Flow Fields - using generative coding to reinterpret Van Gogh’s most iconic paintings into digital artworks. Using computer algorithms in custom-designed software to change the form of paintings such as Sunflowers, The Starry Night, and Almond Blossom, she has taken the colour palettes as a base, whilst the computer code uses ‘flow fields’, a generative art technique that reveals the visible lines and loops that occur in magnetic fields. The formula used by LIA renders imagery to different parameters, creating an infinite number of variations in the lines of the original paintings.
Active since the mid-90s, where her practice spans across video, performance, installations, sculpture, projections and digital applications. LIA’s primary working material is code, her works typically combine the traditions of drawing and painting with the aesthetics of digital images and algorithms - to create a dialogue between human and machine. Some of her previous works such as Not Even Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Inside the Diamond were created by using a set of rules that combine both numerical constants and instructions for digital interpretation. The latter transcribe into crystalline structures that, over time, evolve in colour, giving the impression of light being refracted through a prism. The constant evolution of Inside the Diamond develops slow enough to be observed in great detail.
Whilst Animal Imagination is an exclusive collection of 50 unique artworks, taking references from nature and animals. The works present different geometric and abstract shapes, generative patterns and colours, which evolve uniquely in each of the two-minute digital paintings. From sea, to forest and animal references, each variation connects its coded base with an organic aesthetic, providing a sense of harmony between the digital and the natural. This algorithmic system serves LIA like an instrument with which she programmes each variation using different parameters akin to painting with code, generating new and delicately evolving variations with each work. The collection was initiated as part of a collaboration between LIA and musician Sommer Eide aka Phonophani, where together they presented a live AV performance in Stavanger and Bergen in Norway.
Barcelona-based Alba G. Corral is an artist and creative technologist with a background in computer engineering, who explores abstract narratives by combining generative systems with improvised drawing techniques - such as for her live audio-visual performances where she integrates real-time coding and drawing in collaboration with musicians including Jon Hopkins. Her work on Sedition, titled Siroi Mura is an audio-visual artwork where she explores the relationship between sound and visual art through a collaboration with musician Odil Bright, initially commissioned for the New Realities exhibition by Alpha-ville.
Whilst Scottish-born, Berlin-based Florence To designs and produces sound and light installations with a strong focus on architectural spatial design on site-specific projects. She uses digital technologies to develop installations in underground and disused spaces using their defects as an advantage. Her Numa release on Sedition is a study on visual behaviour and perception, in which a system of iterating wave values and randomly changing wave shapes are formed, differentiating between the mathematical and non-mathematical approach to the geometry of visual perception.
Recently launched, the six-piece collection Evolutionary Cosmos on Sedition by Italian studio and production company fuse* was inspired by the multiverse theory that presumes the existence of an infinite number of universes that coexist simultaneously outside of our space-time. During this process of generation of new universes, the free parameters of the physical laws are reprocessed and slightly changed. This fascinating collection exposes a moment in time with a particular set of parameters that also symbolise the uniqueness of our existence. Using sound design, light, darkness and motion, Evolutionary Cosmos presents a compelling series of audiovisual artworks that explore the interplay of science, sound and art.
Berlin-based Andreas Nicolas Fischer, is an artist whose work is concerned with the physical manifestation of digital processes and data through generative systems. Through his practice he investigates the effects of technology and automation on society and contemporary art. In his V0ID 2K18 series, Fischer worked with an algorithm to produce computer-generated artworks, thus exploring the potential of art as a means of testing and potentially achieving algorithmic independence.
The works of the VOID 2K18 series play with elements of colour, pattern, and surface. Manipulating the illusion of the picture plane within his compositions, Fischer aligns his work with the experiments of Bauhaus innovator Lázló Moholy-Nagy in the 1940s and artistic polyglot John Cage in the 1960s, both of whom did away with the traditional solidity of the canvas or panel surface by working instead on acrylic. In an update to that tradition, Fischer and his algorithm reveal a deep dimensionality that is seemingly never-ending. This eternal quality reveals an intriguing contemplation on Fischer's part in terms of the role of the artist and his or her authority in the creation of new work.