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Use of software in the arts can be separated into two categories: production and conception. In the first, the computer is used to produce a preconceived form; in the second, the computer participates in the development of the form.

Using a computer to reduce the amount of time needed to create a complex, repetitive composition was often the motivation for early adoption of software into creative process. EG. in the field of animation where subtle changes had to be repeated thousands times. It is efficient way of facilitating the creative process by enabling mroe time for exploration and less time for final production.


The desire to construct a system for composing images, rather than making a single image, has a long history in modern art. Marcel Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages from 1913-1914 is an early and fascinating example. (other names: Experimental writers Tristan Tzara and William S. Burroughs, Musician John Cage)

While it’s clear that these early compositional systems relied heavily on chance, these artworks are important within the context of parameters in that each of their creators defined a set rules where some elements were selected by themselves and others resulted from events outside of their control. They invented systems from which an infinite number of unique works could (and did) emerge. This way of working is summarized well by Sol LeWitt’s statement:”The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”(Alexander Alberro an Blake Stimson, eds., Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology


egs: The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris


Is modelling the natural world with precision the ultimate goal of software simulation? In some situations, the answer is a definite yes; for example, scientific weather and traffic simulations are only useful when they are realistic. Within other domains, such as design, architecture, and art, high fidelity is less important than the final experience. Bending the rules can create something unexpected and sublime. Simulation can be a precise tool, but also a foundation for something beyond.

Every simulation has three parts: variables, a system, and a state.

The ability to simulate physics has had a substantial impact on architecture and engineering. These tools allow engineers to simulate how forces and loads move through virtual structures. Based on the outcome, the model is modified and the simulation is run again until an optimal combination of structure and material is found. (e.g. CCTV Tower (David Owen, “The Anti-Gravity Men,” The New Yorker))


Perhaps the most famous piece of creative software is Harold Cohen’s AARON>


Karl Sims’ Evolved Virtual Creatures, created in 1994, was a breakthrough in a-life. The project is so convincing that it remains relevant over fifteen years later. Through software, Sims was able to simulate the evolution of creatures to perform different tasks, such as swimming, walking, jumping, and following. Eventually he added the ability for two creatures to compete against one another to control possession of a cube. He did this by simulating the basic physical properties of gravity, friction, and collision, and then building creatures that could evolve at amazingly fast rates through cross breeding and mutation. The genotype of his creatures is a directed graph, and the phenotype is a hierarchy of 3-D parts. At each generation, some creatures were allowed to survive and reproduce based on their fitness, how well they performed the current task. For example, how well did they swim, walk, jump, or follow? To communicate the results, Sims produced an appealing series of short animations that featured the creatures in action. The most fascinating aspect of the project was the diversity of strategies the creatures developed to meet their goals. Despite the primitive geometry and limited joints, they had the essence of living, self-motivated animals.

Other eg: NASA X-band antenna. NASA claims the generated designs have potential to outperform those designed by expert engineers. Additionally, the generated antennae often have radically different forms compared to those designed by hand. In general, GAs have the potential to find unique forms that more traditional design approaches overlook.

GAs and evolutionary thinking have played an important role in contemporary architectural theory and practice. John Frazer’s 1995 book An Evolutionary Architecture presents the genetic algorithm as a technique for creating novel forms that bridge the form-function divide. Theorist Karl Chu has explored the intersection of computer and genetic code as an avenue for exploring possible futures.


Cellular Automata (e.g.s Stephen Wolfram)


Unnatural Selection: Designer as a gardener, choosing favourite specimens and culling weeds to encourage the system to grow in a desired direction. (e.g Evolutionary Computation by moh architects, Strandbeest by Theo Jansen)




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