Why am I playing with generative art?

Because of this. And because I'm a philistine.

Source: Gerhard Richter, 4900 Colours, #479

It is usually Richter's big smeary abstracts that grab my attention (like this one); I've only recently come across his series 4900 Colours and 1024 Farben. Unfortunately I have only encountered these online (this site has a great analysis of why I should seek one out in person); I think that is why I indulged myself in the response of the philistine: "Huh, I bet I could do that".

Long story short: even creating a small panel with smooth, well-executed, regular patches of color is beyond my abilities (good enough for my living room wall, though). A more immediate and positive effect is that this project got me into generative art.

How so? Well, before committing acrylic to board I wanted to get an idea of what the end product would look like. So why not prototype it? Sure, I could write a python script to knock something like this out, but I don't need to reinvent the wheel when tools like Processing and NodeBox already exist.

My first attempts with NodeBox were a bust. I liked the idea of playing with a GUI that allows you to build a network of nodes and edges that represent series of actions and the flow of their results, but in practice it was just too clunky and I was too impatient. "Why does this node have so many input connections? Why can't I right-click this edge? How the heck do I reseed the random number generator?".

So Processing it was. Processing comes in two flavors: Java and Python. I have been programming Python for years and I really wanted to like that version. But it is just not as mature and complete as the original Java. I guess it is time for me to brush up my Java.

These are early days in my exploration of generative art. I think I am going to kick off with a Richter simulator. Seems simple, right? I shall post images and code when I can.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.