Project 4: Generative Form – Looking Outwards

by Asa Foster @ 11:14 am 28 February 2011

When you see an idea you’ve been playing with executed by someone else (who happens to absolutely nail it), it’s always pretty satisfying. Such a project is Andy Huntington and Drew Allan’s Cylinder, which is a set of digitally fabricated physical representations of sound input. Having wanted to do some sort of buildable model based on music for some time now, it’s really nice to see these guys pull it off with some seriously nice looking objects. (via generator.x)

Another similar physical realization of sound is Daniel Widrig and Shajay Booshan’s Binaural Object. This, in my opinion, is a little less visually stunning than Cylinder, but still maintains the same spiky qualities and looks great. Reminds me of the blood slides from Dexter.

Mark Shuster – Looking Outwards 7

by mshuster @ 8:36 am

Surface detail from subBlue on Vimeo.

Surface detail is an incredible, elaborate, 3D generative fractal art piece set to music. The surface of the sphere constantly deforms into new and exotic textures.

jparsons – LookingOutwards – 4 – Generative Form

by Jordan Parsons @ 7:55 am

“Marc Fornes is a registered “Architecte DPLG” mixed with an internationally recognized connoisseur in applied computer science. Hidden under his long time trademark – THEVERYMANY™ / – he is engaging the field of architecture via what he qualifies “Explicit and Encoded” protocols of design.”


“digital tectonics : robotic fabrication | Taught within the School of Architecture, with the dFab playing the role as classroom, Associate Professor Jeremy Ficca began teaching a group of students enrolled in a new course. The course was titled- ‘Digital Tectonics : Robotic Fabrication’. A course never held at CMU, and the first of it’s kind, this course aimed to teach how the newest addition to the dFab, a CNC Robotic Mill with a Rotary Table; could be utilized within Architecture.

As the course started, students were trained in MasterCam X5; they were taught how to use the 3 Axis Mill first- and then made their way onto the Robotic Mill and RobotMaster. Midway through the course, Jeremy Ficca assisted in constructing a mini-symposium with speakers who utilize robots, for Digital Fabrication in Architecture. (Digital Tectonics : Robotic Fabrication mini-symposium) Inspired by what they had seen, students began creating ideas, researching, and testing.

Months later, the course ended- the wall unfinished. What seemed like such a simple undertaking, proved to be tough in large numbers. In the beginning of Spring, over 150 blocks, 300 files, and hours of mixing, pouring and breaking plaster molds- the wall was finished and displayed in the College of Fine Arts at CMU.

The project served as a perfect example of what Digital Tools and Software could create given time and resources. Students utilized Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper, MasterCam X5, RobotMaster and an ABB 4400 Robotic Milling Cell to design and fabricate their creation. “

Maya Irvine – Project 4 – LookingOutwards

by mirvine @ 6:36 am

1. Make A Snowflake Yours

Created by Karsten Schmidtan, this application built in processing uses your name to generate a unique snowflake pattern with you can print, cut out, and stick together. I like the idea of generating user-specific outcomes, were the variable is the person, not some other factor. It makes a program personal, and meaningful. I also like that this process somewhat mimics one that can be found in nature, and there is user involvement in constructing the final product. Plus it’s just pretty.

2.These are Patterns

Roberto aka m8roberto created a small newspaper featuring 12 different patterns created using Processing.The small newspaper has 12 patterns generated using a simple processing sketch that exploits repetition and randomness to produce a variety of effects using a limited set of line types.

I really love the simplicity of this project. Patterns, made of lines, in processing, that totally reinterprets the way we view a familiar artifact like a newspaper.

3.Circuit Explorations

“Circuit Explorations” addresses the questions if any system has the potential to show emergent behavior as long as it follows the guidelines for emergence we learned from studying examples of nature and if the emergence of complex behavior can be made to appear by carefully tuning a systems parameter and setup.

I really like the idea that a system for graphics can be found anywhere, even in apparent caos.

John Horstman – Generative: Looking Outwards

by jhorstma @ 1:48 am

1) Clavilux 2000: Generative Music Visualization Composition, by Jonas Heuer

Great combination of interactivity and visuals here. I love the way the visuals build as the song unfolds; not only is in interested to watch the piece in action, but the static image that has been constructed by the end of the song acts as visual fingerprint.  Not sure how the colors are being chosen – it would be nice to find out that they were the result of some logic in the program, though it appears to me that they were selected for purely aesthetic purposes.


2) Poetry on the Road 2008 poster, by Boris Müller

Since 2002, Müller has been commissioned to create posters for the Poetry on the Road festival.  While the 2008 poster is more of a data visualization, the interactive demo is generative because a user can type in words to create new visuals.  The poster design was created as a comparison of words between different poems, with word frequency and word length determining sorting order and line width respectively.  I appreciate the simplicity of this work, as I don’t expect it took a very complex algorithm to build, though I admit that I initially had a hard time figuring out how the lines were constructed.


3) (n)arcissus, by

What I like about (n)arcissus is that it’s a computational algorithm made manifest, rather than a digital image or sound that resides in a computer.  The creators were able to change the parameters of their generative algorithm to change certain properties of the final product without sacrificing structural integrity.  The resulting construction is simultaneously mechanical and organic, repetitive on a small scale but unique as a whole.  The scale of the piece allows the audience to appreciate the detail: it’s a multi-story installation at the Frankfurter Kunstverein museum.

Looking outwards: simulate / generate – Mauricio Giraldo

by Mauricio @ 1:25 am


Most video games a re set in some kind of world. This world needs to be created: roads are laid out, buildings designed, characters animated and scripted to inhabit these spaces and every one of them needs to be textured and lit (very brief description). The Subversion procedural city generator and simulator (not to be confused with the file version control system), started in 2006 by Introversion, is a project that aims to generate a complete world by itself. It is difficult to summarize what it aims to do:

These screenshots represent the first weeks work in writing a procedural City Generator. Just a few incredibly simple rules govern the growth of roads in these prototypes. By making small changes to those rules, you can vastly change the result. Encouraging roads to run North-South or East-West results in Manhattan style street grids, whereas encouraging roads to circle population centres results in lovely radial street patterns. These are obviously very early prototype shots but I wanted to show the incredible power (and beauty) of procedurally generated content, even at this early stage.

We now have a system that can generate a complete city from the satellite view down to individual buildings, and you can step in at any stage of development and add your own customisations, or you can just let everything generate itself randomly. You can create huge volumes of content extremely quickly, by layering generator on top of generator on top of generator. Each step of generation feeds into the next, producing incredible levels of complexity.

It’s been a few months since Introversion last posted information on their blog but apparently they are still developing it.

Check out this amazing video generating a whole city on the fly including building interiors. Here’s another video showing the simulation/interaction elements.

77 million paintings

A project by Brian Eno exploring different ideas about the uniqueness of art and the role of the observer in its interpretation.

Conceived by Eno as ‘visual music’, 77 Million Paintings is a constantly evolving sound and image-scape born from his continuous exploration into light as an artist’s medium and the aesthetic possibilities of generative software.
He first created 77 Million Paintings to bring art to the increasing number of flat panel TV’s and monitors that often sit darkened and underutilized. 77 Million is now showing large installations of this work, using multiple-monitor configurations in galleries around the world.


Project by Mary Huang combining face recognition with generative type design. This project combines elements which interest me very much: typography, generative software, customization and fun.

LeWei-LookingOutwards-Generative Art

by Le Wei @ 12:51 am


Stanza is an artist who makes a lot of generative art from a variety of sources. This one is from his automaton series. I like this one the most out of his work because I feel that a lot of generative art looks really messy and unorganized despite all the rigorous math and computation that goes into him, but this series seems very crisp and like there is a clear structure behind it. In general, I like the use of color in his art, though this piece is not a prime example.



I can’t get a picture to upload, but here is a project created by this guy that just generates a bunch of bezier curves that look really elegant and smooth. Kind of mesmerizing to watch, although I wish there were some color variation.

Klaus Sutner

The Farey sequence and Ford circles.

Iterating riffle shuffle.

One of my professors really enjoys visualizations of complex theoretical computer science concepts. Admittedly, they aren’t the prettiest because his goal is more to show the pattern than to make a work of art. But they are very very technical, and it’s pretty impressive to see these abstract concepts described in images. He has a gallery of these images here.

Looking Outwards- Nisha Kurani- Project 4

by nkurani @ 12:43 am

1. Surface Detail by Kathy Kavan

This is a generative piece by Kathy Kavan that displays a myriad of details in an evolving fractal landscape. It seems cool, and I found it very inspiring. I love the way she chose to display it. The music selection made it really dramatic.

2. Varios Works by Sergio Albiac

This is my favorite piece by Sergio Albiac. I’ve realized that I am a huge fan of his. I really like how he chose to display the faces in a very modern, artistic way. The colors were a nice touch.

Although this piece is really creepy. I found it very intriguing. I like the way he chose to display the faces in a web-like fashion. It was very cool and different.

This was a very interesting piece. I found that he had a tone of irony in this piece. It inspired me to look for a deeper, more poetic meaning when I create my generative piece.

3. Grid Distortions by Marius Watz

This is an interesting series of generative art created by Marius Watz. I found it pretty cool and achievable with the skill sets I have acquired in this class.

Ben Gotow-Looking Outwards (Generative Art)

by Ben Gotow @ 12:38 am

I’m a huge fan of Dave Bollinger’s work “Density” ( He does a mix of generative art and traditional art, and he blends computer programming with traditional mediums. He’s done some generative works that are in a wood block style, and I think they look pretty cool. Unfortunately, he doesn’t document his process very much.

There’s a service online called DNA11 ( that produces generative art from DNA. You submit a small DNA sample, and they run a PCR of it, colorize it, and enlarge it onto a large canvas. I think it’s a really cool form of generative art because it’s completely personalized.

I think it’d be fun to use this assignment to create an art piece I can hang in my apartment (my walls are looking pretty bare right now…) so I’ve been focusing on generative art that creates static images. I found the work of Marius Watz pretty interesting because he uses code to produce large wall-sized artworks that are visually intriguing and have a lot of originality from piece to piece, while retaining a sense of unity among the set. You can browse the collection of final images here:

Caitlin Boyle :: Looking Outwards Generative

by Caitlin Boyle @ 12:20 am

The Snail on the Slope is a generative animation inspired by a book by the same title.
The animation deals with a set of ‘humans’ trying to conquer a “forest” that fights back against them- it was made in Processing, and it’s actually quite beautiful. I love the faded aesthetic it begins to take on

Joshua Davis created Reflect

an iPhone app that allows the user to generate a kaledioscope image. The images do not move, which is a pity; I kind of wish it gave you an animation to watch after you pick your 10 shapes and 6 colors, but the stills are rewarding in their own way. It’s interesting to note that Davis creates images just like these as a part of his artistic practice, and in giving others the tools to follow in his footsteps, he both invites people into his creative process and stirs up all sorts of issues about ownership. Is every image generated with his tool his, even if others use it? Is the creator of the tool always the original creator? Questions, questions.

I know this was shown in class, but I absolutely adore the collective Nervous System. I would kill to be able to do something similar; turn algorithms from nature/everyday life into wearable/touchable objects. The jewelry especially does a wonderful job bringing the fragility of the original form along for the ride, but by turning it into a precious metal it transforms the intent of the object- and the function- and the meaning.




shawn sims-lookingOutwards-10

by Shawn Sims @ 11:41 pm 27 February 2011

On the topic of big robots and generative art…Federico Diaz: Geometric Death Frequency-141-spot is an amazing use of technology for the production of generative form. Read the FastCo article here.


by James Mulholland @ 11:40 pm

1. Cymatics

Robert Hodgin has done a few things to simulate a cymatic ferro-fluid using Cinder.

Ferro-fluids are gorgeous, but I’m actually more interested in the Cymatic part: Cymatics is field studying the physical effects sound/vibrations on physical form. I have been fascinated by this TED talk on Cymatics for quite some time:

In the video they take dolphin sounds and give them visual, 2D form. Giving sound physical form would be an interesting next step. Also the idea of reverse engineering sound from a form is mindblowing.

2. Joshua Davis

My first exposure to computational design, I saw Josh speak at a conference in 2008. My favorite story from his talk was his example of a piece he printed live at MoMA. He was progressively printing renderings of generative code in multiple variations throughout the day, sitting next to a digital printer and hanging the pieces up as they came out (without viewing the result after running the code). People asked, “what are you printing?…” he says “I don’t know!”

3. Illuminations B

3d using openGL and Processing.


Getting Started with Generative Art

Bruce Sterling on Generative Art
“Here’s a three-part video-lecture by Bruce Sterling on the subject of “generative art” — art that is created by a process that is in turn created by an artist. These are the artistic progeny of the spirograph and the kaleidoscope, and Bruce has an acerbic, thoughtful and skeptical approach to the subject.”



shawn sims-lookingOutwards-9

by Shawn Sims @ 11:25 pm

Last week I took place in a Workshop called Interactive Parametrics. The premise was to look at strategies for parametric modeling using Processing, outputting MakerBot-ready models as STL files and printing them on site. The workshop was led by Marius Watz, StudioMode, and Bre Pettis of MakerBot. It was a great workshop and got me very excited about the potentials for outputting 3d-printable objects right from code, skipping the typical workflow of 3d modeling in rhino, maya, or 3dMax.

Check out more photos from the workshop here

shawn sims-lookingOutwards-8

by Shawn Sims @ 11:09 pm

This is a great example of how a generative algorithm set designed for reaction+diffusion can be used in an interactive installation. There are some very interesting possibilities when these visuals could be mapped onto people+buildings+spaces with projection mapping.

Below is text from Brian Knep…

Six-channel interactive video installation;
computer, six video projectors, three video cameras, custom software, vinyl floor.

Healing Pool uses custom algorithms, cameras, and overlapping, high-definition projectors to create a seamless, glowing pool of organic patterns on the floor. The patterns are generated with a mathematical model first used by scientist to simulate firing patterns of brain neurons and later used to explore other visual and temporal forms found in nature.

Left alone, the patterns slowly pulsate and shift over the course of each day. When a person walks across the piece the patterns tear apart and rebuild themselves, but never exactly as before. The change is similar to a scar left behind when a wound heals. Thus the pool holds a history, or memory, of all the interactions that have occurred since the piece was first turned on.

Like the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, this project serves as a type of memorial, a constantly evolving record of change that honors the minuscule ways in which the slightest interactions—no matter how small or unintentional—have some impact. It is also an examination of how each person is, like the pool, a manifestation of everything that came before.


by Samia @ 10:23 pm



I liked this project, simply because it was a beautiful physical version of a generative piece of art. I think there is something in tangible forms that I respond to, over digital counterparts.

Alex Wolfe | Project 4 | Looking Outwards

by Alex Wolfe @ 10:18 pm


silk is a generative artwork by Yuri Vishnevsky.  The shape is rendered from a simple curve the user can draw on the screen. The direction of the wind can also be adjusted to create various shapes. There’s not much conceptual backing to it, but the final effect can be quite visually stunning

Iris Van Herpen

Iris Van Herpen in collaboration with architect Daniel Widrig create heartbreakingly intricate and fluid forms that are 3D printed to fit individual models that were shown at Paris fashion week. It must cost a small fortune and your first born child to manufacture, but totally worth it.


Continuum, a project developed by Mary Huang, is actually an extremely slick application built in processing. With it, the user can trace primitive forms onto a mannequin that are transformed into a pattern for a dress. Exploring the concept of accessible couture, Continuum successfully lets users create their own dress while maintaining a distinctive and recognizable style that is the essence of what a cohesive fashion line is about. More info here

Michael HansMeyer – Computational Architecture

created by iterating a subdivision algorithm over and over again and then fabricating it out of cardboard. It looks like extremely thin layers are laser cut and stacked in order to create these ridiculously intricate columns.

Sandra Backlund Knitwear

okay so this isn’t exactly generative yet, but knitwear actually would be a great outlet for generative works. Since its simply a serious of a numbers and certain pattern instructions, (often sent to a machine), its a much better outlet for generating one seamless piece than creating patterns for fabric, that often are simply geometric. Sandra Backlund creates beautiful additive pieces, though is very closed mouth about her actual process

Eric Brockmeyer – Looking Outwards 4

by eric.brockmeyer @ 10:06 pm

.MGX is a company which designs and fabricates various objects, fixtures, and furnishings using 3d printers. The objects are designed using genetic algorithms and the results are stunning. An important note is that materialise and .MGX have embraced the concept of mass customization and unique design. They were early adopters of this technology and idealogy and have amazing results.

Sabin+Jones Lab Studio is a group of designers and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Sabin is a designer and Jones a biologist. They support each others’ research with skills in complex 3d modeling and genetic algorithms.

Subblue is a site made by physicist Tom Beddard. Tom programs exceptional visually stimulating programs and includes source code on his site when possible.

Susan Lin – Looking Outwards – 6: Generative Project Inspiration

by susanlin @ 9:35 pm

Seed Drawings are drawings created by mechanical turkers which simulate one which a program could simulate.

Box Car 2D is a fun app which generates car using randomly chosen vectors (body) and circles (wheels) which are given random velocities. The program throws away cars that do poorly (do not finish the track or finish slowly) and throws out the data. Using that, eventually, the program creates increasingly better cars.

This is a fun app to watch for a few minutes due to the sheer ridiculousness of some of the cars. Sometimes, funny shaped cars work surprisingly well (didn’t catch a screenshot, but we saw  one wheeler with a huge wheel carry its tiny body to the finish line). Some are more sensible, especially toward the end of each run (shaped like motorcycles).

The author also has some nice write-ups explaining the algorithm and best cars.

This is a bit old, but was a project done by 2 friends for tigsource’s procedurally generated level contest. The simplicity and polish makes for a great game. The player does tricks on a sine wave which is randomly generated.

For my own project, I am also interested in creating a game of some sort.

Every game which was created for the mentioned contest is listed here.

Another one I liked from this contest was Dyson. In that game, you plant seeds on planets and try to maintain dominance from actually somewhat intelligent NPCs.


One more, Minus is less complex, but charming in its style and tranquility. As a bunny, you just keep jumping into the clouds (procedurally generated) and see how high you can get. It’s similar to iPhone game, Doodle Jump.

Dane Pieri – Looking Outwards

by dpieri @ 9:22 pm


Mimodek is a system that grows and evolves based on natural principals and stimuli from its environment. It is a site specific instillation in that the end product is dictated by conditions around it and the actions of people who view it.

At the end of an exhibit it produces a unique organism.

Tron Strategy Evolution

This program visualizes random random walks in Tron. A walk starts at a random place on the board, and goes in random directions until it hits its own or another walk’s paths, tron style.

This one is different though because with each round it learns from the successful and unsuccessful walks from the last one and slowly evolves a strategy.
Here is the video on Vimeo:

The first round looked like this:

And by the end this is the strategy that emerged:

Looking Outwards: Generative/Simulation Art

by shoosein @ 8:32 pm

1) Twoetwy. I was actually at the Global Game Jam where this was made by folks from Schell Games, but unfortunately I never got a chance to playtest it. But the concept of creating poetry by collecting words from peoples’ Twitter tweets is pretty cool.

More info at

2) 30 Second Life–a CMU student and Game Creation Society member created this for the biweekly contests. Press a bunch of keyboard keys to work, and depending on how much work you do at any phase determines what your next career will be. There are a ton of career paths, and you can be anything from a drug dealer to the Pope. Might be stretching the simulation category a bit, but it’s still a masterpiece on par with a lot of other artistic games out there.

Download: Game, Editor, Source.

3) Minecraft. A world where everything is made out of blocks of material. Build things by mining and combining materials. The things people have managed to make are amazing. Like a working subway station. Or an animal cannon:

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