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Posted by David - October 15, 2006 - 18:55

Whorls upon Worlds (in three sentences)

or: A reductionist summary of the artistic aims of this project

The themes that inspired us and the ideas that came out of subsequent discussions are quite numerous, so to even try to fit them into three sentences I'm going to start by breaking the project into three major artistic components:

  1. human action and reaction: interaction/observation is made identical within this system: the fisherman gazes into the sardine can and the can gazes back into the fishman, changing both -- Heisenberg's uncertainty principle? + something about kinetic intuition

  2. generative art: how is it an art which is different than evolution/physics/geology (or any other natural generative process), aside from human construction -- possible theological implications? natural aesthetics?

  3. media output: the process of using a meta-brush (the abstract rules and laws of how the "brush" is to be used rather than direct "painting"); how much of the art-piece is from our parameters versus the generative system versus the participant? - "art as a process of interaction between the viewer and art-piece", not just a static art-object

  4. (then there is the matter of what is going on in the human subject's head, but this ruins my three-point format, so we'll leave that to them and hope to cover this section by the overflow into points 1 and 3)

I actually don't feel like making those into coherant sentences tonight, so I won't. The ideas are there.

To bring up the other three sentences and a point I keep coming back to in my thought: A lot is being made of the (stereotypical) qualities of natural science in relation/opposition to Art, but shouldn't the subject be computer science? I admit limited knowledge of the subject, but doesn't computer science have much akin to 'pure math', engineering, and art, more than natural science? It's a very different beast than the empirical natural sciences that everyone talks about when the word "science" comes up, the two should not be equivocated.

And to bring up Andrew's thoughts: I don't think that he and I come from such different worlds. The art students who entered this program (mostly) have an interest and ability with computer science, and the compsci students all have an interest and ability with art (and maybe they must, by definition, as I said in the above paragraph), but we are asked to oppose and distinguish our specialities. Maybe I'm speaking in terms which are too strong; positing a duality between Art and Science is a necessary dialectic step in approaching the issues brought up by this program. Maybe we've just got to all talk about it more.

Posted by Andrew - October 14, 2006 - 23:41

"Where's the Science, Bub?"

We've been asked to prepare about three sentences, each, addressing "where's the science?" and "where's the art?". That excercise seems a bit contrived to me, in our case -- I really think David and I come at things more from the same side than from radically different perspectives. I imagine maybe Helen and Dave experience similar reaction.

Attempting to address the "science side": We can only ask, "what does it mean, specifically, to most scientists, when we say `scientific'?".
  • Is it enough just to find something mensurable (quantifiable)?
  • Does it also need to be reproducible?
  • Need we have a motive for studying a particular measurable?
The total experience of a system+participants session is nondeterministic by nature and by design. However, certain statistical behaviours can be systematically elicited, at least frequently if not dependably -- we could quantify those qualities, and measure them reproducibly.

If we measured physical human gestures, as sensed by the camera(s), we would also know quite concretely what our numbers meant, especially if our model was "anatomical". If we measured agent coalition dynamics, it might be hard to ascribe meaning to the numbers, since agents partake of the unknown -- perhaps of the unknowable, if chaos is implicated ...

It is theece very ambiguities that verge into artistic zones, since the participant who is selectively-guiding the evolution depends very much on sensible feedback in order to feel engaged, which is a prerequisite (if not a synonym) for intentional. And, as we mention in our Proposal, we are trying to incur a study on empirical intentionality.

Posted by Andrew - October 11, 2006 - 13:23

Generative Art

In the IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications (60th anniversity special issue), Gary Singh in talking about the cover quotes from Philip Galanter as describing generative art as
[referring] to any art pracise where the artist uses a system, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention which is then set into motion with some degree of autonomy to or resulting in a complex work of art.
I think this designation (among others) applies to our project.

Also, Mary Scott has reminded us that a local artist, Arlene Stamp, has been developing a generative art system in collaboration with Tobias Isenberg (from our own Interactions Lab), which you can play with (requires Java).

Posted by David - October 3, 2006 - 15:35

First post! And some G.E.B.

To start this off let's have a quote from "Godel, Escher, Bach" (henceforth, for my sanity, GEB):

[This book] approaches these question by slowly building up and analogy that likens inanimate molecules to meaningless symbols, and further likens selves (or "I"'s or "souls", if you prefer - whatever it is that distinguishes animate from inanimate matter) to certain special swirly, twisty, vortex-like, and meaningful patterns that arise only in particular types of systems of meaningless symbols. It is these strange twisty patterns that the book spends so much time on, because they are little known, little appreciated, counterintuitive, and quite filled with mystery.

And to quote the header of a section on the facing page: "Meaningless Symbols Acquire Meaning Despite Themselves"

This idea is not quite the essence of our project, but I think it is essential to it.

I hope this web-log can be a record of not only what we're doing as we're doing it, but also our thoughts and ruminations, if you will, that come up as we make this thing happen. (And it'll certainly generate lots of great filler for our final paper!)

And here's that concept art of our project in action.

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