Algorithmic Art

I’ve been working on some algorithmic art lately — that is, art generated by a computer. In other words: based on my initial input, the computer paints a picture. For instance, I might feed a bunch of numbers into a mathematical formula and then those resulting coordinates get connected with colored lines.

Pure randomness isn’t satisfying by the way — it’s just noise. You need patterns and a graduated flow. Abrupt changes don’t work, satisfying art requires transitions. Yes, splashes of color can work, but such boldness must blend itself into the mix somehow — perhaps as contrast to a simple background.

So what? Well, if life is a simulation (which it is), then the flow of life will be graduated and filled with patterns that are ushered in with transitions. Think of music: it’s not a monotonous note nor is it a random string of tones, there are graduated scales and patterns that progressively transform.

In computer-generated art, the trick is finding an algorithm that produces interesting output. Just filling in a formula is predictable and boring, you need to add some randomness. So yes, the unexpected is a necessity — but it can’t be the only component. Randomness needs to be woven into a pattern.

Stories are like this too. Narratives aren’t random happenings strung together — there are plots and progressions as characters with distinct personalities fade in and out. But all along the way there are surprises here and there — yet nothing too abrupt or outlandish, nothing beyond the boundaries that the narrative sets forth.

By its nature, there most certainly is an ebb and flow to life, a pattern punctuated by the unexpected — events rising and falling on a graduated spectrum. But what do you do with this knowledge? Appreciate it for what it is: art. It is these very aspects that we find appealing in every other medium — life itself is no different.

Enjoyment of art is modulated by the seriousness we apply to it. Take it too seriously, and you stifle it. Approach it too frivolously and it has no impact, no significance, it barely registers. Therefore, you must approach it with lighthearted appreciation — interested enough to explore and examine, but not to the point of stressing-out over it.