Archives for the Month of January, 2005



Genplant is a great little Flash application that allows you to be a computation geneticist. Splice together genetic material from different species of plants and discover some beautiful triffids, orchids and buttercups!

This made me remember Uncontrol’s piece, Flora – an experiment in growing plant forms



Since there’s been some of it landing from the sky recently in England lets talk about snow and particularly snowflakes. Whilst browsing John Maeda’s Simplicity blog I came across an entry on the snowflake-a-thon, an idea Maeda had incubating for some time. The rules for this competition were simple – ‘Create the simplest program that generates the most beautiful snowflake’. The winner, Hugo Liu, came up with a particularly ingenious concept!

Snowflakes could be the patron saint of dataisnature, displaying natures way of exacting beautiful mathematical symmetry and precision. Here are some more snowflakes and snowflake generators :

Nthd’s snowflake generator takes a simple message and wraps it into a series of random snowflake shapes based on the basic hexagonal morphology of a snow crystal.

Softarchitecture takes a splendid interactive approach

Fractal Snowflake Generator is small freeware utility for creating fractal snowflakes, patterns and backgrounds.

Finally my favourite right now is Zefranks 3-d visualisation!

While you’re viewing these why not listen to ‘Snowflake Vectors’ from ‘The center cannot hold’ ep by Digitonal!

oh and for more flockenphillia go here

Time based geometric abstraction

Style Study – Paul Brown

Check out 4^16 , a prototype time-based abstraction made with Director – its a current work in progress by Paul Brown. Time based works like these lend themselves well to sequences of prints too!

Elsewhere at Paul’s site there are some interesting articles relating to the history of the field. ‘The idea becomes a machine – AI and Alife in Early British Computer Art’ describes some of the details of an almost forgotten period of computational and robotic art experimentation at the Slade school of Art’s Experimental and Computing Dept. ‘Emergent culture’ investigates the consequence of the intrinsic embedding of metaphors in tech art and beyond. Great stuff!


P-050_R Manfred Mohr

Scratchcode is an exhibition of historic computational works from the 1950s-1970’s and includes plotter drawings, prints, sculptures and films from some of the early pioneers of the era. The frequency at which the community seems to be looking back at the early history of computer/machine art is increasing; it’s a fascinating period of futuristic computational creations that contains a heritage and tradition that has since broke into the ever complex taxonomy of the computer art of today. If I were anywhere near New York I would definitely love to see this exhibtion.

The title Scratchcode, incidentally, has been taken from a sequence of works completed around 1970 by Manfred Mohr.

’With a choice of different line characteristics, an alphabet of arbitrary generated elements is created. Individual algorithms are invented for each work from which all forms and structures are solely generated. The algorithms are built from imposed as well as from random selection principles which Mohr calls “aesthetical-filters”.

Calculated Cinema

Calculated Movements Larry Cuba

Calculated Cinema is a short but informative historical primer and exploration of the use of computers and technology in experimental and abstract film. From what I can tell the essay was written to compliment a program of experimental films mapping the entire history of the genre. I’m not sure when this programme was shown but in contains references to film makers I’ve not come across before against ones I adore, like Oskar Fischinger and Robert Darroll – so I can feel a research moment coming on.



Check out Dearcomputer for some minimal generative screen paintings. A times the pieces remind us of the larger minimal abstract colourfield paintings of the 50s and then the geometric optical abstractions of the 60’s. Some contain glitchey blotches of compression algorithm artefacts, others remind us of faded circuit schematics.

ANS Syntheszier – Drawing sound

ANS Syntheszier

This months WIRE magazine has a review of COILANS the last album Coil completed before jhonn’s untimely death in November of last year. All compositions were performed on the Soviet ANS synthesiser – a very special kind of musical instrument. E. Murzin, its inventer, called the ANS “a photo electronic optical synthesizer of soundâ€?. It is based on a photo electronic device allowing the music to be drawn onto a special plate.

‘The photo electronic principle of synthesis, used by E. Murzin, implies the graphic imaging of soundings on a special plate, covered by a solid layer of black colour, which he has very exactly called “the scoreâ€? Before the composer is a row of levers, on the end of each one of which is a chisel. In the necessary places the colour can be removed (with the chisels), and then one can create a system of breaks in a definite configuration: a richer sound requires drawing a line (instead of a point), and a chord required putting several points in different places. Working this way, breaks, points and lines serve to create a regulation of the brightness of light rays, directed onto photo elements through rotating discs – frequency modulators. Due to this effect of light there appears electric current, which was later transformed into real current. “The Scoreâ€? also played a role as operative memory, letting the composer make various changes in the character of created sound signals, i.e. to correct the sound picture in accordance with the author’s ideas.’

The ANS remains a unique apparatus available to only a limited circle of musicians: the single experimental model of the device in existence currently belongs to Moscow State University. Although the ANS has not achieved widespread fame, the idea of directly transforming graphic structures into sound structures has not lost its relevance and can now be used successfully in computer music.

selected ANS links :

The ANS synthesizer – Composing on a Photoelectronic Instrumernt, Stanislav Kreichi

Electroacoustic Music Volume IV: Archive Tapes Synthesizer ANS 1964 – 1971.

Image of and entry on ANS from the Musuem of Soviet Synthesziers

‘Electricity has truly made angels of us all’- Coil