Archives for the Month of October, 2008

Talk @ Playgrounds AV Festival


The 2-day Playgrounds Festival of Audio Visuals Arts begins on Thursday 30th Oct in Tilburg, Holland. The yearly festival is featuring such notables as Tokyoplastic, the animation crew who came to fame with the perfectly syncopated Drum Machine, Eyesupply, the Resolume championing VJ collective and OnedotZero, the DVD label promoting progressive moving image and experimental animation. The program included lectures, workshops, screenings and live music.

I’ll be winging my way over to Tilburg to talk about my generative work and artistic practice.

Flickr Fruits 19#

Rotation7 – Don Relyea

The growing trend towards producing generative works that mimic human gestures continues. Whitecross has produced a fresh set of works that use Miró as a reference point, whilst combining a space filling splatter pattern.

Don Relyea has used a programmed slitscan technique to generate distorted multi-forms from simple primitives. The process has transformed squares and rectangles into delicious wildstyle graffiti

Capturevision’s Surface Dimensions set contains deformations, transformations and superformula reconstructions, many with tantalising complexity.

Fdecomite’s Olive Oil Circles are another great example of the aesthetics of immiscibility. The gradients appear more synthetic as the colours become more metallic. Elsewhere you can view his solution to George Harts (72) pencils sculpture puzzle.

Daniel Brown – On Growth and Form

Daniel Brown - Flowers Construction Kit
Daniel Brown – Flowers Construction Kit

Daniel Brown well known for his excellent work back in the days when Director was king of browserspace interactivity with his eclectic collection of interactive toys at the famous Noodlebox – now archived at his play-create site. Back then much of the web was composed of black pages with flickering stars, decorated with animated gifs of flames and luminescence text. Noodlebox was a major breath of fresh air.

Recently Daniel has uploaded images of his ‘Flowers Construction Kit’ where beautifully crafted AS3 plants and petals combine a touch of synthetic surrealism with succulent colours, symmetries and geometries. This kind of algorithmic botany has been appearing in Daniels work for quite sometime, check out the recent SAF project where the flowers are computationally nurtured in real-time. The ‘On growth and Form’ set documents his ‘non-commissioned’ flower projects from 1999 to the present, and it’s a real treat to the eye.

On Growth and Form, by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, is one of the first books ever published to tackle the subject of morphogenesis, the science of the formation of cells, tissues, shells, plants and other living organisms from a mathematical point of view.

‘The harmony of the world is made manifest in form and number, and the heart and soul and all the poetry of natural philosophy are embodied in the concept of mathematical beauty’ – D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson


Lia’s Spirographic Florals
Algorithmic Botany
Superformula 3D

Data != Nature [?]

I little note to the friendly readers of Dataisnature. This site may well be in a precarious position. The hosting company who I registered this domain with 4 years ago seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet leaving a poorly maintained, non-functional automated system for administration and billing. A little while back I noted I had some other domains/hosting with this company that needed to be renewed. The billing system would not allow me to renew the domains online, which resulted in numerous tickets being raised to rectify the problem. No reply. More tickets, many phones calls and still no contact. The result is that two of my domains have expired and I could do nothing but watch as they did. Allthough the Dataisnature domain is registered until 2009 unfortunately the hosting for Dataisnature is on the point of expiration.

It turns out that the company I’ve used in the UK are a reseller for domains and hosting from Enom based in the US. At this present time I’ve sent Enom a few mails to explain my predicament, who knows, fingers crossed. At the very least they might let me buy back my lapsed domains and give me access to domain transfer keys.

If this site disappears at any point know that I will do my best to get it back online as I’ve put a lot of work into it over the years and know from positive emails that many people use this site as a resource for research of their own.

As nothing is certain at present I’m going to choose to carry on posting regardless.


ps. If anyone has any ideas about how I can resolve this issue I’d be happy to know about them.

The Limits to Growth, feedback loops, computer herding & Timewave Zero

Mitchell Whitelaw
The Limits to Growth (details) – Mitchell Whitelaw

‘Computer herding’ is the term given to computer driven automated trading systems’ similar self-operation that produces a feedback loop of procedures creating a vicious cycle of share selling. From the late 70’s computational models for financial trading have become more prevalent, much of the problematic dealing that has occurred in the last few days has been done without human intervention. Computer herding is a classic example of self generated behaviour and recursion. The stocks go down, the computers automated response is to sell, thereby reducing values, and subsequently causing closed computational models to sell more shares, which reduces their values even more. Limitations of computer models explain this financial feedback loop in depth.

Mitchell Whitelaw uses the Eden Growth/Aggregation algorithm to produce a generative sentiment regarding these interesting times. The blog post regarding this work includes mention of The Limits to Growth, a report from 1972 on the economic implications of exponential growth. For generative works they appear decorative and free of rigidity often associated with algorithms, almost hand crafted. We also see them as ultra organic city plans with curly streets and spiralling pathways. You can check some similar outputs at Mitchell’s Flickr page.

As it becomes harder to escape the images of down sloping share index graphs I’m reminded of Terrence Mckenna’s Timewave Zero software, a graphing system to calibrate not share values, but ‘novelty’ against time. This pseudo-scientific treatise proposes, via graphing events in history, that we are more prone to excessive novelty (major events) at certain times, and there are other periods where not too much goes on at all. This makes sense since novelty creates more novelty.

‘The graph shows at what times, but never at what locations, novelty is increasing or decreasing. According to the timewave graph, great periods of novelty occurred about 4 billion years ago when Earth was formed, 65 million years ago when dinosaurs were extinct and mammals expanded, about 10,000 years ago after the end of the ice age, around late 18th century when social and scientific revolutions progressed, during the sixties, around the time of 9/11, and with coming novelty periods in November 2008, October 2010, with the novelty progressing towards the infinity on 21st December 2012’ – Wikipedia

I’ll leave you to speculate on the plausibility of this idea and research the possible outcomes of novelty progressing to infinity.

Procedural land-art, agricultural algorithms & walk recipes reversed

Jim Denevan & Robert Smithson
Drawing – Jim Denevan

At low tide Jim Denevan makes large-scale freehand drawings into sand, temporal earth-art works that are consumed by the next incoming tide. Particularly of interest are the rule-based works, where circle-packing and space-filling processes are employed.

‘After finding a good stick and composing himself in the near and far environment Jim draws – labouring up to 7 hours and walking as many as 30 miles’

Jim’s spiral drawing immediately reminded me of one of the most celebrated of all earth works, Robert Smithson’s, Spiral Jetty. While over the years there have been many appeals against environmental erosion of the Spiral Jetty, Smithson has, interestingly, maintained that entropy is essential part of the work.

Denevans drawings also reminded me of Richard Longs work, another land artist who’s most well know pieces were based around walks. Long incorporated natural sculpture, photography, text and maps of the landscape he walked over. His sculptures also used space-filling arrangements of natural slates, Midsummer Cirlces could be imagined as a natural data visualisation of the earth from which the slate was taken from, in accordance with it’s relative temporal heliocentricity.

Long also made artworks that were textural desciptions of aspects of his walks that he called Textworks, Watershed is a good example. Aside from having the kind of resonance you might encounter with a Haiku poem, the Textworks also seem to have a strong connection with Sol Lewitt’s procedural descriptions for making drawings.

“Twenty-one isometric cubes of varying sizes each with colour ink washes superimposed.” Description for a wall drawing, No. 766, Sol Lewitt.

klawein & Long.jpg
Soundscape – Mati Klawein



Richard Long

Lewitt’s drawing descriptions have more recently be accepted as a precursor to contemporary generative/software art and this is explored in depth by Casey Reas’s in his excellent essay on Software & Drawings. Lewitt’s ‘drawing poems’ are designed to generate artefacts, whereas Long’s ‘walk poems’ are documentary fragments or ‘recordings’. For the enthusiastic psychogeographic rambler there is no reason not to apply Long’s descriptions to generate walks in themselves, or even generate computational art for that matter. Long’s textworks are essentially scant recipes reversed.

crop circles & terracing
Pi Crop Circle

The most mathematically complex of all earth/land artworks are undoubtedly crop circles – rigorous algorithmic outputs of higher intelligent life forms, also known as humans. Here is a report of one of the most complex circles discovered recently in the British countryside.

Before we disembark it should be remembered that earth itself is a gigantic canvas for the algorithmic patterning processes caused by climatic systems, weathering, geological erosion, and other metamorphic programs that have been running for millions of years. More recently, humans arrived and brought along agricultural processes that have created unintentional procedural earthworks, take for example the sinuous steps created by terracing in paddy fields in much of Asia. Dataisnature favourite, Mati Klawein, produced a set of landscape paintings celebrating repetition found this kind landscape. If you’re interested in the aesthetics of farming formations, Your Next and Soundscape are certainly worthy of your time.

Helle Jorgensen – Cephlapods & Softwear.

helle jorgensen

The relationship between textiles and computers is explicit – the punched paper cards used to program early computers are direct descendents of similar cards used to program Jacquard looms during the height of the industrial revolution, More so terms like ‘interlaced’ (among other synonyms) which describe the way pixels are weaved onto the screen, only tighten this relationship.

Natureisdata is always happy to see complex non-Euclidean mathematical computation combined with textiles and handicraft. Helle Jorgensen has been a long time contributor to one of our favourite projects, the IFF’s Hyperbolic Crochet Reef, and its many different accumulations over the years. Gooseflesh is a blog of works in progress, completed creatures and associated inspiration combined in one repository. Byte sized wonders include Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Nature Study and Secret Strangeness of the Ocean.