Experimentation in Art & non-deterministic grammars

One of my favourite abstract painters is Richard Diebenkorn. Click here to see an Art Blog which has a post on his most famous Ocean Park Series. Click here for a link to a blog showing one of the Dibenkorn’s canvases in an NY apartment.

In these sorts of works it is fascinating how you can see a process of experimentation that resulted in the final canvas — tones of colour are covering earlier lines and colours, and the development of the composition is clearly shown as part of its completeness. The brushstrokes and decisions made by the artist are intuitive, and the artist works hard to push paint around until a pleasing result is achieved.

Here comes the maths.

I see a similar sort of system at work in computer-generated work showcased by the Context Free Art site (click here to visit their homepage). Just like an artist has their ‘style’, the grammar is always going to produce results in the same style but randomness plays an important part and in fact it is up to the user to decide which realization gives a pleasing result.

Here are some recent favourites from CFA:

What’s especially amazing is that often the size of the language description would give you no clue as to the complexity of the images it can generate.

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