TITLE: Computation and Art AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 30, 2004 8:06 AM DESC: Computing isn't about programs. It's a medium for expression that opens new avenues to us all. ----- BODY: For your daily reminder of what computation can do and the future of art might be like, check out Jared Tarbell's Gallery of Computation. The artwork generated by Tarbell's code is complex yet often quite alluring. So many artists use computation as medium these days that this site is "nothing new", but I was struck by the beauty of the images produced. I was also struck by the fact that all of the code for producing these works is available on-line:
I believe all code is dead unless executing within the computer. For this reason I distribute the source code of my programs in modifiable form to encourage life and spread love. Opening one's code is a beneficial practice for both the programmer and the community. I appreciate modifications and extensions of these algorithms. Please send me your experiences.
Eugene sez: Two thumbs up! I've had one student do work of this sort. A few years ago, I had a student named David Schmudde. Dave is one of those guys who mixes both technical skills and interests with artistic skills and interests, both music and visual art. For his course project in Intelligent Systems, he created a program called Ardis. This program acts like a set of sophisticated Adobe Photoshop filters. It consists of a set of rules about the features of paintings done in certain artistic styles, such as German Expressionism. Given an image of any sort, it applies the rules of the styles selected by the user to the images in funky ways, as if to say "How would a German expressionist have made this picture?" In the case of German Expressionism, it finds lines that mark objects and exaggerates them. The program uses a bit of randomness in its filtering, which means that you can use Ardis to create a set of images all of a theme. As his instructor, I was most impressed that Dave wrote almost all of the code that makes up Ardis. At the time, there wasn't all that much in the way of image processing packages in Java, so he went off and learned what he needed to implement and did it himself. The program isn't perfect or polished, not nearly as much so as Tarbell's work on-line, but it was a great result for a semester's work. Dave went on to do a master's degree in music and technology at Northwestern, which he just completed last spring. I'll have to dig out Ardis and see if I can't package it up for folks to play with and extend. [ Update: I found an old pointer to a description of Ardis on line. Check out David's page http://www.davidshino.com/ardis.html for a bit about his program. ] Sometimes, a computer scientist can produce a beautiful picture without intending to. One of my current M.S. students, Nathan Labelle, is working on a project involving power laws and open-source software. In the course of displaying a particular relationship among 100 randomly selected Linux packages, he produced the image to the right: a graph that appears to be a wonderful line drawing of a book whose pages are being riffled. I think it's quite beautiful. -----