Closed systems: Generative Art and Software Abstraction by Marius Watz | Reflection Essay



Closed systems: Generative Art and Software Abstraction

by Marius Watz

While generative art is usually associated with pixels, it is not a compulsory criterion. It is also not necessary to be interactive, even though it is commonly open sourced. The most important factor of Generative art is its unpredictability, and its system of “growing” from given information.

Watz states that “Forms produced by generative systems often take on a complex nature, exploiting principles of emergence to produce structures that could not be made by human hands.” I agree with this statement; to me, the beauty of generative art is how precise, random and unpredictable it can be, and this is usually associated with numbers. This is very different from creating something from scratch, such as with clay or paintings. There is a lot more calculation and precision work involved. Then again, it should not be misunderstood that generative art can only come in the form of digital work.

Watz also mentions that it is difficult to simulate organic behaviour through computation, yet at the same time it helps in the virtual simulation due to the computer’s ability to generate and replicate the same sequence of code over and over again in an array without manual input. In this sense I think this is interesting because while it sounds like generative art is a double-edged sword with irony to top it off; it can be so precise but unnatural if you are not precise enough.

To add on, without the existence of computation, people would not even be open to the idea of generative art, as it is too tedious to execute while incorporating subtle changes to signify the growth of the art piece.

A common conception brought up is how the birth of generative art signifies the death of interactive art, as it in a way dampens the experience of open sourced art because the art can generate by itself when it is computational.

However, I feel that this conception is a misunderstanding because generative art is not necessarily digital, and even if it is digital it can also be open sourced. There are just many different types of generative art that is not limited to automated digitalization.

Ultimately generative art, while being heavily linked to software and digitalization, it is not about what the computer can do. Generative art is more about how real-time and self-contained art is still a form of art even if it is digital. Digitalization does not represent a loss in art; it is an addition to the scope and variety of how art can be portrayed. We should ultimately not see art done with software as an evil but as a different art form.