Arties: Meta-Design as Evolving Colonies of Artistic Agents

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R. Neal Elzenga, Michael S. Pontecorvo: Arties: Meta-Design as Evolving Colonies of Artistic Agents. In: Generative Art 1999.



Meta-design, the act of designing a system or species of design instead of a design instance, is an important concept in modern design practice and in the generative design paradigm. For meta-design to be a useful tool, the designer must have more formal support for both design species definition/expression and the abstract attributes which the designer is attempting to embody within a design. Arties is an exploration of one possible avenue for supporting meta-design.

Arties is an artistic system emphasising the co-evolution of colonies of Artificial Life design or artistic agents (called arties) and the environment they inhabit. Generative design systems have concentrated on biological genetics metaphors where a population of design instances are evolved directly from a set of ‘parent’ designs in a succession of generations. In Arties, the a-life agent which is evolved, produces the design instance as a by-product of interacting with its environment.

Arties utilise an attraction potential curve as their primary dynamic. They sense the relative attraction of entities in their environment, using multiple sensory channels. Arties then associate an attractiveness score to each entity. This attractiveness score is combined with a 'taste' function built into the artie that is sensitised to that observation channel, entity, and distance by a transfer function. Arties use this attraction to guide decisions and behaviours. A community of arties, with independent evolving attraction criteria can pass collective judgement on each point in an art space. As the Artie moves within this space it modifies the environment in reaction to what it senses.

Arties support for Meta-design is in (A) the process of evolving arties, breeding their attraction potential curve parameters using a genetic algorithm and (B) their use of sensory channels to support abstract attributes geometry. Adjustment of these parameters tunes the attraction of the artie along various sensing channels.

The multi-agent co-evolution of Arties is one approach to creating a system for supporting meta-design. Arties is part of an on-going exploration of how to support meta-design in computer augmented design systems.

Our future work with Arties-like systems will be concerned with applications in areas such as modelling adaptive directives in Architecture, Object Structure Design, spatio-temporal behaviours design (for games and simulations), virtual ambient spaces, and representation and computation of abstract design attributes.

Extended Abstract


Used References

[1] Gero J., Adaptive systems in Design: New Analogies from Genetics andDevelopmental Biology, Adaptive Computing in Design and Manufacture, Springer, 1998.

[2] Pontecorvo M., Designing the Undesigned: Emergence as a Tool for Design, Generative Arts ’98 proceedings, Milan, 1998.

[3] Sims K., Evolving Virtual Creatures, Siggraph ’94 proceedings, 1994.

[4] Holland J., Hidden Order: How Adaptivity Builds Complexity, Addison-Wesley, 1995.

[5] Toffoli, T., and N. Margolus. Cellular Automata Machines. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1987.

[6] Kohonen, T. Self-Organizing Maps. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1988.

[7] Langton, C. ed., Artifical Life II, Addison-Wesley, Reading, 1992.


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