Inference and Design in Kuba and Zillij Art with Shape Grammars

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Ramgopal Rajagopalan, Eric Hortop, Dania El-Khechen, Cheryl Kolak Dudek, Lydia Sharman, Fred Szabo, Thomas Fevens and Sudhir Mudhur: Inference and Design in Kuba and Zillij Art with Shape Grammars. In: Bridges 2006. Pages 419–428



We present a simple method for structural inference in African Kuba cloth, and Moorish zillij mosaics. Our work is based on Stiny and Gips’ formulation of “Shape Grammars”. It provides art scholars and geometers with a simple yet powerful medium to perform analysis of existing art and draw inspiration for new designs. The analysis involves studying an artwork and capturing its structure as simple shape grammar rules. We then show how interesting families of artworks could be generated using simple variations in their corresponding grammars.

Extended Abstract


Used References

[1] Stiny G, Gips J, 1972, "Shape Grammars and the Generative Specification of Painting and Sculpture" in C V Freiman (ed) Information Processing 71 (Amsterdam: North-Holland) 1460-1465. Republished in Petrocelli O R (ed) 1972 The Best Computer Papers of 1971: Auerbach, Philadelphia 125-135.

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[15] Cheryl Kolak Dudek, Lydia Sharman, Fred E. Szabo, Sushil Bhakar, Eric Hortop, Yun Li, Wumo Pan, From Ethno-mathematics to Generative Design: Metapatterns and Interactive Methods for the Creation of Decorative Art., 8th International Conference on Information Visualisation (IV 04), London, 2004

[16] Yojana Joshi, Ramgopal Rajagopalan, Cheryl Kolak Dudek, Lydia Sharman, Sudhir P Mudur, “Designing a user interface for Generative Analysis of African Kuba Textiles”, Third Iteration Conference on Generative Systems in the Electronic Arts, Nov 30th – Dec 2nd, 2005, Melbourne, Australia.

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[19] Noam Chomsky: Three models for the description of language, IRE Transactions on Information Theory, 2 (1956), pages 113-124


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