Towards a model for artificial aesthetics

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Miguel Carvalhais: Towards a model for artificial aesthetics. In: Generative Art 2010.



This paper proposes the development of an analytical model, and associated terminology, for computational aesthetic artifacts. Faced with the growing presence and the widespread usage of computational media, studying how they quantitatively transform previous media by remediation and the qualitative transformations induced by their procedural and computational properties, we try to grasp the creative potential and the uniqueness of computational media and to develop a framework for their practice.

As a starting point we resort to Espen Aarseth’s typology for cybertexts, studying its adequacy for the analysis of ergodic visual and audiovisual systems and adapting it with new variables and associated possible values. The model is then tested in a set of samples representative of diverse approaches to procedural art, design and other contemporary clusters of activity. A control analysis is developed to assert the usability and usefulness of the model, its capability for objective classification and our own analysis.

We demonstrate the partial adequacy of Aarseth’s model for the study of artifacts beyond text-based systems and expand it to better suit the objects in study. The resulting model produces a good description of the pieces, clustering them logically, reflecting stylistic and procedural affinities between systems that, if studied from their physical or sensorial properties or from their surface structures alone, would probably not be found to be very similar. The similarities revealed by the model are structural and procedural, attesting the importance of computational characteristics for the aesthetic enjoyment of the pieces. We also verify our initial conjectures about the importance of procedurality, not only in the development and implementation stages of the works but also as conceptual grounding and aesthetic focus in artistic creation and appreciation, as an aesthetic pleasure in itself.

Extended Abstract


Used References

[1] Aarseth, Espen J. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

[2] Barratt, Krome. Logic and Design: in Art, Science & Mathematics. Guilford, Connecticut: Design Books, 1980. 1989.

[3] Whitelaw, Mitchell. “Synesthesia and Cross-Modality in Contemporary Audiovisuals.” Senses & Society 3. 3 (2008): 259-276.

[4] Strickland, Stephanie. “Quantum Poetics: Six Thoughts.” Media Poetry: An International Anthology. Ed. Eduardo Kac. Bristol: Intellect, 2007. 25-44. [5] Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science. Champaign, Illinois: Wolfram Media, 2002.

[6] Rucker, Rudy. The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul: What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About Ultimate Reality, the Meaning of Life, and How to Be Happy. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005.

[7] Nenadić, Oleg, and Michael Greenacre. “Correspondence Analysis in R, with Two- and Three-dimensional Graphics: The ca Package.” Journal of Statistical Software 20. 3 (2007).

[8] Schubiger, Caroline. “Interaction Design: Definition and Tasks.” Total Interaction: Theory and Practice of a New Paradigm for the Design Disciplines. Ed. Gerhard M. Buurman. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2005. 341-351.


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