Xepa: Intelligent Sculptures as Experimental Platforms for Computational Aesthetic Evaluation

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Philip Galanter: Xepa: Intelligent Sculptures as Experimental Platforms for Computational Aesthetic Evaluation. Proceedings of the IEEE VIS Arts Program (VISAP), IEEE, 2013.



In recent years artists have created an explosion of generative art and physical computing installations using the systems studied in complexity science, and leveraging open source technologies such as the Processing programming language and Arduino microcontroller hardware. By using genetic algorithms, reaction diffusion systems, cellular automita, artificial life, deterministic chaos, fractals, Lindenmayer systems, and more artists can generate a seemingly unending stream of visuals and sound. But while these systems offer incredible quantity and variation, they usually lack any self-critical function and simply stream forth without discrimination. This is most apparent in genetic or evolutionary systems where the fitness function is typically not automated and requires interactive selection by the human artist/operator.

The next phase of development seems likely to be the study and implementation of computational aesthetic evaluation. Only when computer-based systems are both generative and self-critical will they be worthy of consideration as being truly creative. XEPA is the name of both the art project and individual intelligent sculptures that display animated colored light and produce music and sound. XEPA is an acronym for “XEPA Emerging Performance Artist.” Each XEPA “watches” the others (via data radio) and modifies its own aesthetic behavior to create a collaborative improvisational performance. In doing so each XEPA independently evaluates the aesthetics of the other sculptures, infers a theme or mood being attempted, and then modifies its own aesthetics to better reinforce that theme. Each performance is unique, and a wide variety of themes and moods can be explored.

Extended Abstract


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