Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Generative art: New and recreated vintage art, made with code and imagination (observablehq.com)
227 points by lobo_tuerto 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments


I make paintings from generative art, which I use to inspire physical paintings.


I made a tutorial on recreating the generative art of John Whitney in the Processing programming language: https://youtu.be/LaarVR1AOvs

It's intended for beginner programmers, but it's surprising what you can do with not much code.

Thanks for the reference to John Whitney, new to me, and most interesting. Some of his films are on archive.org and his book Digital Harmony is downloadable as a pdf.

I got started with this back in May 2015[1] and would highly recommend YOU (yes, you!) try it! It's super easy - you just have to download and install Processing[2], then write some Java code to manipulate an canvas and viola!

[1] https://zk.gd/art.html

[2] https://processing.org

Nice images!

You can half the filesizes by better compressing the PNGs, for example with optipng or pngcrush, losslessly.

Just noticed on my one of my notebooks is featured in this collection!

Also, the other collections are defiantly worth checking out: https://beta.observablehq.com/@observablehq?tab=collections

The link does not work for me while the top one is. I am on iOS.

And you can actually see most of the art pieces being generated.. mesmerising..

Don't think quotes ' are warranted here

if you wanna create some awesome generative art youself check you the awesome Chromata[1] by "I was a teenage punk-rockstar" turned web-dev michael bromley


There's a (no longer updated) gallery using Processing at http://www.complexification.net/gallery/. It's quite old as well - ~10y at least

Is there an auditory equivalent?

Check out https://www.kadenze.com/ They have some interesting courses

Problem is style transfer as a paradigm adds very little to art as an original augmentation of our experience: it is seen as a mere pick & mix without an original act behind, therefore it is very difficult to sell... or is this the latest instalment of the old elites with money vs the angry and penniless young? I don't know, really. That's why as an art dealer I just took the plunge at http://www.artyde.com in order to make the physical act on very basic media fashionable again, that is hand-made A3 A4 A5 drawing or paintings with pastels and water colours. Pauperism forces thought and imagination and we literally need rehabilitation to create new styles imho.

All valid points, but not everything needs to be about money and business. A lot of people here are interested in subjects like generative art, simply for the joy of creating something nice and for fun :)

how to see these? Firefox, Chrome, and IE won't render anything... just a blank page.

how to see these? Firefox, Chrome, and IE only show a blank page.


It's not wrong, though. Is it art? Yes. Did it take imagination to figure out algorithms to produce said art? Yes. So I'm not sure what your point is.

95% of generative art is fridge art - beginner-level doodles by people who haven't taken the time to learn anything at all about art history, art techniques, composition, colour theory, physical art media, printing techniques and technologies, art-as-culture, or even just the history of digital graphics.

And implementing algorithms designed by someone else doesn't require any obvious imagination.

Luckily 5% (or so) of generative work is more interesting than this. But IMO there's a huge, huge gap between the quality and imagination of the work done by people who are talented and committed enough to work on generative art for years, and the people who knock out a few doodles in Processing (or Quil, or some other system) and feel terribly pleased with how creative they're being.

So no - it's not interesting art. It's an excuse to play with algorithms for people who enjoy playing with algorithms. This particular excuse makes graphics. But it's still a superficial excuse to play with toy code, not a form of insightful psychological or perceptual abstraction and/or original self-expression.

Will you elaborate? I don’t understand your comment.

> 95% of generative art is fridge art

Sounds right in line with the rest of art. 95% of all art is fridge art. Do you have any sub-genres in mind that somehow have naturally higher quality ratios, can you share some examples?

More importantly, is the art posted in this article fridge art? Personally, I’m less interested in generic blanket statements not specific to the article at hand, and more interested in what people might have to say about the article that was posted, about Mike Bostock’s work, for example.

> So no - it’s not interesting art

What makes art “interesting”? What requirement is there to be interesting, who said it was supposed to be interesting in this thread or elsewhere? Who determines whether it’s interesting? Are you saying that if something is uninteresting, then it’s not art?

> It’s an excuse to play with algorithms

What’s wrong with having an excuse to draw if I like playing with pencil & paper? Why is having an excuse to play with algorithms bad?

> not a form of insightful psychological or perceptual abstraction and/or original self-expression.

Could you provide some examples of what you’re talking about? What’s “original” about painting or sculpting or dancing? What’s psychological or perceptually abstract about Rembrandt or Vermeer? Isn’t generative art natually more abstract than realist paintings?

In your world where art must be interesting, and not done for the sake of technique, and insightful, and abstract, and original, what is the role of art education?

I do not understand why you and others are getting so defensive here? The parent comment is 100% correct without even saying that art education cannot be democratised. At the level required for becoming interesting for the public, though, art is more social than technical: there are history, etiquette, education, steps for accreditation until canonisation. No nerd can disrupt that by style transferring Munch on Van Gogh through a neural net. It is just silly... or private, if you want, just a game, which is ok but does not justify the venom under this comment.

I don’t feel like my comment was anywhere near as strong as your characterization, but okay, I guess I did allow my feelings to show a little. Mostly I was honestly asking for the parent comment to back itself up with some actual evidence or examples. Do you feel any of my questions were unreasonable, and can you point to which ones?

The parent comment is only 100% correct in the sense that it’s someone’s opinion, so there’s nothing much to argue. Whether it’s correct is less important than whether it’s moving the conversation in a constructive direction. The irony of saying that most generative art is unoriginal is that comment has been made a million times before, it’s a fairly un-original thing to say.

Nobody said this art needed to be interesting to the public, that “requirement“ in the context of this conversation is a straw man. It had enough HN interest to hit the front page of HN, so it is by definition interesting enough to be posted here.

Furthermore, when people show work on HN, it sucks to have unsubstantive blanket comments that the genre is not worth considering because it’s full of junk. I don’t know Mike Bostock personally, but he’s written the widely used D3.js library and has done professional info art for the New York Times. It seems quite uninformed to reply to a posting of a gallery of his work with insults about “fridge art” and “doesn’t require any obvious imagination”.

> No nerd can disrupt that style by transferring Munich on Van Gogh through a neural net.

Did you look at the gallery posted at the top? There are no neural nets here. You’re arguing about something unrelated to this post.

> It is just silly... or private, if you want, just a game

Says who? You’re complaining about my comment while dismissing the efforts and interests of the people posted in the article here. Maybe you don’t realize how much of an attack yours and @TheOtherHobbes’ comments might seem to the people who’s work is in the gallery linked here, or to the people who study & practice art.

Let us remember Sturgeon's law: 95% of everything is crap... Your first paragraph applies equally well to non digital art.

I would simply argue that art always starts as a personal exploration. Sometimes it is expressive, sometimes it is communicative, sometimes it is to learn or explore a new technique. What is the real difference between twiddling with an algorithm to see what it can do and practicing pastels to explore color? They are both part of the process of learning different tools for expression.

I could just as easily claim that 100% of Cubist art is "fridge art". You need a little better argument than that.

Okay, I have a slightly more nuanced rebuttal:

You seem to be making a blanket dismissal of all outsider art. Am I understanding you correctly?

Why is having a background in the history of art necessary, other to know that you're doing something that has been done before?

You just come off as a pompous jerk.

I have no interest in spending years learning art history theory or whatever the fuck, but to spark my interest or a childs interest in doing anything creative at all is a good thing.

Go visit /r/iamverysmart mr. arty-pants, because here you just look like an ass.

May we see some of your work to compare with?

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact