Artificial Societies is a collection of about 100 images realized through a computer simulation of a society of digital organisms. The story of this realization was quite casual and surprising. In 1994, I was making some experiments generating tables of fractures over a deposition of ink, dried with heat sources. To have a better control, I tried reproduce the ink fractures on the computer. For a lucky conceptual mistake, instead of a mechanic model, I made use of a sort of animistic model. In the images, the fractures started to move autonomously, according to a genetic code of numeric parameters. Architectures of living patterns of filaments emerged by this experiment evocating natural, human and artificial shapes, ancestral dreams. Therefore, for a conceptual mistake, it was born the idea to use the creative potentiality of the artificial life and the theory of the complexity as algorithms in order to generate artistic images based on the creative potentiality of the life itself. The artificial life is not used to create artificial organisms but in order to evoke the mechanisms of development and evolution of the life, the mind and the society. The images are generated in the computer beginning from few initial filaments growing as living organisms. During the growing, they reproduce forming branches and evolving their characteristics through genetic mutations. Varying the genetic characteristics and the behavior of the single filament, one alters the process of organization and the emerging architectures. This mechanism creates different evolutionary lines in the same image due to groups of individual-filaments that evolve in order to adapt itself to the lessening of the free spaces. During the evolution, the new generations go to setting in the graphical architectures created from the previous generations composing fascinating spatio-temporal relations and structuring the social complexity in many niches of development. The formation of these images evokes metaphors of the ecosystems, the mind, the society and its cultural dynamics: one crystal sphere to imagine virtual worlds, to anticipate visions of the future beginning from a new viewpoint of our roots. The images have been printed on quality paper and engraves on marble. The evolution of this work has been the realization of an interactive installation (Relazioni Emergenti) in which the visitors can interact with the development of the filament society Top
I have always admired calligraphy, sketches, drawings, etchings for these works show so clearly not only the artist’s hand but also the eye, the mind guiding it. I have always loved drawings and loved to draw. Also for twenty years, I have been in a personal endeavor to create a new kind of drawings: mental drawings where new levels of imagination, patience, surprise and desire would become possible; drawings as concepts that would result essentially from the activities of my mind, and would abstract their execution without interference from my body; drawings as and from another kind of language. To conceive and produce these drawings I have studied the gestures my drawings would be made of and I have created and tamed tracing devices to handle these gestures for me. Gesture analysis, geometry, simple mathematics and logic are the foundations upon which I construct each of my drawings as a conceptual project, associated with the device that can proofit. The expression of the design is either a text (in the form of computer scripts or code defining my drawing language) or the schematics of a drawing machine (either involving technology or preferably, organic). As Victor Vasarely instructs the industrialist or Sol Lewitt the draftsman that help produce their works, I pair the creative idea behind each piece with the necessary instructions for the helpers I employ to produce the piece as a record or as a trace of the concept that created it. My helpers are jigs & devices, not people. My helping devices are balls, magnets, pendulums, plotters, smart motors, spinners, syringes, teflon tubes, tops, water, wires combined and driven by natural forces or by software. Drawings being the combination of gesture and line, my helpers are in charge of the gestures, and the traditional marking tools they handle are in charge of the line, which I prefer traditional. My material is the line, the thread, the filament my tools can trace. My favorite medium is pen and ink or graphite on paper. But more often now I may trace these lines into sand, or wood, or etching plates; or align blobs, drips, drops, or use a brush. Often I may add hand marks of some sort. I like the idea of drawing on sand for the ephemerality and frailty of the trace. I like the idea of drawing from devices as it visually incorporates the flow of time and makes drawing a potential performance of which even I can be the spectator. When computer is involved, it is only as an inessential device driving tool, never as an essential interactive image creation tool. I never use commercial software packages, or graphical user interfaces; I work only from text editors and programming languages or shell scripts. I compose my software using many of the paradigms found in nature for the creation of shapes, giving my abstractions their organic character.What is essential is the code I write. Running the code, driving a device, only produce a visible instance of the defined, invisible project, making the computer only a secondary concern. I like the works and poetics of Max Bill, William Blake, Fan K’uan, Helaman Ferguson, Paul Klee, Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Henri Michaux, Mi-Fu, Piet Mondrian, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Yves Tanguy, Mark Tobey, Wols, and many others. I am interested in the plays of concept, time and ephemerality in art. I read Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Eco and they both influence my thinking and my work. Top
BioIcons are animated paintings developed with artificial life, using especially modified Cellular Automata that simulate a sort of living artistic tool. The basic goal of this work is to study the relationship between digital technology, some of the most interesting ideas in science and art, mainly to discover the digital and procedural artistic language and his “natural” tools. Another topic I always thought about is the artwork itself: I like to consider it as a process, and I feel that this process should be open, integrating the artwork process with users. Software is the tool to reach this integration, and for this reason I always design and build my own software. Above everything, I hope to integrate mathematics, science and nature into art, from the point of view of an artist and an educator. I use this tools during my classes helping students to think about creativity and computers and encouraging experiments, multi-field investigation as a way to make new forms of art. This work is currently under development and refinement, but I feel that many interesting things can be done, even by artists without specific training in computer science or mathematics. Something has to be done about artists formation when working in an highly scientific and technological environment as the one in which we are working today. I hope this kind of work will help someway.
About the software
BioIcons, as the rest of my work, this software is the product of my programming efforts: I strongly believe that using proprietary algorithms and software supports autonomy and originality. I started this work studying Cellular Automata algorithms; some of the CA I use are mutations or improvements (from an artistic point of view) of classic Cellular Automata, others are my own creations. I linked birth, death, survival and movement to symmetry, rithm, spatial and chromatic balance. After that, I studied how to force the Cellular Automata to behave like an artistic tool, introducing special parameters linked with color theory, perception and auto similarity. These parameters guide the form of each cell of the CA in terms of size, shape, color and interaction with other cells. Finally, I studied an interface in such a way to allow interaction between the artificial artists and the user, in order to transform the image into an interactive and dynamic process. Libraries and functions are used by students to build their own creations and to study new tools and processes.
About the images
Each image is a spontaneous creation of Artificial Life: different shapes and colors are assigned to each cell of the digital being; this is done linking the “biological” state of each cell and the auto similarity existing between the cell and the digital being as a whole. The resulting picture is like a microscopic view, because we can endlessly magnify portions of the image, using this process to reach, conceptually and visually, the integration between Fractals and Artificial Life. First, a CA is launched, then forms and colors are applied to each cell, in an enlarged portion of the CA lattice. Finally I used some image processing techniques to enhance the image, but this is done in a coherent way with the Cellular Automata. Digital filters behave like Artificial Life, following basic concepts as retroaction, communication and interaction with environment. Top
Generative approach is a scientific Art process that identifies a genetic code as the idea of artificial worlds. The generative project is a concept-software that works producing three-dimensional unique non-repeatable events as possible manifold expressions of the generating idea identified as a subjective visionary proposal of a possible world. This Idea / human creative act renders explicit and realizes an unpredictable amazing endless expansion of human creativity. Computers are simply the tools for its storage in memory and execution. Designing this artificial genetic code was for me an enthusiastically creative operation. I have found myself returning to the Renaissance cultural approach, capable of combining science with art. I have created ideas formulating an harmony code that, as it is born of the history of man and his relationship with nature, identifies and represents my subjective vision of the possible, my imprinting as an architect. The code of harmony, like all codes, contains some rules that trace certain forms of behaviour. Therefore it is not a sequence, a database of events, of forms, but a definition of behaviour patterns: the transformations from what exists into a possible visionary world. The design act changes from forming to transforming, because each form is only one of possible parallel results of an idea. This approach suddenly opened the possibility to rediscover possible fields of human creativity that would be unthinkable without computer tools. If these tools, at the beginning of the computer era, seemed to extinguish the human creativity, today, by allowing us to creatively, they become tools that open new fields enhancing our understanding of creativity. After two hundred years of the old industrial era of necessarily cloned objects, the one-of-a-kind object becomes an essential answer to the long-neglected human need to live a world in which each environment, architecture and artificial object mirrors the aura uniqueness and unrepeatability of every person. In an epoch marked by repeated attempts at the cloning of natural beings, design returns in advanced technological fields such as non-linear dynamic systems to the notions of artificial life and artificial intelligence, the aesthetic and ethical pleasure of rediscovering the processes and characters of Nature. The pleasure to identify and appreciate Identity and uniqueness. With generative approach to architecture and urban design it’s possible to design visionary variations of the city’s identity. For the reason that Identity is how to look at future following a concept of possible, not only a defined form. Each generative town design is a visionary representation of city changing with its evolutionary codes. The challenge is to design the city’s identity rediscovering something like its artificial DNA able to be used to generate endless evolutionary sequences of city’s artificial life through increasing complexity processes.
Design and intelligent production.
This approach opens a new era in design and industrial production: the challenge of a new naturalness of the industrial object as a unique and unrepeatable event, mirror of the uniqueness and unrepeatability of man and nature. Once more man emulates Nature, as in the act of making Art. Argenia is the term that I have coined for this genetic code of artificial ware that, like DNA in nature, identifies not only an object but a species of objects. Industrial design will no longer be the idea and realization of an object, but the idea of a species of objects and its industrial generation. The three-dimensional models produced using Argenia soft, multiple endless results of the same idea, can be directly utilized by industrial manufacturing equipment like numerically controlled machines and robots, which already represent the present technologies of industrial production. This generative and automatic reprogramming device of robots makes it possible to produce unique objects with the same equipment and with costs comparable to those of objects that are cloned identical; like a printer that can produce pages that are all the same or all different, at precisely the same cost. Top
Notes on algorithmic drawing
A new frontier. For close to 20 years I have been developing a program of form generators for initiating and improvising art-form ideas. The creation and control of these generators provide an awesome means for artists to integrate form-growing concepts in their creative process.
The art work. My work joins traditional practice with algorithmic procedures. Thousands of lines in each work are drawn with a multi-pen plotter coupled to a PC. The pen plotter, with an ink pen in its drawing arm, draws each individual line using pigmented inks on rag papers. The pen drawn lines, easily discerned in the overlapping pen strokes in most of my works, are less obvious in the monochrome cyberflowers. However, a close look reveals the cyberflower color field as very closely drawn lines achieved with disciplined precision.
Content. Over the years my software has evolved by stages yielding series of works at each stage. In turn, each series displays distinctive formal qualities associated with its form generators creating a family of forms. Yet each work within the family enjoys its own unique form reality. As a unique reality in itself the art-work does not re-present some other reality. It presents itself. As some abstract expressionists observed in the late 1950’s: It is. Just as a botanist might label a newly discovered flower so also I label this or that newly made visual form.
Meaning. The works are visual analogues of the coded procedures by which they grew. For me they are visual celebrations of information processing procedures embedded in today's culture. They invite us to ponder how the stark logic of a coded procedure yields such surprising grace and beauty. By doing so they serve as icons illuminating the mysterious nature of our evolving selves. Top