1a: The kind of effective complexity that I’m most interested in comes from emergent systems, for example the flocking patterns of birds, which I believe sits squarely in the middle of Galanter’s spectrum. While the forms that emerge are certainly recognizable, they are unpredictably dynamic and evolving in dramatic ways that are far from random. They are clearly not fractal or L-systems, but express a clarity or sense of intention that masks the complexity of the whole. Additionally, the rules that guide each agent (in this case bird) are remarkably simple relative to the pattern that emerges.
1B: The Problem of Postmodernity
This section I found extremely compelling and inspiring to read. As someone who in many ways subscribes to the poststructuralist idea of the death of the author (as discussed in ‘the problem of authorship’) I think generative art walks a delicate balance between authorial intent and an act of revealing of an existing system. I think the role of the generative artist / designer is far more editorial than expressive. The act of creating generative art is similar to found / street photography in the sense that the artist is by no means the sole artificer of the content, but frames and then presents that which already exists. Just as we do with photography, we still credit the artist as an aesthetician, appreciating their eye—not their hand—in the work.
I particularly love the passage:
Generative art can establish beauty as something that is not man’s arbitrary creation, but rather an expression of universal forces. Second, artists on that basis can demonstrate, by compelling example, reasons to maintain faith in our ability to understand our world. They can remind us that the universe itself is a generative system, and generative art can restore our sense of place and participation in that universe.
In this way, generative art is both deeply artificial (that is to say, made by human hands) but elegantly natural, eroding the philosophical barrier between ‘man’ and ‘nature’ in a way that makes the dichotomy seem contrived. While much of contemporary generative art is strikingly technological, it is simultaneously eerily primordial, which is what I believe makes it so compelling.