1A. Something I like which exhibits effective complexity would include skyscrapers. Much like crystal lattices, all skyscrapers have an orderly frame of metal bars and walls of concrete to reinforce their static structure, and are in this way have low information complexity. Much like the circulatory or nervous systems of a biological creature, skyscrapers require electrical wiring, air ducts, and plumbing systems to ensure their maintenance. However, the architecture between skyscrapers can be very diverse, so each skyscraper has the potential to look idiosyncratic despite their homogenous structure and necessities. They can range in different shapes, sizes, color, material and style. I would argue skyscrapers fall somewhere between crystal lattices and biological life in terms of their information complexity.
1B. I suppose the issue I anticipate to grapple with the most as I experiment with generative art will be the Problem of Creativity. I believe that, in order to create a program that generates art, I must have an idea of a blueprint, which, when given several variables each of some randomized value, will generate an object mathematically unique but conceptually identical every time. The programmer is responsible for creating the blueprint; the program is responsible for creating different iterations of this blueprint. The blueprint is the only creative object, not the iterations of the blueprint. My exposure to generative art, unfortunately, has led me to believe that a lot of it (though certainly not all of it) feels, for lack of a better word, soulless, even though all the projects I've been exposed to demanded tremendous effort and thought. For a generative program to feel "creative" to me, it must generate objects which I couldn't have anticipated it creating; where phenomena or patterns arise which I didn't expect; where the program has the capacity to "surprise" the programmer or the viewer. Every randomised variable the programmer includes in the program is still a mark of his own intention; by including this variable, the programmer explicitly expects there to be variations in this variable, and therefore any variation of this variable would only be a consequence of his own creativity first and foremost, rather than that of the computer.
"5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user's dependency upon it."
I interpret this tenet to mean that the Critical Engineer is responsible for understanding the potential effects their work may have on the individuals who use it. Art and technology have the capacity to change people, with this capacity being "proportional to that user's dependency upon it," meaning that the more emotional investment the consumer has in the product, the more likely it is to change them. I thought this tenet was interesting because it addresses that people engineering inanimate objects happens just as often as the opposite. A real example of this is the modern man's relationship with his smartphone. It's cliched at this point, but most citizens living in the developed world today are dependent on their smartphone for communication, information, entertainment, transportation, and more. This dependency can lead to addiction, and can alter the user's lifestyle and relationships with other people. Simultaneously, this new way to connect people around the world and access to a growing multitude of information previously unavailable to previous generations can help contribute to the user's cultural and intellectual growth.
Project: Lingdong Huang, CMU 15-112 Term Project: Hermit (2015)
Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPYeTJd8klQ
Link to GIF: https://giphy.com/embed/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN
<iframe src="https://giphy.com/embed/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN?video=0" width="480" height="274" frameBorder="0" class="giphy-embed" allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="https://giphy.com/gifs/XBuy5KwySYOAruoFrN">via GIPHY</a></p>
Lingdong Huang, Hermit (2015)
One person, Lingdong Huang , was involved in the making of this project. What is particularly inspiring about this project is that its creator is not (or at least, wasn't at the time) a professional artist, but rather a fellow CMU student. I assume it took Huang only a few weeks to complete this simulation, as I also took 15-112 and am familiar with the term project. Huang used Python code to create this project, and was likely inspired by preexisting procedural generation projects which mimicked nature.
I was shown this video when I was a senior in high school by a student when I came to visit CMU. The combination of aesthetics and algorithmic complexity of this project left a lasting impression which led me to apply to CMU. I was drawn to the minimalistic yet effective use of monochromatic tones to evoke a quiet, fantastical atmosphere; the usage of simple polygons in specific ways to create organic, life-like creatures. The usage of building a "skeleton" in order to animate the creatures can be seen in Lingdong's later work, doodle-place, which was shown in Lecture today.