Question 1A.

3rd grade birthday parties are these fantastic events that exhibit effective complexity, in that at this age the imposed parental structure and plan provided tends to follow the order of specific patters, ex: balloons, cake, theme (the specifics of falling under random as often chosen by child), child-friendly location, 3rd graders invited. 3rd grade birthday parties in this sense are often immediately recognizable as 3rd grade birthday parties. Then there is the total randomness that  occurs when 5 to 20 3rd graders of different dispositions are introduced onto the scene with balloons, cake, hats and freedom to play on a sugar kick, making each event unique. 

Question 1B,

To the Problem of Authenticity, and whether generative art is really art at all, I hold some personal stake. I've often heard from certain people that 'computerized' forms of art must be easier to make, as its the computer doing the work rather than the artist, and that particularity frustrates me as I think it is A) Not true, and B) Cheapening and disregarding of the authenticity of the work and art itself. I think that generative art is most certainly art, in that the process of creating the constraints and directions that allow for exciting randomness and multiple productions, is directed and chosen by the artist themselves, the computer is their creative tool.

vingu – Reading 02

Question 1A. Something you like which exhibits effective complexity.  Where does your selection sit between total order and total randomness.

Snake scales are closer to total order. A snake morph is a genetic mutation that makes a snake look different than commonly expected (visual indicators). Some morphs can be predicted since most follow the punnet square rule (ie dominant, recessive, het). However, not all morphs are consistent/can be predicted since they can be spread out across different genes and we don't know which gene causes which morph. Hence, there are many combinations (python has like 100+ morphs). Some morphs can have repeated patterns, random blobs, scaleless snakes.

The blacktailed cribo is a simple example, but other snakes have many many morphs that can be hard to predict. Most morphs are discovered by people breeding snakes, so a lot of morphs have not been discovered yet.

false water cobra

hypomelanistic false water cobra

lavender false water cobra

Question 1B.  Problem of Authenticity.

The argument is that if the computer expresses itself that the artist can not anticipate, does it's randomness still qualify for the artist's expression? I believe that it is still the artist's expression. The artist created the code and system for the computer to execute.I see computers as a tool for randomization and computation  (like how paint, pens, etc are tools).


1A. A honeycomb exhibits the idea of effective complexity as this is a simple system that contains high degrees of order and disorder. The beehive is a pretty complex hierarchical system and the honeycomb itself as a structure is very orderly, however I think there is a degree of disorder in the hive. I would place the honeycomb closer to the "total order" side of the spectrum (but not completely) and a little directed to the total randomness side.

1B. The Problem of Locality, Code, and Malleability is an interesting one to me as Galanter questions where art resides onto its logical status. The argument about generative art is that some people feel as though it is like any other artwork that has an object or event while others criticize the object or event and see the generative system as the art. Personally, I feel as though the generative system is the art itself because the most interesting/ more important part about generative art is how it was made to become the "object" or "event" rather than what the object becomes.


1A) Effective Complexity

Nature and biological life are systems that serve as exemplars to effective complexity, and so dandelions were what first came to my mind as one of my favorite instances of such. On the spectrum, I believe dandelions fall within an equal split between relative order and randomnesses, which is why I feel particularly drawn these weeds, as I am fascinated with the balance and similar distribution of both. Typically, dandelions can be associated with having extreme "randomness" -- pick up the flower, blow on it, and have the seeds scatter haphazardly over the field by dancing, lifting, and dipping from the wind. However, once each individual seed settles, there is a method to which biological processes will take place from there -- depending on the fertility of land, the seed will take root, germinate, bloom into flowers, and repurposed into white pappis with seeds at the end. Additionally, dandelions are capable of asexual reproduction, resulting in many identical flowers. Wind and/or other factors in nature then chaotically disperses of the seeds, and the cycle continues.

A dandelion as seen in three different phases.

1B) The problem of Meaning: Can and should generative art be about more than generative systems?

Generative art serves as a medium to help maximize the possibilities and skillsets of an artist. However, to this, arises the issue of whether or not the emphasis should be placed on the "generative" or "art" aspect. Some projects call for attention to be drawn to the multiple iterative art pieces as the final product (with little regards to the process in which went about creating them; a top down approach), whereas others highlight the system of creating generative art (with little regards to the byproduct itself; a bottom up approach). Although there lies value in both approaches, I find myself personally aligning with the values of bottom up. Typically, when I finalize my mind on exactly what an end desirable should exhibit, I find myself more "comfortable", in the sense that I have a working goal in mind and am more so simply seeking the bridges to connect me to that. Whereas, when I work from a bottom up approach, I find it more rewarding to "seek truth to process as being inartistically beautiful", which not only celebrate creation as an activity, but also allows me to maintain an open mindset, and ultimately, design and create emotionally durable experiences.



  1. If effective complexity is to be understand as a system moving in a structured yet unpredictable way, the slime mold can be a fine example. The slime mold is a single celled organism that will continuously expand itself until it reaches food nearby, at which point it will contract until it exists in the shortest path between itself and food. It has no control over the food position, but will follow the same logical procedure when it finds the food.
  2. I think about The Problem Of Uniqueness quite often. Instagram is now full of simple effects on typography, or looping gifs of shape illusions. Even more complex generative art tends to follow much of the same structure. I do think that there are moments with which artists can express uniqueness, even in a space where it seems everyone is playing the same hand. Take for instance the generative artist Shane, who has done many plays on the idea of a tunnel, or turned a truchet pattern into a structure, or sculpture.



Novels are effectively complex. The elements of a novel are ordered by various structures of language, but still various. Letters are arranged into words, but the particular words vary widely. Similarly, words are arranged into sentences and sentences into paragraphs, chapters. To someone who doesn't understand the language, a novel seems almost like total randomness, but the rules of spelling, grammar, and narrative introduce an element of order.


The Problem of Uniqueness: I often have a certain reaction to a lot of generative art. When generative art creates infinite variations on something, each individual thing seems to lose its impact. You end up going "cool" then moving on. I feel like the stuff that works for me is when the objects generated are not presented as the main event. The generating system is the unique object with the unique experience.

sovid – Reading 02

1A. I think any board game that creates a complex world based on a set of rules can be considered a work with effective complexity. A family favorite of mine is the German kingdom building game Carcassonne. The game relies on a series of very specific rules and outcomes for each draw of the game, yet every time it is played, the kingdom looks entirely different, as each tile placed is drawn at random.

Related image

1B. The issue of intent in generative art is very interesting to me because I (whether I try to or not) tend to lean towards labor heavy work and attribute more value to something that has been painstakingly created. While happy accidents are something I frequently stumble upon, I can't help but think of them as a lazy approach and give less importance to a work.


Question 1A.

I think games with very simple rules that are played by humans are a good example of effective complexity because they are great stages for emergent interactions. Games that come to mind are the loop activity we did in class and r/place, where a rule as simple as "You can color a pixel every 20 minutes" allows for complex social interactions. I choose these as examples because they are a combination of order (simple rules) and disorder (human individuality) that constitute a complex system. Perhaps the only point of contention is whether these examples are truly generative, because the artist(s) are not removed from the decision-making in the way that Galanter emphasizes in the beginning of the text.

Question 1B.

I relate the most to the problem of meaning because I find it something that I struggle with in all forms of art. Galanter highlights generative art's inclusiveness of all forms of "meaning", whether it be presenting the system itself, invoking awe, or delivering social commentary. Because of this, I find it hard in general to evaluate the critical value of my ideas. At the same time, I find it liberating to not have to evaluate the critical value of my ideas because all delivered meanings are valid within the realm of generative art, including the lack of "higher" meaning beyond being interesting. Galanter also mentions a radically bottom-up "truth-to-process" approach, which I find intriguing but also personally difficult to practice. As an artist, I enjoy adopting a director position over my projects, which makes it difficult for me to relinquish control to the system.


1A. Going back to teamLab once again, I believe their piece BORDERLESS exhibits a high effective complexity. The experience of the art itself is completely different for every viewer, as the programs and displays are almost completely interactive, depending almost entirely on user input and movement. It sits in the middle of total order and total randomness, because the art generated is created by the same algorithm (total order), but the art's conveyance and comprehension is different for everyone (total randomness). 


1B. Problem of Authorship:

I took the mini-course Art & Arduino last year, where I thought about this specific idea for a long time, because my final project dealt with a robot producing art based off of human input. Especially since I am a digital artist interested in computer graphics and animation, this problem is very close to the career I want to pursue. I came to believe that yes, since the artist is the one creating the program and coding the processes that the system uses to generate the art, the authorship of the artwork can be credited to the artist and not the machine. If the artist is simply using specific programs of the machine and changing the input values to vary results, then by the transitive property, the artist is effectively creating the artwork itself as well.

MoMar – Reading02

Cities that have been around since the middle ages are prime examples of effective complexity. In the olden days, urban planning was not widely used so people typically built buildings where they wanted to. On the scale between total randomness and total order, it's around the middle because as time progresses, the city gets more organized. There is a clear division between the two with the wide road surrounding the old city.