What is Algorithmic Art anyway?


Here is some information from the net to start you off right away!


Algorithmic Art

Algorithmic art is a subset of generative art, and is practically always executed by a computer. If executed by a computer, it is also classified as computer-generated art, but in much computer-generated art the role of the computer is confined to the execution. In contrast, in algorithmic art the creative design is the result of an algorithmic process, usually using a random or pseudo-random process to produce variability.

An algorithm is a step-by-step problem-solving procedure, especially an established, recursive computational procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps. Informally speaking, an algorithm is a collection of instructions for carrying out a task, like producing a certain drawing or piece of art!


The role of the Algorithm

For a work of art to be considered algorithmic art, its creation must include a process based on an algorithm devised by the artist. Here, an algorithm is simply a detailed recipe for the design and possibly execution of an artwork, which may include computer code, functions, expressions, or other input which ultimately determines the form the art will take. This input may be mathematical, computational, or generative in nature. Inasmuch as algorithms tend to be deterministic, meaning that their repeated execution would always result in the production of identical artworks, some random factor is usually introduced. If the algorithm is executed by a computer, this can be the use of a pseudo-random number generator.


The artist must be concerned with the most appropriate expression for their idea, just as a painter would be most concerned with the best application of colors. The artist's self-made algorithms are an integral part of the authorship, as well as being a medium through which their ideas are conveyed.


The Start for me

This simple image, here, was made by Manfred Mohr in the year 1969. More than 40 years ago and it pretty much sums up what I do on this site. It took ten years before I first saw this image and I immediately got hooked by it. Clearly it was made by a program but it was not just a random set of lines. I could see a base pattern and just enough additional elements to make it natural somehow. Could I write a program to produce this image and play with the algorithms parameters myself? This was just one of an endless series of possibilities.


What I liked was its clear link to script. Like an artificial language. Now using a computer you could produce a much more compact and efficient means to translate meaning but this language was stringy and script like. But then again not stringy enough to look like hand drawn. 


After all these years this image still makes me get, start up any programmable tool on my pc or tablet and program graphics!



My artist tool of choice is Mathematica these days. It's clear symbolic basis, flexible like C, an endless supply of great mathematical functions and ... direct resolution independent vector graphics output to PDF. Look here for some great examples of Mathematica as an Art tool.


Doing C# in Visual Studio seems like a hassle now. In Mathematica only the algorithm needs to be specified. Direct from idea to graphics. For on the road I use MathStudio for a quick fix and to play with algorithms I can later work on in Mathematica.