Generative Art Final Project

Area of Research

For my final project, I decided to experiment and playing around with particle systems. I had dabbled with particle generative in a procedural animation software called Houdini, but I had never done so in Processing. Particle systems intrigued me because of its visually dynamic quality.

Understanding how to manipulate particles will allow me to explore natural simulations. By creating a mock-up version of a natural occurrence or theory in the world, I think that I can create some interesting visuals. 

Artwork Description

For my artwork, I wanted to simulate a comological theory called the “Oscillating Universe Theory”. I am far from an expert in cosmology, and I do not have the strongest grasp in understanding the physics of the unverse. However, I feel like the theory is quite interesting nontheless.

It is theorised that not only is the universe still expanding, but one day, that expansion will cease and we will experience something called “The Big Crunch”, aka, the reverse Big Bang. Our universe will slow its expansion and implode on itself. And once that implosion occurs, another universe will grow in its place. Essentially, our universe could be one of many universes that have been born (and will eventually collapse).

Of course, those are just the basics of the theory. Regardless, the idea of creating multiple expanding and contracting universes intrigued me. So, making use of particle systems, I wanted to create a simulation where particles (acting as matter) grow out of a single point in a hectic manner. After a certain amount of time, the growth will stop and we go back to that singular point. I want to build a simple Big Bang/Big Crunch simulator. 

Experimental Phase

The images below depict earlier iterations of my code. I was still experimenting to see what visual aesthetic I wanted to achieve. I learned how to create a particle system and applied some 3D rendering to it to better suit cosmological aspect of the theory. 


Final Thoughts

Prior to my enrolment into “Generative Art”, my initial understanding of the topic was that it was simply a branch of computational art. Semesters pass and I gained a slightly re ned but far from concrete idea from things I hear in passing. Two weeks into “SM2220 – Generative Art” and I realise that I had only scratched the surface.

I came across an article written by Margaret A. Boden & Ernest A. Edmonds aptly titled “What is generative art?”. In it, Boden and Edmonds explore the taxonomy of the term and de ne it as an “artwork [that] is generated, at least in part, by some process that is not under the artist’s direct control”. Two important things to take note of are the words “process”–which in this case could also mean “systems”–and “direct control”. Personally, I would agree with Boden and Ernest’s de nition because it easily captures the essence of generative art.

To me, predictability plays a signi cant role in the generative art process. Or more accurately, unpredictability. It’s interesting to see how your subjects– whether they be numerical variables, video footage, or performers–to succumb to the systems that you create it. In generative, control is both gained and lost. The artist has full control over the inner workings of a system. But in the end, the artist ultimately loses control of the overall result of the work.

A problem most likely faced by generative artists is not necessarily one that affects their art-making but it does relate to the perceived notions of generative art from outsiders. For instance, a common sentiment could be that generative art is mechanical and whatever inherent “meaning” the artwork had is lost once a computer is involved. There also seems to be an instinctive reluctance to accept that when machines are involved in the art-making, the work loses its “artistic” status. The same could be said for people experiencing “robot art” for the rst time that’s a whole entire discussion for another day. Ultimately, I believe the ambivalence towards generative art stems from the fact that the artists are not fully in control. 

Source Codes


Russell Dela Bueno Balad | | Hong Kong

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