Creative Machine | Program
A major exhibition exploring the twilight world of human/ma- chine creativity, including installations, video and computer art, artificial intelligence, robotics and apps by leading artists from Goldsmiths and international artists by invitation.
archive,paged,category,category-program,category-125,paged-2,category-paged-2,ajax_updown_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-1.2,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.4,vc_responsive

Mutation Space

William Latham

Mutation Space is a new computer / video Installation developed in 2014.

Using software modelled on the processes of evolution, it blends organic imagery and computer animation. The work includes large-scale printed translucent curtains and printed metal floor tiles which create a visually rich 3D design space within which human and machine interact.

Through computer touch screens and Kinect input, viewers are able to shape and mutate vibrant mutating organic forms in real time on a large projection screen and on small computer screens. Starting with a simple horn-like form, the Mutator2 code introduces random ‘mutations’ in order to generate increasingly complex three-dimensional creations that resemble fantastical, futuristic organisms, by a process that Latham describes as “evolution driven by aesthetics”. These creations, like the Rorschach ink blot test, are open to multiple interpretations, as the viewer perceives content emerging from the endlessly mutating variations, some forms resembling Giger-eque ancient fossils, some looking like protein molecules, others like heavy metal structures and others resembling Escher-like alien spaceships. The installation includes very recent work with Stephen and Peter Todd and Lorenzo Ciciani in which the computer generates mutated variants which are then automatically culled

by the computer based on aesthetic rules that are mathematically defined, removing the need for the artist or public viewer to steer the evolution. The work reflects the artist’s long-term interest in harnessing basic evolutionary processes for creative ends.

The work is a result of William’s long-term collaboration with Stephen and Peter Todd since the late 80s and includes very recent work on Fractal Mutation and aesthetic rules by his postgraduate student Lorenzo Ciciani. Darren Cleary worked on textiles and tile production.


Growth: Mysterious Galaxy

Yoichiro Kawaguchi

GROWTH: Mysterious Galaxy was first presented at the SIGGRAPH’83.
Many organic objects found in nature, such as, seashells, horns, claws, fangs and spiraling plants, exhibit a repetitive pattern in both coloring and form.

They are formed when self-similar figures go through repeated and complex re-partitioning. The formation process of molded things from the natural world is based and materialized in a natural technique scope principle. And I have been trying to apply that algorithm as an artistic method.


Love Love

Ian W. Gouldstone

Love Love is an endless game of digital tennis where the computer perfectly controls both players and the human controls the gaze of a single member of the audience.

Presented in a similar manner to Atari’s 1972 arcade game Pong, Love Love looks at player assumptions in video games, particularly expectations of agency. It sits within Ian W. Gouldstone’s larger body of artistic and scholarly work, which explores queer media forms.


Notes on Nineteen

Ernest Edmonds

The Notes series of prints are based on archive material relating to each of a number of critical steps in my work. They are, perhaps, part digital collage and part concrete poem. Shown on the right in this one is the construction that I made in 1968 and 1969 called Nineteen. Whilst computers had nothing to do with any of the square elements that made the piece up, I used a computer program to help me determine which piece went where. On the left is part of that program, written in the computer language Fortran. I specified a set of conditions that should (or should not) be met, such as that two particular pieces should not be on the same row or column, and the program searched all possibilities for a solution that satisfied my requirement.

In fact, in the three hours of computer time available to me (it was 1968) a solution was not found, although the computer came close. In the centre is a print out of the near solution with my pencil notes on how I could see a full solution by slightly modifying what the computer program had produced. In that way, a computer program, with a little help from me, solved the problem that I had set myself in completing Nineteen.

So this Note print represents where I started writing computer programs as part of my art, beginning with the single mainframe computer that Leicester Polytechnic, where I worked, owned at that time. Arranging the elements of the 20-part relief by writing a program I realized that the systems that I, and others, used in our art could be described in computer programming languages. Once programming became used in art, the form of art now known as ‘Generative’ appeared. It is important to point out that art made by computer programming is not to be equated with Digital Art in general. The latter includes all

kinds of ways of making artworks that involve computers, the Internet or digital data and may not involve the artist in writing programs at all. When a program is the medium, the artist is encapsulating rules and procedures in a formal description and arranging for a computer to act out the consequences. This makes programming an obvious extension to the methods used in the art of the British Systems Group, for example. In this sense, the constructive tradition might be said to continue to break new ground through artists writing computer programs.


My Robot Companion (HARR1)

Anna Dumitriu & Alex May

My Robot Companion is an ongoing project developed by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May in their role as artists in residence in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. They worked in collaboration with Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and Dr Michael L Walters from the Adaptive Systems Research Group to investigate their research into social robotics and to ask the questions, do we want and need robot companions? And, if so, what kind of robot companions do we, as a society, want?

HARR1 (Humanoid Art Research Robot 1) has been designed to be a customizable robot for artistic research created by the team. The artists are using the robot to investigate human/robot interaction from a cultural and ethical perspective, playing with touch, movement, vision, and appearance. The robot can even exhibit signs of boredom, body language, or demonstrate ‘caring’ actions such as putting its arm around someone.

In The Creative Machine HARR1 is seeking out things that are interesting in the exhibition space and those things will catch its attention, though it may soon become bored and drift off to its own ‘thoughts’ or processes. It fidgets constantly and unlike other robots is rarely still.

The team use art and performance techniques as a means of intervening within the scientific research process itself and the project won an AISB Award for Public Understanding of Artificial Intelligence in 2012.

Funded by Arts Council England and The University of Hertfordshire.
For more information on the project see


The Dancing Salesman Problem & Chair #17

Simon Colton

What does it mean for software to be truly, independently creative? Through much scientific and artistic exploration, members of the Computational Creativity research community have identified that software has to be seen to be creative, in addition to producing artefacts of high value and innovating in technique, aesthetic judgement and imaginative reasoning. If it is to have any chance of earning the description ‘creative’, software needs to show genuine skill, appreciation, imagination, learning, accountability and intentionality in creative endeavours. With the Painting Fool project – described at – we are implementing software which can reasonably be described as having abilities that exhibit these behaviours. Gaining feedback from artistic communities has always been part of the process of building the Painting Fool, and criticisms of its processes and products have regularly led to changes in its code and advances in its sophistication. Our latest project, for instance, was driven by criticisms of a lack of intentionality in the software. In the You Can’t Know my Mind exhibition in Paris, 2013, we addressed this issue by having the software paint portraits driven by a simulated mood that it gained through reading newspaper articles. In a terrible mood, the software told sitters to go away, with an explanation of its reasons for doing so. In better moods, it used the sitter as a source material for portraiture designed to inform it about its own painting styles. To this end, it used machine vision methods to tell whether it had achieved an image which was appropriate to its mood, and machine learning techniques to learn to be better at this in the future.

The Dancing Salesman Problem was produced by for an exhibition entitled No Photos Harmed in Paris, 2011. The name of the piece reflects the classic computer science problem where a Travelling Salesman has to drive from town to town without returning to one previously visited. Mapping towns onto colour regions and driving onto brush strokes, the Painting Fool produced these dynamic pieces with swoops representing large distances driven to find the next unvisited town. Each figure was generated with a context-free design grammar, showing that fully-automatically produced pieces can be representational rather than abstract, without requiring photographic input, hence no photos being harmed.

Chair #17 is a virtual painting by a virtual artist of a 3D chair in a virtual world, exhibited in La Maison Rouge, Paris in 2011. In the Furniture series from which this comes, the Painting Fool arranged objects in a 3D world, chose lighting and vantage points and then took an image from which 2D paintings were produced. The series had a very high curation coefficient, with around 80% of the images deemed to be of exhibition quality. This particular piece was chosen for exhibition due to the surprising nature of how much it contrasted with the other pieces in the series: The Painting Fool had free rein to choose colour palettes and simulated painting techniques in this series, and this piece was unique in being greyscale and showing a painting style which can bring much poignancy to the viewing experience.


Transformation Banner

Brock Craft

A new site-specific work, which shows a large sculptural LED screen curtain showing digital transformations, driven by
video input and coded animating data structures. The work references flags and traditional ceremonial banners in churches, cathedrals and ancient buildings but is juxtaposed with the large scale LED technology now commonly used in retail, outdoor advertising, concerts and nightclubs. In terms of content it includes a frontal pixelated spiral structure endlessly forming as an animated tapestry form. The content for this LED Banner was developed in collaboration with William Latham and Stephen Todd and Peter Todd.


Untitled, Computer Assisted Drawing

Paul Brown

I discovered computers as an art medium when I saw Cybernetic Serendipity at the ICA in 1968. I was immediately attracted but it wasn’t until 1974 that I was able to start using computer systems as a central part of my practice. After a period learning programming I began to produce works and Untitled, Computer Assisted Drawing is one of my earliest computational artworks and was made in 1975. It was produced by a FORTRAN programme run from punch cards on an ICL 1903A Mainframe Computer at Liverpool Polytechnic (now John Moore’s University). The programme produced a paper tape that controlled an offline Calcomp pen plotter. The entire process from conception to production of a drawing took around 2 weeks depending on the number of errors in the original programme. At that time there were no ‘apps’ and very little support software so I had to write all the necessary code (including things like device drivers) myself.

My early works like this used random numbers to distribute and orientate a set of square tiles. I also increasingly adopted
an early artificial life technique called Cellular Automata that I had discovered in a Scientific American article in 1969. A-life methodologies like this have become a central part of my practice and I am now recognised as a pioneer of this kind of work.

Early influences included the work of Kenneth and Mary Martin, the members of the UK’s System’s Group, the pan-European systems art movement and US conceptualists like Sol Lewitt and Dan Flavin. They showed me that art could be a process, or system, and that art production could be a ‘hand’s off’ process. In the decades since I have become interested in the concept of ‘art that makes itself’ and the potential of artificial intelligences that can produce art autonomously without the need for human input or intervention.

In 1976 I began to use stand-alone minicomputers (like the DEC PDP8 and DG Nova 2) to produced time-based works that are computed dynamically and are shown on screens. The first of these – Builder/Eater, 1977 – used a 96 by 96 pixel monochrome frame store displayed on a 9in CRT monitor. A recreation of this work was included in the Digital Archaeology section of the Digital Revolution Show at the Barbican earlier this year and is now on international tour.

Early in my career I had to carry around boxes of punched cards and then 10-inch tapes. Then there were boxes of floppy disks. Now almost everything I have ever done fits easily on a high-capacity USB stick and, of course, is in the Cloud. My early works used to take weeks and sometimes months of work on expensive and hard to access computers using difficult programming languages like Assembler. Now tools like Processing and systems like the Raspberry Pi make it so much easier and cheaper to get involved.


Drawing Machine

This project is being created in an iterative process by the artist, where the code is developed according to the physical qualities of the machine.

Damien Borowik works with his machine in a dialog, where he is learning to nurture the mark-making qualities of the machine to reveal its inherent procedural aesthetics through the drawings it creates.

In its current state, the drawing machine uses pens and markers to create ambiguous and timeless drawings, where the viewer can contemplate a vision of our inescapable man-made world.

A small version of the Drawing Machine was created earlier this year, based on the CoreXY principles by Ilan E. Moyer at MIT. The machine quickly developed to its current state.

According to the artist, the Drawing Machine is still in its infancy. Even though the machine and code are still primitive, Borowik currently wants to capture the aesthetics of their inner workings and translate them into the artwork they create.

In the Expanding Square drawings, the machine’s performance is being tested while creating a simple shape through 4 basic actions. The two motors controlling the motion are going backwards and forwards in turn, while the distance travelled by
the pen is increased at the end of each cycle.

In the figurative drawings, Borowik has carefully taken photographs which he then simplifies to capture the essence of
the subject matter through light, shape and texture, which he then extrapolates through the idiosyncrasies of the machine.

Borowik has launched a crowd funding campaign to further develop his project, aiming to let the audience create their own drawings with the machine, and to allow him to carry on investigate the machine through code and technology. More info at


Trace II

Balint Bolygó

Trace II is a sculptural device that alludes to scientific discoveries and the experimental apparatus of science. It is essentially
a mechanical computer that draws its analogue programme from a revolving plaster head. The carefully balanced mechanism slowly measures the topography of a cast human head and translates its undulations onto a rotating cylindrical surface. The result is an evolving topographical diagrammatic depiction that is truly unique every time.

The work alludes to our notions of self and how through technology humans have found numerous visual representations for the individual. Medical advances have brought about well-recognised depictions such as DNA profiling, retina scans, MRI scans and 3d scanning. Trace II investigates the process behind the image making, and reconnects the viewer in a tangible way, with the process behind these fantastical images. Trace II is not only a drawing machine that draws emphasis on the human condition but also questions our ability to understand the ever increasing advances in technology around us. Trace II, uses

the more visually transparent and tangible technology of the past – more likened to the nature of the fingerprint – to allude
to technology of the present. In this respect Trace II attains a timeless characteristic, where the alienating nature of today’s technology is contradicted. Today so much of our technology comes through a screen from a complex array of codes and programmes that only a few can understand and even then it can be a less than fulfilling visual experience. This ‘technological alienation’ can often leave the viewer detached from the lengthy creative processes that lie behind the screen, constituting so much of a focus for digital artists today.

Trace II is a generative work where the artist’s head becomes the code for a complex mechanical algorithm. The plaster head is the ‘source code’ for the ‘Da Vinci’ – like contraption that literally feels the undulations of the human head and converts these features into a spiralling topographical map of the 3-dimensional object.

The structure of Trace II is open and the workings are transparent so the viewer is free to discover the process visually. The mechanism alludes to our advancing technology whilst it looks back in time, when technology was less alienating and more physical.

Trace II challenges a number of issues related to authorship of artwork: is it the product, the machine or the performance? Can or should all these be viewed independently? What are the implications of artworks being created in the artist’s absence? Is the drawing mechanism an autonomous machine that churns out artwork or is it a precise instrument or tool that the artist has control over, thereby maintaining the artist’s status as a decision maker?

Trace II reveals hidden patterns from natural forces that our surrounding world provides us with. The piece makes traces of these forces over hours and presents us with an event that is slowly unfolding in time, into an ‘act of creation’ where process, machine and product are one.



Daniel Berio

Graffitizer3 is part of a series of works by Daniel Berio which revolve around the computational exploration of graffiti style. Graffiti is the art of the abstraction of the letter form. Letters are distorted, fragmented and interlocked in complex ways, often to the point of becoming unreadable to the untrained eye. Daniel aims at transferring this same form of abstraction to his computer generated works with the process of Graffitization: The (computational) process that applies the stylistic principles of graffiti art to digital forms (media?).

This iteration of the Graffitizer series explores the material aspects of graffiti style with the use of drips, which are a characteristic that can be commonly seen in tags made with a marker. A vertically mounted drawing machine produces drawings with indian ink on paper. The ink continuously flows to the tip of a modified pump marker, resulting in a design made of dripping lines. The chaotic dripping of the ink leaves a permanent trace on the wall on which the machine is mounted and results in a pattern that emerges in time during the course of the exhibition.

The machine is driven by a software system that is being developed by the artist, in which he has implemented a series of procedures that model the gestures, the grammar of forms and some of the compositional rules that govern his process when drawing graffiti letters. The system allows one to easily combine such procedures algorithmically into sub-programs that generate a variety of designs that are consistent with Daniel’s hand-style but augment it with the ‘power’ of generative techniques.


Copies Non Conformes

Cécile Babiole

The installation Copies Non Conformes *(“Certified Inaccurate”) explores the erosion and mutations that take place in the reproduction of small sculptures of the 17 letters in the sentence: “JE NE DOIS PAS COPIER” (“I must not copy”). This line is inspired by the punishment commonly meted out to schoolchildren, who are ordered to copy fifty or a hundred times by hand prescriptions and proscriptions like “I must not talk in class”. In this case, the prohibition is not copied by hand but by a digital duplication process: each letter is modelized and printed in 3D, and the resulting object is then digitaized by a 3D scanner. This new model is reprinted, and so on and so forth, a certain number of times in a row. Because each subsequent generation accentuates the previous morphological alterations, the last reproductions become unrecognizable. Copies Non Conformes diverts the printer and scanner from their usual functions, using them instead to generate shapes unobtainable in any other way. And through the random distortion of the letters, information is either added or lost at each stage.

Copies Non Conformes might be glossed as expressing one of the paradoxes of our digital culture: on the one hand, we have the endless reproduction of information, and on the other, the physical media carrying that information (CDs, hard drives etc.) – and hence the information itself – are becoming increasingly fragile. Copies Non Conformes is in this sense a vanitas, a vision of the digital world in ruins – rather like Hubert Robert’s Vue Imaginaire de la grande galerie du Louvre en ruines, which he painted in 1796, the year the Louvre was closed due to structural defects only three years after the museum first opened to the public.

The artist will be present during the Creative Machine exhibition. She will carry on her piece on site, adding more lines to the ones already produced. The artist at work and the process of the letters erosion will be exposed as a weeklong performance.

Credits for “Copies Non Conformes”: Production Les Ondes with the support of ENSBA Paris – Pôle numérique (2013).