Algorithmic Art.

Inspiration comes from many places, and art can come from the unlikeliest sources. If you want to generate unexpected and novel pieces of art from algorithms and creative inputs, computer-generated art can do just that. Simply type in the things you want the algorithm to consider, and it will produce algorithmic art for you. 


Read on to explore how to create algorithmic art, along with a brief history and some famous examples of algorithm artists.

Generative white and grey psychedelic style pattern

What is Algorithmic Design?


Algorithm art is a form of generative art created with a predefined criteria put into an algorithm. Users have a say on what the input criteria is, but not on the outcome. The algorithmic art generator comes up with that itself.


AI-generated art and algorithmically generated art are not the same thing. AI art uses machine learning techniques, whereas algorithm art – as the name suggests – uses algorithms. With this, algorithmic generative art places a great emphasis on randomness and geometry.


The Different Algorithmic Art Approaches.


There are different approaches to algorithm art, which include:


  • Live coding – a real-time improvisational coding technique that allows for programmers to dialogue with the audience and coding process.
  • Algorithmic composition – the creation of sound using instructions input into an algorithm.
  • Generative algorithms – algorithmically created visual patterns.


Types of Algorithm-Generated Art.


There isn’t just one type of algorithmic art. It can include:


  • Cellular automata – a constant state of a set of cells that begins with a seed that can be either a single cell or several different ones.
  • Fractal art – art made from repeating detailed patterns.
  • Genetic/evolutionary art – creates images in stages, where the outcome of each stage (or cycle) is the beginning point of the next.

Algorithmic Art Examples


The history of algorithmic art goes back a long way – as far back as the Islamic Golden Age and the Renaissance. Both used mathematics to create geometric patterns. But that’s just the pre-history – the foundation. 


The movement really exploded in its current form in the 1960s with the works of Georg Nees, Manfred Mohr, and A. Michael Noll who used a computer-controlled plotter (a printer that interprets computer commands into lined drawings). It was Sonia Kandy Sheridan’s program at Chicago’s prestigious Art Institute in the 70s that sky-rocketed the field to new heights. These algorithm artists were referred to as ‘algorists’. 


Later, Roman Verostko and his crew created a new form of the art. Until this point, plotters created the art. Now creations were being designed in the computer’s memory, which made it ‘digital art’. 


Overview of Notable Algorists.


  • Roman Verostko – a pioneer in the field who created unique visuals with oriental brushes in a plotter.
  • George Nees – a mathematician who made his drawings on the early flatbed drawing machines. He has also written extensively on the topic.
  • A Michael Knoll – one of the first creators of digital artwork and an influential figure in the field, having participated at one of the first exhibitions.


How to Make Your Own Algorithmic Art.


There are two approaches to computer generated art – specific or non-specific. Specific means the artist has a goal in mind, whilst the latter involves playing around to see what they come up with.


Coding is a key element of the process, with JavaScript being one of the commonly used code languages. But this is aimed at experienced computer programmers, rather than being a universal art method.

A more widely accessible way of creating computer generated art is through existing AI generators like Firefly. This is different to designing algorithms for art, but it allows you to create images even if you don’t have the technical coding experience, which means you can experiment with new ideas. 


You can do this for yourself using Adobe Firefly. Simply type in text prompts outlining the subject and style you want, and watch your creation come to life in an instant. You can then edit the image to your liking, such as by adding text to it, recolouring it, and more.


Discover more with Adobe Firefly >

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