In what follows three modes are presented as characteristics of procedures
used in computer art: Relations between the humans at interfaces, programming
and computing processes are shaped by generative, hypertextual and
In Evolutionary Art (see chap IV.3.1,
IV.3.2) the selections in the course of a basically infinite computing
process are executed either as parts of the programmed selections between
possibilities, or, alternatively, by the observers when they take over
the selection in the manner provided by the program. 1
Draves, Scott: Electric
Sheep, computer network, internet, screensaver, 1999.
Screenshots of phases following one after another (November 2012).
The programs consist of systems determining the generative procedures.
In Evolutionary Art the results of preceding processes are transformed
in the course of the computing and alternatives are offered to the following
generating phases. The output media present these processes in the time
dimension (time-based media) and offer observers interfaces to select
alternatives. Despite these chances for selections by observers the programmed
computing process remains the leading "agent": The observer
is enabled only to select one of the alternatives preconditioned by the
programmed generative procedure. In cases when observers don´t intervene
the system selects one of these alternatives. If an observer takes the
role of an "agent" then he does not interrupt the computing
process but becomes an initiator co-determining the following generations.
Observers monitor the largest portion of the generating process as "patients"
(as passive observers of the computing process). 2
Evolutionary Art is a variant of Generative Art. The term `generative´
designates transformative procedures without determined end: The process
of the transformations of the transformed is the path and the goal.
In the structures of databases
for hypertexts observer operations (see chap. V.1 with ann.1) are integrated
as the actions of cooperating participants (see chap. VI.2.3) deciding
on the selection of texts. Their division of texts in sections are saved
on cards or "nodes". These parts are designated by "labels"
or "topics" and connected by links. 3 These
processes are stored on servers. On terminals the stored parts can be
recalled and participants can add new parts. The participants are "agents",
and the database is the collective memory of the participants. The machine
memory of a hypertext database is "patient" until the database-external
"agents" activate it to open stored data and to store new inputs.
A machine memory with digital writing systems initiates, modificates and
augments the participants´ cognitive capabilities: "Augmenting
Human Intellect". 4
Bauer, René/Maier, Joachim: nic-las,
since 1999, web project.
In the hypertextual procedure the roles of "agent" and "patient"
are distributed contrary to the generative procedures: The main actor
of hypertextual procedures is the observer connecting himself with other
participants. Compared to elder writing systems and established uses of
language the participants of hypertext systems use their language competence
and the database in a modified communication system. For the participants
their coordinations of signs with meanings continue to be a fundamental
factor during all their actions on terminals. In contrary to the hypertextual
systems, in generative projects the computing processes intitialised by
codes cause the output media to confront observers with a machine independently
producing changing formations. Toward this generating "agent"
and its output observers behave "patient": They try to reconstruct
the scale of the output possibilities meanwhile they follow several phases
of the generation process.
Meanwhile in hypertextual systems codes are used to connect stored text
characters with regard to semantic fields established by the everyday
language use, generative procedures are constituted by a computing process
being controlled by a program: The programming code contains either no
signs being precoded in computer-external contexts, or it uses code elements
either to integrate precoded signs into the generation process as moving
signs or to transform the signs´ outlines with desemantising effects.
In hypertextual systems the "algorithmic
signs" 5 are used in links, anchors, etc. and integrated
in texts as a means of the coordination of semantic fields, meanwhile
the "algorithmic signs" are fundamental in programs initialising
generative computing processes controlling output media. Observers can
investigate the time-based output of generative projects concerning the
relations between the program and its realisations: The recursion to the
technical configurations is a plausible observing operation (see chap.
V.1 with ann.1) to be able to follow the ouput of generative procedures,
meanwhile hypertextually organised databases sustain the semantics and
the participant´s memory function. The results of computing processes
initialised by generative programs are not made to fulfill always the
observers´ expectations. The output either provokes indifferent
and wait-and-see observing operations, or it causes disturbing and investigating
familiar perception patterns challenging the observers´ cognitive
capabilities, meanwhile the hypertexts simplify and augment the uses of
"semantic webs" 6 integrating precoded semantic
fields as they were established in elder communication media.
Today three-dimensional simulations
can be developed on personal computers with animation programs. The programs
include elements as modules like the ones presented in the chapters IV.2.1.2
and IV.2.1.3. Designers construct 3D objects in using these program modules.
Then for these objects points of views are selected for inclusions in
film sequences. 7 In the development of a film animation
designers choose and test different states of an object meanwhile they
follow artistic criteria and the storyboard´s notations: Its hand-made
sketches (see chap. IV.3.1) present the specifications for the planned
image sequences. In realising the sequences of a storyboard designers
mediate the modular possibilities of an animation program with the patterns
used in human perception to recognise objects and movements.
In the eighties an animation designer chose the perspective and sizes
of a three-dimensional object processed with programs for frame models,
polygon surfaces and with methods to smooth the polygons as well as for
surface qualities like texture, colour, light reflections and shading.
Since the midst of the nineties animation programs for personal computers
integrate these procedures together with further image editing procedures
in one system. Since then the designers of film animations use frequently
two-dimensional image templates as basic elements. Designers can variate
the selection possibilities of an animation program´ s modules in
their efforts to follow cinematographic and aesthetic criteria in the
process to find the best variants as realisations of storyboards. When
a designer jumps back and forth between the visual perception of provisional
results and an adjusting control of the program´s modules then also
the roles of "agents" and "patients" change between
the designer and the computer. This change is typical for working processes
with "modular" procedures on which Lev Manovich focused his
investigation of "Info-Aesthetics". 8
For the animations of computer games designers include processed 3D elements
in the game engine´s databases and program possible courses of gameplays
by following the criteria of immersion (see chap. VII.1.3 with ann.76).
Meanwhile the spectators of films with computer animations view the results
of a modular organized production in the position of "patients"
only, players of computer games explore the 3D worlds and `meet´
the simulated bodies and objects from several sides and points of view
(see chap. VI.1.3.1): The modular procedure is a precondition for the
playing "agent" enabling him to view objects in different angles
and to experience some of these objects as ennemies (f.e. EverQuest,
Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game by Verant Interactive,
Verant Interactive: EverQuest, 1999, MMORPG.
In modular procedures the software supports possibilities to develop
virtual worlds step by step and from decision to decision by following
artistic criteria, meanwhile in Generative Art artistic criteria can only
be a part of decision-making processes in programming, and beside
some possibilities for selections by observers are excluded when
the programmed algorithms are unfolded by computing processes. However
in hypertextual procedures the links are placed by interventions in texts:
For links and anchors the codes controlling connections and concatenations
are inserted by participants between (parts of) texts adhering to semantic
criteria. In hypertexts the effects of functional elements are decisive
on a semantic level, meanwhile in Generative Art the focus of the observer´s
attention is directed to the relations between the code and the presentations
of output media being generated in computing processes. Hypertextual procedures
are activated by human interventions into text structures: Hypertexts
don´t surprise observers by an unfolding of computing processes
without human interventions, in contrary to Generative Art and its predecessor,
the permutational computer literature (see chap III.1.2, III.1.3, VI.2).
Agent-patient-relations for the three modes to use
computing processes in Computer Art.
Dr. Thomas Dreher
Germany. Homepage with numerous articles
on art history since the sixties, a. o. on Concept Art and Intermedia
Do you want to send us your opinion or a tip? Then send us an e-mail.
1 Cf. Sims, Karl: Generative Images, 1993, reactive installation,
in: see chap. IV.3.2 with ann.22-25; Draves, Scott: Electric Sheep, 1999,
computer network, internet, screensaver, in: see chap. IV.3.3. back
2 Seifert: Co-Evolution 2008, p.12: "Agent and
patient are defined as relata of the action relation. In an action relation
`x acts upon y´ the relatum x is called `the agent´ and y
`the patient´, if x acts upon y...As exemplified by Mario Bunge´s
definition of terms such as `action´ and `interaction´, the
meanings of `action´ and `interaction´ encompass human and
non-human actions." (Cf. Bunge: Science 1998, p.41,310,463s.) back
3 Labels ("Etiketten")/topics: Kuhlen: Hypertext
1991, p.87,89s.; Bolter: Space 2001, p.29.
Node: "A node is something through which other things pass, and which
is created by their passage." (Slatin: Hypertext 1991, p.162). back
4 Engelbart: Intellect 1962, see chap. VI.2.1. back
5 Dreher: Art 2005/2007, chap. V.2; Nake: Zeichen 2001.
7 Cf. Lev Manovich on "After Effects" (since
1993): Manovich: After Effects Part I & II 2006; Manovich: Software
2008, Part 2, Chapter 3, p.110-193. back
8 Manovich: Software 2008, Part 2, Chapter 4, p.212:
"...the animator sets the initial parameters, runs the model, adjusts
the parameters, and repeats this production loop until she is satisfied
with the result...the animator maintains significant control."
Info-Aesthetics: Manovich: Info-Aesthetics 2001.
Modularity: Manovich: Language 2001, p.30s.,136-141,289; Manovich: Software
2008, Part 3, Chapter 5, p.246-261. back