Generative art is not new, it thrives in the soil of NFT


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Blockchain and NFT give generative art an unprecedented opportunity for expression.

Original title: “Generative Art: Growing Strongly in the Soil of NFT”
Written by: cocafe

Generative Art, English as Generative Art, is the product of the combination of computer technology and art. Its generation is not directly created by humans, but through algorithms to generate artworks. Algorithms have a set of rules that can be used freely within the rules, and finally a unique work is obtained, which also represents a certain concept of the artist to a certain extent.

Generative art itself is not a new phenomenon, it started in the 1960s. It is also related to the development of various artistic trends of thought at that time. For example, it is compatible with Dadaism in some aspects. Dadaism pursues an interesting state: a sober irrational state, the pursuit of casual art. Dadaism itself is “anti-art.” It doesn’t like the traditional aesthetic order, and is more interested in randomness and accident itself. In 1984, the Museum of Modern Arts gave plpan Schwartz, a pioneer of generative art, the opportunity to display it and let generative art enter the stage.

Untitled, Vera Molnár, 1985

Combination of generative art and computer technology

Firstly, from the perspective of art development itself, generative art itself has been an important theme of art development in the past 50 years. Secondly, with the development of computer technology, generative art and computers have found a point of integration, which gives generative art a new way of expression.

Cézanne, the pioneer of modern art, was an important painter in art history, and he had an important influence on the later Matisse and Picasso. Modern art began to move towards modern expression, instead of pursuing copying and similarity. In this process, art has entered a diversified stage, including futurism and constructivism, which is keen on machine aesthetics and technology; Dadaism, which pays attention to autonomy and randomness; and new plasticism that boldly uses geometric shapes…

These are the soil for the development of generative art, and it does not come out of thin air. Nowadays, digital information has been embedded in people’s lives, and people are becoming familiar with digital objects. With the advent of all this, people are transforming from an industrial society to a digital society, and people’s work, life, and entertainment have also undergone fundamental changes, which also reshapes people’s views on art.

By the end of the 1990s, Murial Cooper, Ben Fry, Casey Reas and others promoted the birth of the digital art platform “Processing”. It greatly reduces the threshold for artists to enter the generative art. Artists don’t have to worry about expensive hardware or superb programming skills. “Processing” software promotes the development of generative art. Among them, an artist Jared Tarbell (also one of the co-founders of Etsy) uses “Processing” software to create some very powerful generative art.

Generative art is not new, it thrives in the soil of NFT Bubble Chamber, Jared Tarbell, 2003

In the view of art history expert Jason Bailey, Tarbell’s work is “a typical representative of the duality of chaos and control. It has a strong visual complexity. It slowly emerges from the simple, making people feel that it is more like from the soil. It grows, not from algorithms.” In other words, generative art has reached a certain level, and it looks like a natural work.

In recent years, with the gradual development of artificial intelligence, the evolution of generative art has continued. In the artistic creation based on artificial intelligence, some works have also been born. In 2014, GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) used machine learning algorithms to build new forms of literature, poetry and art, including generative art. GAN is composed of two neural networks. One is the “generator” and the other is the “discriminator”. The generator will obtain a large amount of painting materials, and then is responsible for creating the work, and the second discriminator is responsible for identifying the uniqueness of the work. Through AI, works with unique styles can be created.

Robbie Barat uses GAN to create and generate some very lively works of art, such as the following paintings:

Generative art is not new, it thrives in the soil of NFT AI Generated Landscape #6, Robbie Barrat, 2018

In short, the development of computer technology has given generative art new practical tools and new ways of expression. In the context of modern art, art is eclectic, it is creation, not beauty is art. The unique creation is art itself.

Therefore, the combination of computer technology and art has produced interesting new art forms, including generative art. Generative art itself makes full use of computer technology, but it does not mean that it is completely random. It is designed by artists and set certain rules, but under controlled rules, there is a certain degree of randomness. This in itself is also a way of artistic expression.

In this case, the creator does not completely control the direction of the art. Although the code is written, there is a certain degree of machine autonomy and randomness. These accidents make the art unique, and at the same time, it also reflects the artist’s ideas. , Is not entirely machine-generated.

Therefore, generative art is a new artistic expression that combines the inspiration of machines and artists in the digital age. One advantage of using generative art is that the artist can make more complex attempts. When the artist wants to repeat something, using the machine can save a lot of time. According to the description of art history expert Jason Bailey, at the end of the 1960s, some artists began to experiment with this kind of art, such as Georg Nees and Frieder Nake. They print out their work on a printer.

Generative art is not new, it thrives in the soil of NFT Hommage à Pap Klee, Frieder Nake, 1965

When generative art meets blockchain

Generative art is an inevitable product of the development of the digital age to a certain extent. In the industrial age, people used industrial materials (steel, concrete, glass, plastic) to produce various industrial products, etc. These industrial materials build our buildings and daily necessities. In the information age, humans consume a lot of time in the software environment. Social interaction, games, news reading, shopping, taxi rides, etc. all rely on software. Coding is reshaping the various relationships in human life and production.

In the view of generative artist Tyler Hobbs (the creator of the Fidenza series), materials are very important to art. They are not neutral. They are as influential as architects. He believes that steel and concrete have constructed modern cities, and their density has shaped our way of life. The towering steel and concrete walls exude a hard, unfamiliar and unforgiving atmosphere.

Tyler Hobbs also believes that computer programming is not a neutral medium. It has a modern CPU architecture, an operating system, programming language, web browser, UI, etc., as well as its own limitations and preferences. For artists, it is the core material of the information age. Under such circumstances, artists are forced to use computer language to complete their expressions. In this process, the artist and the software struggle with each other and finally gain a deep understanding. Therefore, Tyler Hobbs believes that artists who have broadened the meaning of steel, concrete and glass in the past will also change our concept of software in the future.

Generative art is not new, it thrives in the soil of NFT Fidenza #313, Generative Artwork by Tyler Hobbs

From the creation of Tyler Hobbs, he carried out a lot of careful design, but gave the program a certain degree of randomness. The program focuses on structured curves and building blocks, but it has many possibilities in terms of texture, color, proportion, organization, etc., which makes it rich in variety and not completely under the control of the artist.

As the blockchain infrastructure continues to mature, artists are conducting various experiments on the Ethereum blockchain. Generative art in the encryption era is an emerging art form. Generative art has existed since the 1960s, and now it has encountered the blockchain, which gives it unprecedented opportunities for expression.

In the past generative art, in order to obtain “good” works, artists first had a “selection” process. Artists try various outputs, and then choose the favorite set before showing it to the public. Today in the field of generative art, artists create generation scripts written into the Ethereum blockchain to make them immutable and verifiable, and can choose how many times to generate the output. These output works become NFT, and then generated to the collectors. In such multiple output processes, no one will know exactly what happened, and there is a certain degree of randomness here.

Of course, this also faces the problem of how to achieve high-quality works of art. This requires a good design of the generated algorithm, which in itself is a quality assurance process. In the process of creating Fidenza’s work, Tyler Hobbs himself spent about 2 months repeatedly experimenting with this process to increase the room for improvement. He believes that artists need to balance the quality and diversity of standardization. On the one hand, they must plan for a certain integrity and on the other hand, they must also realize individuality. In the process, these are not easy things.

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