Existential Friday NewsletterGenerative Art

v62: Generative Art Series 5 of 13 . . . The iterative path to where?

Pen Plotting Generative Art Random Circles p5js

Generative art is frequently an iterative process. I might start out with an idea of where I’m going, but that idea acts more as a direction than a destination.

Moving in some direction leads to unexpected outcomes. It’s easy to develop a number of different ideas on the way to arriving at the original one. Additionally, completing the original idea tends to generate new ideas.

Iteration is significant because it suggests that the end can’t be known. Maybe there isn’t an end at all. We’ve talked about “The Whole Big Thing” in the past. The idea behind the TWBT is that our idea of how things should be can become anxiety inducing and paralyzing.

The only thing we really have is this moment. Right now. Iteration is a way of triggering flow in moments.

My personal experience with iteration is that it’s impossible to know what comes next. All you can do is move in some direction and allow what’s next to work through you (magic) and unfold organically.

On to the pictures . . .

This week I started working on a sound wave visualization. In order to get there I needed to figure out the geometry behind lines through circles.

The first step was figuring out how to draw lines to resemble circles.

Generative Art Random Circles p5js

That led to a question about what it looks like with color.

Generative Art Random Circles p5js

Then there was an idea about putting in other circles.

Generative Art Random Circles p5js

And, of course, what they’d look like if they were hollow instead.

Generative Art Random Circles p5js

Then I started transferring them to files for pen plotting and got the first one plotted with more to come.

Pen Plotting Generative Art Random Circles p5js

Pen Plotting Generative Art Random Circles p5js

At the end of the day I still haven’t completed the original image, but I’ve found some great diversions along the way. That sounds strikingly like life.


Mirrors provide a way to see ourselves. Daniel Rozin is an artist and professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). His mirrors challenge the purpose of mirrors and give us a different way to see ourselves.

Sure, generative art is interesting, but have you heard of typewriter art?

I listen to a decent amount of old jazz and this Thelonious Monk song is what I’m listening to right now.

0 0 vote
Article Rating

Leave a Reply

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments