Emergent Art
June 6, 2005 7:43 AM   Subscribe

Help me make pretty pictures! For years I have been interested in Cellular automatas and other types of software that use algorithms to make some sort of graphic output. Now I'm looking for some software to make my own.

I'm looking for something that will allow me to take some sort of statistical input (Chicago real estate prices 1978-88, bust size of playboy playmates 1964-74, etc), enter them in, pick an algorithm, adjust some parameters, then enjoy the "art."

I would like a wide variety of possible outputs, though I understand that with increased flexibity come a steeper learning curve, so I would like something that doesn't really require a whole lot of coding experience.

posted by sourwookie to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
design by numbers is the closest i know of, but that's probably way too much like programming.

there are many fractal generation programs, but i don't think they take statistical input data.

one approach is to use existing programs not intended for "art", like standard plotting/analysis packages, and play with the parameters to get "glitchy" results - push the software past where it's normally used and into the abstract. then screenshot that and play with it inside photoshop/gimp.

sorry i don't have a good answer, but i think what you're asking for doesn't exist because it would be too constraining - you're limited to whatever style the programmer thought of. it's very difficult (impossible, currently?) to write something that would change style depending on "random" input. but hopefully i'm wrong :o)
posted by andrew cooke at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2005

The first thing that came to mind (before I read the More Inside) was proce55ing but it probably involves more coding than you have in mind.
posted by philscience at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2005

sorry - i should have mentioned processing rather than dbn - processing is the successor to dbn
posted by andrew cooke at 8:55 AM on June 6, 2005

MIT's StarLogo has a feature where you can create 'flocks' of turtles that could be used to generate patterns, based on statistical samples. Like the answers above, however, this would require some programming. Fun, though, and not difficult - my son (now 8 years old) can program in StarLogo.
posted by veedubya at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2005

I know Mathematica has been used extensively for this. There's a web gallery somewhere in there that shows all the art and even fabric that's been created using Mathematica.

In fact, I think Steven Wolfram's obsession with cellular automata is what birthed Mathematica.

I'm sure if you dig around on their site, you'll find some plug ins and such to do all sorts of graphic conversions. However, I know the main program is ridiculously expensive.

Caveat: I know this because I worked for them back in college. I have no idea how to use the actual software nor how easy it is to use.
posted by Gucky at 12:09 PM on June 6, 2005

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