30 July 2014

Art by Algorithm

A computer algorithm that modifies images by mimicking the rules of natural selection can work with people to evolve novel works of art. A new breed of art has evolved. A computer program has been built that creates digital artworks using algorithms that mimic natural selection. Researchers at Nagoya University in Japan built the software after learning how artistic methods are passed down through generations. Paintings that have remained to the present were painted by scaling, rotating and combining motifs that had already existed. This appeared to echo the process of biological evolution, in which traits are inherited and altered from parent to child.

To use the program, a person first indicates the style of art that they like. Then they select a picture from a few preloaded images to feed into an algorithm. The algorithm mutates the image in different ways: chopping it in half, overlaying it on another image or randomly altering it. The resulting images are either culled or kept depending on how closely they adhere to the user's initial stylistic choices, and the process repeats. The person can stop the process at any time and select an image they like, or let it keep running. Finally, the person adds colour to the image, as the program currently manipulates the images in black and white.

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