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Generative Arts Conference 2012 Lucca, Italy

January 6, 2013

I traveled to the Tuscan town of Lucca in December of 2012 to participate in 15th Generative Arts Conference. The schedule consisted of lectures, discussions, performances and installations by architects, artists, programmers, designers, biologists, historians and a variety of others. Each copy of the proceedings was personally dedicated to a GA2012 participant with a unique cover art design. Created in Basilica these designs are another variation of the Generative Scenatios of Lucca seen on the conference poster.

This is a version of Lucca generated by one of Celestino Soddu's city planning algorithms.

This is a version of Lucca generated by one of Celestino Soddu’s city planning algorithms.

At this event, there was a strong emphasis that “art” refers to the ancient Latin word Ars, with the motto “… Ars sine scientia nihil est” (art without science is nothing) – Jean Vignot, 1392. Everyone at the conference worked in interdisciplinary domains and had various opinions on what the term “Generative Art” means, or should mean. I will not rehash any of the debates here, many of the well formulated arguments can be found in the conference proceedings which should be available soon at the GA website. Just like everywhere else in Italy, the arguments ceased momentarily when it was time for coffee. No matter what problems Italy may seem to be having, they always get the coffee perfect.

Coffee every 45 minutes

“let’s uh… take a coffee?”

Pictured below is a wood sculpture by Massimo Gasperini. The designs are adapted from an old woodworking technique  in which one cuts concentric circles on a a board at a bevel angle and then stacks them to make a bowl. Using a wedge instead of a board results in a logarithmic spiral, and Gasperini exploits this in his practice. Using software that he wrote he draws outlines of segments to be cut on the wedges that are more complicated than the circles used in the traditional technique. He experiments with different angles and curves in software and then realizes the 3D shape in oak, cherry, linden, wengé or aformosia.

I Dreamed of Arboris

I Dreamed of Arboris

Below is an image of Marco Cardini interacting with his audio/visual system via gesture capture. It took me 10 minutes into the performance to realize that he was standing off to the side steering something that I thought looked like a ’90s era screen saver. It took me another 10 minutes to be convinced that he was actually controlling the thing. He did a pretty good job considering he only used one camera to do his cyber painting.

screen saver steering

Boris Magrini managed to rile everyone up with his talk on “Should generative art be political?”. Margrini hypothesized that the reason generative art has gained less attention in the contemporary and new media art worlds is that it deals mostly with abstract computer images. Making political statements is a major emphasis of many contemporary artworks and perhaps a reason why they garner attention, a general lack of this kind of activity from generative arts may explain why it spends less time in the limelight. Margrini cites historical works such as MEART by the SymbioticA Research Group and Wrong Browser by Jodi which contradict the idea that generative art is not political. The general consensus of the community at GA2012 seemed to be that generative art is meta-political and is more concerned with larger issues that are more complex than ones that typical contemporary artists can understand. At least no one was falling asleep.

political

Celestino Soddu and Enrica Colabella did a great job organizing, the food was always amazing the space was gorgeous and they really invited a lot of really cool people. There was talk of holding a workshop sometime this summer in Sardinia (as soon as I know anything I’ll relay it) as well as plugs for an upcoming conference CroArtScia2013 in Croatia and the first annual Art, Science and Technology conference in Israel.

San Micheletto

San Micheletto

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