Generative Creativity - Lecture 3:
Dice Games

How it used to be done

With its flexibility and programmability, the multi-media computer is an ideal tool for generative creativity.

But prior to the computational era, GC meant using some other sort of configurable mechanism.

The spirograph

Spirograph applet

Spirograph applet


See also


Canonic composition

Slightly further back in time...

15th century canonic composition involved algorithmic specification for accompaniment parts.

The prevailing method was to write out a single voice part and to give instructions to the singers to derive the additional voices from it. The instruction or rule by which these further parts were derived was called a canon, which means `rule' or `law.' For example, the second voice might be instructed to sing the same melody starting a certain number of beats or measures after the original; the second voice might be an inversion of the first or it might be a retrograde [etc.] (Grout and Palisca, p. 166).

Mozart's Dice Game



GC in installation-form.

John Cage, 4'33''

Cage's visit to an anechoic (sound-deadened) chamber in the 1940s inspired the thought that there is no such thing as pure silence. (In the chamber he was able to `hear' the sound of his own blood circulation.) He subsequently `composed' his most famous/notorious piece: 4'33'.

At its first performance in 1952, the `performer' sat down at the piano, and keeping track of the time on a stopwatch, turned the pages of the score, occasionally closing/opening the piano lid. Cage's idea was that anyone listening intently would have heard sounds, although not the ones they were expecting to hear.

Also relevant is Cage's `Reunion' installation. This made use of a photo-receptor equipped chessboard. Every time a player makes a move, a different sound is triggered.

Jackson Pollack

Jackson Pollack's drip paintings can be viewed as a kind of GC.

He would lay large canvases on the floor and then wander around pouring, splattering and dropping paint on to them.

In the case of `Enchanted Forest' (next slide) Pollack used household black and red enamel.

Enchanted Forest

Tinguely's Méta-matic

Jean Tinguely produced `meta-matic' assemblages with wires, wood sticks, cardboard, metal disks, pulleys, gears and ropes. These developed rotations in space and sometimes broke down.

Tinguely in his studio

Tinguely culled paintings from his machines (which he signed).

Meta-matic explosion




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