Aesthetics of Adaptive Behaviors in Agent-based Art

  • ©ISEA2016: 22nd International Symposium on Electronic Art, Sofian Audry and Amílcar Cardoso, Aesthetics of Adaptive Behaviors in Agent-based Art


Session Title:

  • AI and Cybernetics

Presentation Title:

  • Aesthetics of Adaptive Behaviors in Agent-based Art



  • Amílcar Cardoso -
    • University of Coimbra
    • Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave



  • Since the post-war era, a number of artists have been exploring the use of embodied, artificial agents, in parallel to scientific research associated to Computer Science in domains such as Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life. While notions of adaptation and learning have been an extremely important component of that research, artists and media theorists seem to have focused on the concept of emergence. Whereas emergence offers a rich ground for artmaking, adaptation is an equally important, yet complementary dimension of it. In an effort to re-position adaptive systems within the theoretical and practical field of agent-based artworks, an aesthetics of computationally adaptive artistic installations is proposed in this article. To do so, I examine (1) the historical context surrounding adaptive systems; (2) its relationship with the concept of emergence; and (3) the aesthetic potential of Machine Learning algorithms by examining their intrinsic characteristics. An aesthetic framework based on the morphological aspects of the temporal unfolding of agent behaviors is offered as a tool to comprehend both adaptive and non-adaptive behaviors in works of art.

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