Procedural Taxonomy: An Analytical Model for Artificial Aesthetics


Session Title:

  • Code and Generative Art

Presentation Title:

  • Procedural Taxonomy: An Analytical Model for Artificial Aesthetics



  • Session: Code and Generative Art

    This paper discusses an analytical model for the study of computational aesthetic artifacts. This work is motivated by the growing ubiquity of computational media, by the study of how remediation and procedurality transform the media, and by the understanding of the creative potential and uniqueness of computational tools. It also recognizes the need to define and establish a common terminology for all those that interact with these systems, either as consumers, producers, critics, educators, historians, etc.

    The starting point to this work is Espen Aarseth’s typology proposed in “Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature” (1997), defining seven variables and their eighteen possible values. We studied its adequacy for the analysis of ergodic visual and audiovisual pieces and adapted it with new variables or possible values, tailoring it to this broader field. We tested the new model in samples representative of diverse approaches to procedural art, design and other contemporary clusters of creative activity and aesthetic communication and we developed a control analysis, in order to assert the usability and usefulness of the model, its capacity for objective classification and the rigor of our analysis.

    We demonstrated the partial adequacy of Aarseth’s model for the study of artifacts beyond text-based systems, and expanded it to better suit the objects in study and circumvent its shortcomings. The new model produces a good description of the pieces, clustering them logically, reflecting stylistic and procedural affinities that probably wouldn’t be found if the study was solely focused in their physical, sensorial or superficial structures and in the established aesthetic analyses that can be developed from them, and for which we already have well-established resources. The similitudes revealed by this model are structural and procedural, they attest to the importance of computational characteristics in the aesthetic enjoyment of the works and to the weight of procedurality, both as conceptual grounding and as aesthetic focus, as an aesthetic pleasure in itself.