Sen­sa­tion and In­di­vid­u­a­tion in Gen­er­a­tive Art­works and Cau­casian Car­pets


Session Title:

  • Arabesque, Mandala, Algorithm: A Long History of Generative Art

Presentation Title:

  • Sen­sa­tion and In­di­vid­u­a­tion in Gen­er­a­tive Art­works and Cau­casian Car­pets




  • Panel: Arabesque, Mandala, Algorithm: A Long History of Generative Art

    This talk pur­sues a com­par­i­son in the last chap­ter of En­fold­ment and In­fin­ity: An Is­lamic Ge­neal­ogy of New Media Art, that com­pares two bod­ies of al­go­rith­mic art: con­tem­po­rary gen­er­a­tive art­works and 17th-cen­tury Cau­casian car­pets. Each of them re­sponds to new in­for­ma­tion and come up with re­sults that could not be pre­fig­ured in the al­go­rithm’s ini­tial state. Cau­casian car­pets re­tain qual­i­ties of nonor­ganic life, mol­e­c­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion, and ap­peal to sen­sa­tion. They ex­em­plify the cre­ative élan vital of art­works whose forms os­cil­late be­tween fig­u­ra­tive and ab­stract. The life of forms in these car­pets, in its em­pha­sis on self-or­ga­ni­za­tion rather than im­i­ta­tion, is mol­e­c­u­lar rather than molar. In these car­pets life seems to arise from any point what­ever, to self-or­ga­nize and mu­tate. Though the car­pets’ de­signs obey strict com­po­si­tional rules, they nev­er­the­less sug­gest the Open, in that the odd­ness and par­tic­u­lar­ity of the forms sug­gests they could have evolved dif­fer­ently. Fi­nally, I sug­gest that Cau­casian car­pets ad­dress not only cog­ni­tion, not only per­cep­tion, but sen­sa­tion di­rectly, in what Deleuze calls the Fig­ural. This is one of their most sub­ver­sive qual­i­ties.

    These ob­ser­va­tions about car­pets bring new cri­te­ria to art­works pro­duced with gen­er­a­tive soft­ware. Nonor­ganic life, an ap­peal to sen­sa­tion, the sub­ver­sion of or­na­ment all char­ac­ter­ize many con­tem­po­rary gen­er­a­tive art­works. The ques­tion that arises is, Where, in an al­go­rith­mic art­work, does in­di­vid­u­a­tion occur? In­di­vid­u­a­tion is the ac­tu­al­iza­tion of the vir­tual, a be­com­ing, a ma­te­ri­al­iza­tion of a life force from within. Cau­casian car­pets re­quired in­dus­trial-level de­sign and pro­duc­tion; in­di­vid­u­a­tion oc­curred at the level of de­sign. Sim­i­larly, in gen­er­a­tive art­work, we may seek in­di­vid­u­a­tion at the level of pro­gram­ming and of ma­te­r­ial ex­e­cu­tion.

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