Joint Meeting with the Colour Group

Mon, 27 Feb 2012

Joint Meeting with the Colour Group

2pm Wednesday 20 June 2007

Colour In Computer Art

British Computer Society
The Davidson Building
5 Southampton Street

Abstracts as provided by the speakers are shown below:

The Painting Fool - A First Look

Dr. Simon Colton
Imperial College
University of London

I'm interested in the question of what it means for a piece of software to be creative in the visual arts. In the talk, I will outline the notion of the creative tripod, where programs have to exhibit signs of skill, appreciation and imagination in order to be taken seriously as creative individuals. Most graphics programs used for the production of art concentrate entirely on enhancing the skill base of a human user. However, software such as Cohen's AARON could be said to have a degree of imagination and software such as Machado's NEvAr have a degree of appreciation. I will describe the current state of my SEPIA software and present some paintings that have resulted from using this software. I will also give some demonstrations of The Painting Fool (which uses SEPIA, and can be seen as my alter ego) putting together artworks. I'll present the first draft of my manifesto for software as art and of a manifesto for The Painting Fool. Naturally, the usage of colour has played a very important part in the development of SEPIA. I became interested in how to transfer art from the computer screen to the canvas, and two of the images I've produced have been painted by Brian Ashworth, an artist friend of mine. While Brian was able to mix the colours required because of his artistic abilities, I was interested in whether a novice painter (like me) could be shown not only where to put the paint on the canvas, but how to mix the paints to achieve the desired colours. With my business partner, Glen Pearson, this led to us setting up the CraftByNumbers service that produces full paint by numbers kits from a photograph provided by the customer. Part of the kit includes a colour mixing guide, which tells our customers how to mix triples of Daler-Rowney acrylics using our "dip and blob method" to achieve roughly 30 colours needed for their painting. In the talk, I'll discuss this, and describe the tortuous days that Glen and I spent mixing more than 1000 combinations of Daler-Rowney paints.

Dr. Simon Colton is a lecturer in Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Computing, Imperial College, London. His interests are in how to use AI techniques to produce programs that exhibit creative behaviour. He has written more than 70 publications on the topic of automatic scientific discovery, with an emphasis on mathematical creativity. His work has been recognised with a best paper award at the AAAI conference in 2000, and his PhD won the BCS/CPHC distinguished dissertation award in 2001. Firstly as a hobby, and more recently as work for the Machine Creations Ltd. company, he has developed various pieces of graphics software to explore the question of computational creativity in the visual arts. This has led to a commercial endeavour ( and an artistic endeavour ( Pieces produced by his software were exhibited in the "Computer Generated Art" group exhibition at Imperial College in 2006.

Colourfied: An Evolutionary Ecosystem of Colour
Jon McCormack, Centre for Electronic Media Art (CEMA)
Monash University

In biology, evolutionary synthesis is a process capable of generating unprecedented novelty, i.e. it is creative. It has been able to create things like prokaryotes, eukaryotes, higher multicellularity and language through a non-teleological process of replication and selection. We would like to adapt, on a metaphoric level, the mechanisms of biological evolution in order to develop new approaches to computational creativity. In Biology, the physical processes of replication and selection take place in an environment, populated by species that interact with and modify this environment, i.e. an ecosystem. Processes from biological ecosystems serve as inspiration for computational artificial ecosystems. The aim is to structure these artificial ecosystems in such a way that they exhibit novel discovery in a creative context rather than a biological one. Colourfield is a simple experiment in machine assisted creative discovery. It uses the metaphor of an adaptive ecosystem. A population of colours exists in a 1-dimensional world, and the colours are "grown" from a gene that expresses natural weights towards neighbouring colours along with an innate "personal" colour. The colours exist in a colour ecosystem, whereby luminance and chromatic values determine the supply of resources that feed an individual colour's growth (hence, its ability to change colour). Through a series of feedback mechanisms, and via an evolutionary process, colours adapt to their environment, often forming fields of colours that are aesthetically pleasing to the observer. The project is one of a number of experiments illustrating the usefulness of the ecosystem metaphor for creative discovery in artificial systems.

Jon McCormack (Monash University, Australia) is an Electronic Media Artist, co-director of the Centre for Electronic Media Art (CEMA) and Lecturer in the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Impossible Nature - a book about his work was published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in 2004.

Mutating Colour
William Latham, Goldsmiths College
University of London

William Latham will discuss the use of colour in his Computer Artworks during the period 1987 to 1993 at IBM UK Laboratories & more recently on the Mutator 2 Project from 2005 at Goldsmiths College (University of London) using "real world" DNA data input from the Bioinformatics Group at Imperial College. Originally trained as artist he will explain his approach to colour from his very early computer artworks through to the DNA automatically generated colour schemes in his multi-coloured recent animated films. Topics include:- Colour for labelling elements of structure, 3D texture & proportional colouring by banding, mutating RGB values & navigating parametric colour space, the relationship between form & colour, the importance of white, the tricky relationship between colour, lighting and material values to get the right look, the benefits of stealing colour & lighting schemes from the Masters (e.g. Rembrandt, Magritte), animating colour for emotional response or retinal pleasure, colour in art & colour in scientific visualisation. The work will be contextualised in relation to Yoichiro Kawaguchi, Karl Sims & other computer graphic artists. Using specific examples from films & images during this period, including examples of different colouring programming systems used. Excerpts from:- "A Sequence from the Evolution of Form", "Organic TV" & new 3 minute film called "The History the Species" will be shown.

From 1987 to 1994 William Latham worked for IBM in their Advanced Computer Graphics and Visualisation Division at IBM Hursley near Winchester , and his Mutation work achieved world wide recognition at SIGGRAPH and other events and a number of IBM patents were published. He was co-author with Stephen Todd of the book "Evolutionary Art and Computers" published by Academic Press that is still recognised as a key work in this area. His organic artworks and films were shown worldwide in major touring exhibitions of the UK , Germany , Japan and Australia. William was CEO & Creative Director of computer games developer Computer Artworks Ltd from 1994 to 2003, hit games produced included The THING (Playstation2, Xbox and PC) that sold in excess of one million units worldwide, and was Number 1 hit in the UK and Germany . The Thing was published by Vivendi Universal in USA and Europe, and by Konami in Japan and the Far East . (The Thing game was the sequel to the cult John Carpenter Film The THING starring Kurt Russell). In 2004, recognising the ongoing increase in games budgets and increasing new investment from financial organisations outside the games industry William founded Games Audit Ltd. Games Audit Ltd is a project management and audit operation for the games industry and offers a wide range of services. Clients include Ingenious, Add Partners, IDGVE. From 2005 to April 2007 Latham was Professor of Creative Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University and in April 07 became a Professor in The Computing Department at Goldsmiths College ( University of London ). He continues to remain CEO of Games Audit. William has an MA from The Royal College of Art and a BA from Oxford University.

Colour, Symbol and Ambiguity
Paul Brown, University of Sussex

I am not an intuitive colourist and tend to use colour in my work in a symbolic sense to "tag" different areas of an image and differentiate the image plane. In this talk I will discuss two recent time-based generative works – 4^16 – and – 4^15 Studies in Perception. In the former I attempted to find a set of four colours that would emphasise the ambiguity of a geometry that could be interpreted as having either a horizontal/vertical or diagonal construction. In the latter the colour (and most of the other controls governing the work) are random. Here I have been surprised by the consistency and quality of the colour in contradiction to my initial expectation that the work would often devolve into mud.

Paul Brown is an artist and writer who is based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. His pioneering work in the computational and generative art dates back to the early 1970's. He is currently the Chair of the Computer Arts Society and a visiting professor of art & technology at Sussex University where he is working on a project to evolve a robot that can draw.