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Art By Algorithm: Computer Evolves New Artworks

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Artistic evolution.

A computer algorithm that modifies images by mimicking the rules of natural selection can work with people to evolve novel works of art.

Credit: Yasuhiro Suzuki/Nagoya University, Japan

Nagoya University researcher Yasuhiro Suzuki and colleagues have developed software that creates digital artworks using algorithms that mimic natural selection.

Suzuki says the researchers developed the software after learning how artistic methods are passed down through generations. "Paintings that have remained to the present were painted by scaling, rotating, and combining motifs that had already existed," he says.

To use the software, an artist first indicates the desired style of art and selects a picture from a few preloaded images to feed into an algorithm. The algorithm then mutates the image in different ways and generates images that either are removed or kept, depending on how closely they adhere to the user's initial stylistic choices. The process repeats until the user stops it to select an image they like.

The researchers tested the program with different sets of preferences and starting images, letting it run for up to 4,800 generations at a time. "Where algorithms do help is in the crafting of a system or situation which can produce interesting results," says School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston artist Kurt Ralske.

The Nagoya University researchers also are exploring whether they can evolve pieces that look similar to paintings by renowned artists.

From New Scientist
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