The Computer Artist and Art Critic

J. C. Sprott


For decades, the generation of art by machines has fascinated both scientists and artists. In this chapter, I describe how modern computers can generate and evaluate fractal patterns. The patterns are the products of mathematical feedback loops, better known to mathematicians as iterated maps and iterated function systems. The computer solves the equations with random choices of parameters and thereby produces an unlimited variety of patterns. These patterns can be characterized by numerical quantities known as the Lyapunov exponent and the fractal dimension. In studies with human subjects, I have found a correlation between these quantities and the aesthetic quality of the patterns. This suggests that the computer can be taught to generate fractal patterns that appeal to humans. I provide computer code and examples of the patterns produced by this technique. I also discuss the related problem of using a computer to evaluate art produced by humans. The future of these methods holds unlimited promise.

Ref: J. C. Sprott, in "Fractal Horizons: The Future Use of Fractals", Clifford A. Pickover, ed., St. Martin's Press: New York (1996), pp. 77-115

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