[artinfo] Fake Art

Eva Gyarmati egyarmati at c3.hu
Sat Jan 21 04:15:49 CET 2006

Fake Art:
an exhibit of fake abstract art and fake art criticism
to be held in The Faketropolitan Museum of Art, a
virtual museum which will come to
<http://www.sporkworld.org>www.sporkworld.org in
Spring 2006

Sporkworld.org will host a new collaborative exhibit
of computer-generated digital abstract paintings, to
open in Spring 2006. The exhibit will consist of
computer-generated paintings which are different on
each viewing, accompanied by computer-generated art
criticism, and a dynamically-generated soundtrack made
up of visitor comments about art, recorded in many

Artists may contribute to this project in four ways.
The first two options are for artist/programmers to
contribute programs to generate paintings or texts
about paintings, while the third option simply
requires recording your voice. The fourth option is a
call to photographers and visual artists to create
images of museum visitors.

Art Machine submissions may be created in Flash
(preferred), Shockwave, or another client-side web
technology (by arrangement). Crticism Machine
submissions may be in Flash, Shockwave, _Javascript,
or PHP, or another technology by arrangement.
Contributions to the soundtrack should be submitted in
MP3 format if possible, and otherwise as WAV files.
The images of museum visitors should be in JPG or PNG

Sporkworld will provide the gallery environment in
which the art is viewed, which will have a button for
each Art Machine and each Criticism Machine so that
users may see the machines generate new material. The
art generated by submitted Art Machines will be loaded
into picture frames in the virtual gallery, which
users can walk through using a scrolling interface.

Please send questions and submissions to Millie Niss
at <mailto:men2 at columbia.edu> men2 at columbia.edu before
April 30, 2006.

1. Submitting an art machine

Web programmers are invited to submit web-based
programs that produce a new abstract composition each
time the program is run. The resulting art can be in
any non-realistic, not strictly representational
style, and compositions may make use of images of
recognizable objects if they so desire. The
composition should rely on some kind of random
process, so that an infinite (or at least very large)
variety of compositions can be produced by each
program. Programs may attempt to imitate the style of
a well-known artist or may generate art in a style of
their own. The goal of this project is to produce
compositions (really meta-compositions) that are
attractive and look like believable art. We are
interested in programs which generate very simple,
spare compositions yet can produce a wide variety of
different effects, although programs which produce
more Baroque, detailed, and complex imagery are also
sought. Your program may be designed to generate a
specifi c style of composition, so that the results
look like variations on a human-designed theme, or
they may aim at generating the widest possible variety
of paintings. What we are not aiming at is results
that look very mathematical, like early computer
graphics. Programmers should try to make thier
machines create art which looks organic, emotional,
deliberately-designed, hallucinogenic, harmonious,
bleak, jarring, etc. Programmers/artists should do as
much thinking about design principles as about
mathematics or programming. We would like to see works
which have algorithms specially designed to produce
aesthetically pleasing (by whatever standard)
compositions, but we also would like to see what kinds
of compositions can be produced by very simple-minded

Examplea: A very simple art-generating program might
put a random number of overlapping squares on the
canvas, in various orientations. This is easily made
more flexible by making the squares come in different
colors, putting them on painted backgrounds, allowing
shapes other than squares, etc. etc. Bear in mind that
this sort of thing is the most basic possibility. (But
simple programs may be best at producing consistently
pleasing paintings or at imitating the style of a
known painter. For example, it is not too hard to see
how to make some kinds of fake Mondrian paintings.)
More complex programs might draw irregular curved
shapes, use patterns, incorporate written words or
small realistic images, or use complex gradients and
stacked translucent layers to create a more organic

Technical details: The most convenient format for
submissions is Flash. The program should produce a
composition of 500 pixels wide by 375 pixels high. The
art machine should be smaller than 200 Kb, and smaller
than 100 kb if possible. This size refers to how much
must be loaded at one time to run the program once. It
is acceptable for machines to use a larger library of
assets which are externally loaded, so long as only
200kb must be loaded each time a composition is
produced. The total size for each machine should be
under 2MB.

If the work is in Flash, it should have a function on
its main timeline called generate(), so that the main
gallery movie (to be provided by Sporkworld) can load
the art machines into frames and display them, along
with a button for generating a new composition (which
will call generate()). Works in Shockwave are also
easily accommodated.

We will make every attempt (assuming the art machine
is practical and meets the requirements) to accept art
machines which use other languages and technologies,
athough artists wanting to do this should be willing
to research how their work can be controlled from
Flash (e.g. via _Javascript and FSCommand, etc.). If
you wish to do a work using a technology other than
Flash, please email
<mailto:men2 at columbia.edu>men2 at columbia.edu as soon as
possible so that your technology may be incorporated
into the design of the gallery.

Please send a brief (less than one page; it could be
just a sentence or two) non-technical explanation of
the algorithm your machine uses along with the machine
itself. Viewers of the Fake Art exhibit will have
access to these explanations if they want to see how a
machine works, but the explanations wikll not appear
unless the viewer chooses to have the secret of any
particular machine revealed, and that will be possible
only after the art made by the machine has been shown.

2. Submitting an art theory/art criticism machine

This a call for programs which generate fake art
criticism/art theory texts to accompany the exhibit af
abstract art. You may aim for a ridiculous effect or
try to make a machine that creates texts that someone
might actually believe were written by a curator,
newspaper art critic, or expert on cultural theory.
Machines can range from very simple (choosing a random
sequence of canned sentences from a list, if the list
is long and well-constructed) or may make use of
sophisticated natural language processing. The results
do not have to make sense and may be poetic if you so
choose. The texts to be generated may be mock-academic
and theoretical, and may cite many sources, or may be
more direct, such as explanations of how the artist
supposedly came up with the idea for the painting
while taking a bath or what the painting means
politically, etc. Texts may purport to quote various
people (from expert art historians to the
man-on-the-street or a child at th e museum) who give
opinions on the art.

We are also very interested in machines that generate
texts that purport to be written by the artists

Technical details: If the machine is written in Flash,
it should consist of a 1 pixel by 1 pixel movie with a
white stage, which will be hidden from the viewer. The
program will have a generate() function on its main
timeline that returns the generated text as a string
of HTML. Alternatively, machines may be written in the
PHP server-side scripting language, in which case the
PHP page should return the HTML text via POST.

Please send a brief (less than one page; it could be
just a sentence or two) non-technical explanation of
the algorithm your machine uses along with the machine
itself. Viewers of the Fake Art exhibit will have
access to these explanations if they want to see how a
machine works, but the explanations wikll not appear
unless the viewer chooses to have the secret of any
particular machine revealed, and that will be possible
only after the text generated by the machine has been

Advanced Option for Brave Programmers: You are
challenged to make a combined Art Machine/Art
Criticism machine, in which the texts generated by the
Criticism Machine are based on the specific
characteristics of the particular composition that has
been generated by the Art Machine.

3. Contributing to the soundtrack of museum visitors'

The digital exhibit of Fake Art will be accompanied by
a soundtrack made up of overlapping voice samples. The
soundtrack is designed to simulate the sound of a
large crowd visiting the exhibit. The crowd will have
sophisticated art connoisseurs in it, but also small
children, people who hate art and are being dragged to
the museum by thier parents or spouse, people who make
fun of the art, people who make stupid comments about
art, people who are very emotional in their response,
etc. Some comments may not be directly related to the
art: you can record a child begging to go home,
someone asking where to find the restroom, someone who
has just stepped on someone else's foot, guards
telling visitors not to touch the artwork, etc. Voices
may include fragments of guided tours or lectures
about the paintings.

We are to imagine that this exhibit takes place in a
museum in a major world capital, where there are many
tourists. Accordingly, we would like to gather voices
speaking as many languages as possible. Your sounds
may contain sound effects other than voices but the
sounds should complement the voices.

Please produce your sounds in MP3 format (if possible)
or WAV format. Sounds should be no more than 1 minute
long (many should be shorter), but you may submit as
many sounds as you want.

4. Submitting museum visitor images

Images of the visitors to the virtual gallery are also
sought. These should be photographs or drawings in JPG
or PNG format with a resolution of 300 across by 500
high. Ideally, the people should be on a white or
transparent background so that they can easily be cut
out and placed in the gallery. Images of many kinds of
people in many kinds of clothing are desired. You may
also send nude visitors, so long as they are not
engaged in explicit lewd acts. You may include typical
tourist trappings in your images (guide books,
cameras, etc.) or instead send sophisticated
artistic-looking people, or bored groups of
schoolchildren, or any other people whom you would
like to see in the Faketropolitan Museum of Art, a
museum with free admission that does outreach to all
elements of the local community and has an
international reputation. Images of museum guards are
also welcome.

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