How to Hack a Painting – Generative Art

In Hackers and Painters, Paul Graham famously linked coding and the visual arts. In this talk, I’ll explain how to do both at once.

Through the Processing framework, Clojure, and careful observation, it’s possible to simulate watercolor paints and other media. I will walk the audience through the observation of real watercolor paint, breaking down the mental model we can use to think about its shape, texture, and qualities. Next, we will translate that mental model into a Clojure program capable of generating watercolor effects.

Special attention will be paid to probability distributions, as randomness is the key to pleasing effects. With the basics established, we can dive into textures and the blending of multiple colors. Finally, I will demonstrate how to combine everything to create a finished generative work of art, capable of generating a stream of unique but aesthetically related images.

Tyler Hobbs is a generative artist from Austin, Texas. His work focuses on the interplay of randomness and structure, and frequently references paints, plants, landscapes, and naturally occurring patterns. Prior to becoming an artist, Tyler was a primary developer of Apache Cassandra, an open source, high performance, distributed database. Tyler received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

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