Algorithmic art is a direct fusion of science, technology, engineering and maths. It also has strong STEM dimensions such as pattern, structure, measurements and modeling.
Algorithmic art predates the rise of digital technology. Early examples include Islamic design practices evident in tessellated tiles adorning mosques, and the innovation of linear, single-point perspective in Renaissance art and design from the 15th century onwards found in paintings, church murals, architecture and gardens. These design practices involved algorithms which incorporated mathematical techniques to achieve aesthetic harmony and balance, and/or emphasise specific beauty ideals and proportion.
Mathematics was also the launching pad for the algorithmic art pioneered in the late 1960s which incorporated computers, such as George Nees’ plotter-like systems controlled by a computer.
A prominent type of algorithmic art that we see today uses computers and has a wide range of outcomes, incorporating uniform shapes, repetitions, patterns, symmetry, tessellations, and fractals – all derived from code. ‘Code’ is the set of rules or instructions created by the ‘programmer’ or, in this case, the artist. Producing code can be a repetitive and highly complex task, but it can create results that cannot be achieved by hand. The outcomes of coding can also be interactive, and this leads many artists to explore themes surrounding our relationship to technology and its potential future implications.
As technology advances so too do the possibilities of algorithmic art, bringing computers to the forefront of contemporary art materials, processes and subjects. The chosen artworks in this section speak to the breadth of possibility for art in the digital and online realm. Like all art, algorithmic artworks reflect the times and cultural conditions in which they are produced.