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Thread: Generative systems

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    tereg's Avatar
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    Default Generative systems

    So, I was reading news clips about a game that I'm anticipating, and then I came across this video that just blew me away. I love watching about stuff like this. And what was interesting was the game I was interested in was presented in the video, but game itself wasn't the center of the discussion. The game accentuated the subject that was being discussed, that being generative systems and algorithmic creativity.

    I'll explain a little bit about what I'm trying to get at before I put the link here. But I'd like to get some Socionic input about this, because I have an idea of what this represents as far as IM elements, but I want to hear what other people have to say about it.

    The premise behind generative systems is that you can create extremely complex designs and environments with very simple rule sets.

    This is counter-intuitive to a lot of what we do when we try to model things. We tend to take things that we see and observe (both of simple and complex nature) and try to compress it into very tidy, simple formulas and systems. But generative systems works in the opposite direction and decompresses very simple rules into very complex worlds.

    One way to illustrate this concept is with a model called cellular automaton. With cellular automaton, you have a two-dimensional grid and each square (or whatever shape you choose to fill the grid with) in the grid can have a finite number of states. For instance, the simplest example would be that each square on the grid can be in 2 states. It can be either "on" or "off". What determines whether a square is "on" or "off" is by establishing a set of rules that would be applied in "steps" over time. For instance, one rule could be that a square will go into an "on" state in the next "step" if 2 adjacent squares are "on", but a square will go "off" on the next "step" if it has 4 neighboring squares that are "on".

    Using these very simple rules you can create very complex and very visually stunning landscapes.

    One of the more popular examples of cellular automaton is Conway's Game of Life.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life

    In Conway's Game of Life, you have four rules:
    1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if by loneliness.
    2. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
    3. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives, unchanged, to the next generation.
    4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours comes to life.
    So, here's a visual example of what this will look like:



    And a grid that uses the same rules, but on a much larger scale:




    Here is a video of a variation Conway's Game of Life using these same rules, but instead of each square being "off" (dead) or "on" (alive), it can be in one of 8 different states.



    What's interesting about these is that if you start off with the same initial pattern, you will always get the same sequence when you start it. But, if you make even the slightest change in the pattern (even as little as one different square in the initial pattern) you will get something completely different when you start it. So these very complex systems are extremely fragile.

    The counter intuitiveness of generative systems is that instead of working towards an end result, you are really working with tweaking the original rules and original states and letting it take off and discovering new results with each initial state. You have no idea what the end result will be when you set the initial states, so you end up continuously discovering new ways of creating things.

    So anyways, this video I saw was with Brian Eno and Will Wright having an open discussion about generative systems and how they are used in the creative world of music, games, and art and how these things coincide.

    The video is an hour and a half long.

    http://fora.tv/fora/fora_player.php?c=355&u=0&t=&s=

    I think these concepts are just drenched in and .

    What do you think?
    INFj

    9w1 sp/sx

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    This stuff is really interesting. It reminds me of the Mandelbrot set. I think we have to be a little careful when we take some external *thing* (as opposed to the interpretation of the thing or certain aspects of the thing) and start assigning IM elements to it. However, overall, I tend to associate generative rules with and fascination with how one can get very complex stuff with simple rules seems to be "like" in a way. As soon as you look at it differently as a sort of stochastic problem of trying to get the chaotic stuff to do this or that, it flips and seems like with , but those are just really analogies...

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    tereg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    I think we have to be a little careful when we take some external *thing* (as opposed to the interpretation of the thing or certain aspects of the thing) and start assigning IM elements to it.
    Yeah, I was hoping to get more of an in-depth discussion about the metabolism and the workings of this process instead of just looking at the "thing", as you've said. I'm looking at this from the perspective that the system is a tool, and what varies is how the user can construct these initial states and let it go, and what goes in to determining if the pattern has any significance or worth, or how the user decides to manipulate the initial state (randomly or by way of some systematic approach) and if it does have any worth what and how that discovery affects our senses.

    I was hoping that it wouldn't come across as just "Hey guys, help me type generative systems" but looking at the type of processes that goes in to creating things with the system.

    Like, for instance, when Brian Eno is creating generative music. He starts off with something very simple, like two tracks that are playing out of phase, and fine tunes the initial point until something is created that strikes him. And I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the inner workings of this creative process.

    However, overall, I tend to associate generative rules with and fascination with how one can get very complex stuff with simple rules seems to be "like" in a way. As soon as you look at it differently as a sort of stochastic problem of trying to get the chaotic stuff to do this or that, it flips and seems like with , but those are just really analogies...
    That makes sense. And now that I see it like that, it's very interesting to me how seemingly fluid one block flows into the other, going from this fascination phase into a realization phase. (I can apply in my life how I will often achieve a fascination with something, but fail to reach a point where I really start to dig into the realization phase. I might dabble a bit in it, but it always seems like whatever I'm dabbling in has already been rehashed several iterations over.)

    The thing about all of this that is most interesting to me is just in the element of surprise and discovery. The fact that so many different things can be created with such a small rule structure. It's just utterly fascinating that these things that are so rich in sensual nature can be created in which neither the author nor the participants can really predict or comprehend how an environment will run from a given state. It's just really awesome.

    But I can't help but wonder about what the "next level" of application is for these kinds of systems. We have simulators, artificial intelligence, generative art, etc... but it seems like something will come along that we don't see at the moment and will use this premise and find something brand new and innovative with it. I dunno. I think I need some sleep.
    INFj

    9w1 sp/sx

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    Looks like somebody discovered chaos theory. The things you describe sound like the process of building a fractal.

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    Snomunegot munenori2's Avatar
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    You've got to be kidding me?!

    The same Brian Eno as this?

    Moonlight will fall
    Winter will end
    Harvest will come
    Your heart will mend

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    tereg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snegledmaca View Post
    Looks like somebody discovered chaos theory. The things you describe sound like the process of building a fractal.
    Well, I remember Jeff Goldblum talking about chaos theory in Jurassic Park. But, yes, seeing chaos theory in a real-world application other than a drop of water on the back of the hand, indeed.

    And yes, fractals are made using generative systems.

    Edit: That was 14 years ago when I first saw Jurassic Park! Holy crap!

    Edit2: Also, in the video, Will Wright talks about how in the early days of computing, people were hoping that faster computers would be able to model everything about the world, but chaos theory kind of threw that out the window. I'm paraphrasing, but he does address that.
    Last edited by tereg; 01-18-2008 at 12:43 PM.
    INFj

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    Quote Originally Posted by munenori2 View Post
    You've got to be kidding me?!

    The same Brian Eno as this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2WURHY3D4A
    Yes. The same Brian Eno as this...

    http://www.77millionpaintings.com/
    INFj

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    So I was thinking about this process that I go through, in which I find something interesting like this and then gradually lose interest in a short period of time.

    So, I was thinking about how I progress from this and mode into a and mode. And it seems to start off at a very high point (in the and phase) and it gradually slopes downward (into the and phase).

    So, here's what goes on in my mind, because I literally have gone through this progression in a matter of 2 days. And this will hold true for MANY MANY things in my life, unfortunately. It's just now, I can lay it out more clearly.

    "Oh, cool, here's a system that has an extremely simple set of rules that are already laid out or are easy to create (), and look at the incredibly rich landscapes and worlds you can create with that! (). I mean look at the things that have been created with it, in music, art, games. This is awesome. The possibilities are just about endless... think of the power of developing something like that... where can this go? (). I'd like to look into this."

    Ok... *downloads some free program that will model the systems*

    "So, ok, I can create the rules, no problem." (Does a few initial variations and lets the rules run) "Ok, this is pretty cool, but... well... there has to be a more efficient way of filtering out these initial states that aren't really interesting (). Hmm... it seems like all of these initial states I'm doing are really random and don't have any structure to it. So... hmm... I have all of these stating possibilities that I can use, but the scope feels too large... I want to be able to have a grasp as to how to bring some order or clarity in setting up the rules and grid structure and having an understanding to some degree about what kinds of visual things I can create () instead of being so seeingly random about it. Wow, this is more tedious than I thought. Also, it seems as though the kind of simple things that I'm creating has already been done several times over. (Reads some more online articles about more elaborate variations of the system). Ok, so how do I get from what I'm doing now, and developing towards that? This feels almost futile, I don't feel like I'm doing anything that hasn't already been done. And I don't really know how to develop my knowledge in this area without some sort of formal instruction, I suppose. Rome wasn't built in a day, I know, but, man... I mean, this stuff is still very very interesting, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure that I can develop it in some sort of interesting way without a lot of frustration and wasting a lot of energy and time that I'm not sure I have the patience for (?) "

    See what I mean? I do this kind of thing with just about every thing that really piques my interest. I go through some sort of variation of this process. That's frustrating.
    INFj

    9w1 sp/sx

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