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id ga9911
authors Riley, Howard
year 1999
title Semiotics and Generative Art
source International Conference on Generative Art
summary The paper begins with a brief explanation of David Marr’s computational theory of visual perception, and his key terms. Marr argued that vision consists in the algorithmic transformation of retinal images so as to produce output of viewer-centred and object-centred representations from an input at the retinae. Those two kinds of output, the viewer-centred and the object-centred representations, enable us to negotiate the physical world. The paper goes on to suggest that the activity of Drawing is comparable as a process of transformation: a picture is a transformation from either viewer-centred, or object-centred descriptions, or a combination of both types of representation, to a two-dimensional drawn representation. These pictures may be described as resulting from algorithmic transformations since picture-making utilises specific geometric procedures for transforming input (our perceptions) into output (our drawings). However, a key point is made about such algorithms: they are culturally-determined. They may be defined in terms of the procedure of selecting and combining choices from the matrix of semiotic systems available within a particular social context. These systems are presented in the paper as a Chart, and are further correlated with the social functions of a communication system such as Drawing. Thus, the paper proposes a systemic-functional semiotics of Drawing, within which algorithms operate to realise specific cultural values in material form. Familiar algorithms are illustrated, such as those governing the transformation of the physics of an array of light at the eye into the set of representations known as perspective projection systems; and also illustrated in the paper are less familiar algorithms devised by artists such as Kenneth Martin and Sol LeWitt.
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