A Portrait Of The Algorithm As A Young Man

Machines may not be able to find you the date of your dreams, but they sure can paint. This art is being made by an algorithm. A “life game” algorithm, to be exact. All decisions about which ink to drop and where to drop it are remotely controlled by the ever-changing calculation that predicts the growth of living systems.

Instructions are zapped from the electronic brain to this contraption, which is loaded up with inks in ten different colors and two different viscosities.

The “painting” arm zooms back and forth, in and out, as directed by the computer, and inks drip out of the nozzles onto a glass surface, where they either spread or are repelled by the liquid on the glass or each other.

This “artist” has made a number of works that are on display at the gallery (and sell for very respectable prices). Unexpectedly, each is quite different from the next.

Nor, the designers of this project, explain that Dyebirth was inspired by living systems like dendrites and bacterial colonies. The inks used in the paintings have different viscosities and properties, which interact and “bloom” over time after being dripped onto the painting. As they “grow,” they resemble the biological systems that planted the idea.

If you’d like to see this quirky algorithmic artist in action, it’s painting away right now in Harajuku, every day until November 1, 2018. 


Ultra Super New Gallery

Hours: 10:00 – 19:00

Admission: Free


This exhibit is part of Tokyo DesignArt week, which is staging various exhibits all over Harajuku, Omotesando and Gaienmae through this weekend. Be sure to check the dates of stuff you plan to see – some have already finished.

When not marveling at machines that paint, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

In the wake of a deadly earthquake, fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning when it’s discovered that their favorite pop star is among the dead. But when Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by…read more

And here’s the one-minute trailer…