Underlying Aesthetic (Dis)Order

Looking at the image generators in the History Of Computing section of
the Science Museum I was struck by how un-artistic the regular
patterns and well defined forms of harmonic analysers and geometric
pens now look. Their artisticness has gone the way of the string
Concorde’s. That regular, predictable structure would once have been
the underlying aesthetic of an ordered world. Now you need something
messier to look like a competent reflection of the (dis)order of

This changed worldview is what is reflected in generativity’s
obsession with randomness. Randomness is a way of choosing things as
surely as linear progression is, but it is a way that now seems more
naturalistic. Randomness is generativity’s perspective: if you’re
going to do it a different way you’re departing from the norm.

But randomness is a mid-20th-century reflection, one that very soon
may look as mannered as the output of a “Spirograph”. It was a
reaction to a set of social conditions that have not held for some
time. And imposing order on randmoness, finding patterns in the noise,
is a connoseurish and distracting activity to impose on the
viewer. More contemporary choice and noise functions are needed, ones
that give the viewer something more interesting to see and to do.

Posted in Aesthetics