BreederArt: Using Symmetry in Digital Design as an Ecological System

By Jennifer Eiserman and Gerald Hushlak.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Symmetry is a design element that crosses cultures and moves back into the depths of history. We can see it at work in the natural world as an important structural and functional principle. For example, humans are symmetrically structured in order to build redundancy into the organism; if one kidney fails, the second can sustain life. Inquiries into its use in architecture abound (for example, a search in Art Abstracts for “symmetry and architecture” yielded 180 citations from the last ten years). Despite the importance of symmetry as a design element, the evolution of an understanding of its function in design beyond its use in architecture and biological systems has not been as well studied. The proposed paper will examine symmetry as an historical design phenomenon and develop a theoretical framework for its continued importance in contemporary design, despite the opportunities that digital technologies afford the designer to create structural integrity within asymmetrical contexts. Symmetry, within the context of evolutionary computing, forms the backbone of a body of work by co-author and artist Gerald Hushlak, BreederArt (www.ucalgary.ca/gerald_hushlak). We use this body of work as a case study to examine an instantiation of the use of symmetry within a contemporary digital context.

Keywords: Symmetry, Digital Art, Evolutionary Computing

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp.31-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 525.083KB).

Dr. Jennifer Eiserman

Associate Professor, Department of Art, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I am an associate professor in the Department of Art at the University of Calgary. My interest in the relationship between art and technology emerged during graduate study and has evolved as a result of what I perceive to be the necessity for those involved in the training of artists to provide a foundation in contemporary media to their students. Prior to entering academe, I worked in museums across Canada at a time when museum practice was just beginning to embrace the then emerging internet as a form of dissemination. This has led me to examine dissemination practices that are authentic to contemporary digital artforms, including online exhibitions and databases, Facebook, etc.

Prof. Gerald Hushlak

Professor, Department of Art, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I exhibit mural-size paintings in museums, build rapid prototype sculpture defined in a three dimensional modeling package, Cinema 4-D, and plot 36”x 50” Giclee printed drawings derived from our own evolutionary computing software. In collaboration with Drs.Jacob Boyd, professors in Medicine and Computing Science respectively, we have created audience driven interactive computer installations using evolutionary computing. Over my art career I have participated in 40+ one-person exhibitions in public museums and art galleries. In the last five years we have presented installations, or hardcopy deriving from the installations, in more than a dozen exhibitions in different public galleries around the world. SwarmArt, the name we have given to this interactive visualization process, has been screened on Discovery Channel many times and is featured in “Leonardo”.

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