Category Archives: art

The Demon’s Paintbrush

Sweet Lord, my Genetic Algorithms course has ended. The giant pile of work is now behind me. I have to say that despite the large amount of work, the course has been one of the most rewarding in recent memory. There are a lot of exciting ideas in this field. The course instructor is David E. Goldberg, who is an influential luminary in the field.

For the course project, I decided to return to my decades-old interest in graphics programming by developing a genetic artwork program. The basic idea was to “breed” new images by figuring out which images in a random population are better than others. I needed a way to rank which images were better than others. Inspired by Flickr’s concept of interestingness, I decided to use color comparisons to popular images from as a way to rank images. An image that has a close match in color to a popular or interesting Flickr image is given a high rank. The genetic algorithm runs over successive generations to produce images with higher ranking. Eventually I got a lot of good results, and then a scary demon appeared:

Picture 69.jpg

The picture on the left is the Flickr image that the generated images resembled most. Lower numbers mean higher rankings. Look at 392. The demon got 4th place! Maybe that’s why he looks angry.

Here are some other interesting results I got with the demon’s paintbrush. Click to get to a more detailed writeup, including the many thousands of generated results:

UPDATE: Click here to see some giant tiled montages of artwork generated by the technique.

Beauty of math and music

I love this math/music toy that Jeremy told me about: The “Whitney music box”.

“A flash animation showing the relationship between chromatics, harmonics, and even primes and non-primes.”

“A musical realization of the motion graphics of John Whitney as described in his book “digital harmony”

Picture 12.jpg

Be sure you try the other variations. And especially try Variation 17, which lets you crank the spiral yourself. Hmm… “Crank the spiral?” Sounds like some kind of surfing euphemism.

Jabba the Sand


This was our attempt to leave a mark on our Outer Banks vacation last week. Jabba the Sand watched over the children for a few hours before it succumbed to the perils of wind and water.

The beach house was very nice – it even had a 12-seat Mini-Theater! And a golf cart!


Alas we are now stricken with beach grief after coming home. So much so that we are looking with Chris and Angel at even more beach houses in the Banks for a possible September trip.

They are beautiful because they are mathy.

Bathsheba Grossman makes fantastic sculptures by printing in 3D with metal.

s1 s2 s3
s4 s5 s6

I wish I had the spare cash to spring for one of these. Though, the “Mini” models are somewhat affordable (less than $100).

I found about about the artist from Make Magazine‘s video podcast.

Cutest invertebrate I’ve seen this morning.


(via Cthulhu InThePants; see more from the artist)