Sunday, 21 March 2010

William Latham

Hopefully in the course of writing this blog I have shown the relevance of abstraction to my own practice. Michael Rush in his book New Media in art shows us that "abstraction is still very much alive in computer art" (2005, p. 209). William Latham's Evolution of Form is a "computer sculpture" that draws its inspiration from complex natural forms like seashells and the work of "Surrealist painters Salvador Dali and Yves Tanguy in his quest for forms that can be manipulated, reshaped (or 'carved', in virtual sculpture within the computer (2005, p. 211).

Rush claims that "Latham was amongst the first to create genetically alive forms that resemble living organisms, though there mutations only occur inside the computer (2005, p. 210)

Clip from The Evolution of Form, by William Latham and Stephen Todd, from 1989; work done at IBM UK Research Labs. Details of sotware can be found in the book: Evolutionary Art and Computers, Academic Press, 1992.

Latham and Todd have now joined Frederic Fol Leymarie (since 2006) at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and created the Mutators Research Group:

Was presented at SIGGRAPH'94 and Imagina'93 (funded by the British Arts Council and Channel 4). The sound track is from Michel Redolfi ( famous for his underwater music.

Biogenesis shows the evolution of artificial life forms in a synthetic universe where 'survival of the fittest' is replaced by 'survival of the most aesthetic'. We see cellular evolution and the replication of mutations forming chain-like structures resembling coral. The artist is like a gardener, breeding, selecting, marrying and steering the course of evolution for creative ends. The film is a record of this evolutionary process. It can be viewed as a psychedelic experience or a more subtle parody of a man's relationship with the natural world through modern technology.

This line of work is being pursued by the MRG group at Goldsmiths College in London, led by Latham, Todd, Fol Leymarie et al. (

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