Open for Enrollment

Starts in 1 day

You can also start immediately after joining!
Join Now
Go at your own pace
7 Sessions / 8 hours of work per session
Included w/ premium membership ($20/month)
Skill Level
Video Transcripts
English, Spanish; Castilian, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese
Performance Art, Design Architecture, Games, Robotics
Open for Enrollment

Generative Art and Computational Creativity

Starts in 1 day
You can also start immediately after joining!

Would you like to enroll?

Enrollment for this course has closed. But you can enroll in a future offering (please select)

Enrollment has closed

Go at your own pace
7 Sessions / 8 hours of work per session
Included w/ premium membership ($20/month)
Skill Level
Video Transcripts
English, Spanish; Castilian, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese
Performance Art, Design Architecture, Games, Robotics
Course Description

This first course in the two-part program, Generative Art and Computational Creativity, proposes an introduction and overview of the history and practice of generative arts and computational creativity with an emphasis on the formal paradigms and algorithms used for generation. The full program will be taught by Associate Professor from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University and multi-disciplinary researcher, Philippe Pasquier.

On the technical side, we will study core techniques from mathematics, artificial intelligence, and artificial life that are used by artists, designers and musicians across the creative industry. We will start with processes involving chance operations, chaos theory and fractals and move on to see how stochastic processes, and rule-based approaches can be used to explore creative spaces. We will study agents and multi-agent systems and delve into cellular automata, and virtual ecosystems to explore their potential to create novel and valuable artifacts and aesthetic experiences.

The presentation is illustrated by numerous examples from past and current productions across creative practices such as visual art, new media, music, poetry, literature, performing arts, design, architecture, games, robot-art, bio-art and net-art. Students get to practice these algorithms first hand and develop new generative pieces through assignments and projects in MAX. Finally, the course addresses relevant philosophical, and societal debates associated with the automation of creative tasks.

Music for this course was composed with the StyleMachineLite Max for Live engine of Metacreative Inc.
Artistic direction: Philippe Pasquier, Programmation: Arne Eigenfeldt, Sound Production: Philippe

What Students Are Saying:

" I found the course to be very enriching and complete in what it covers and I enjoyed doing the course work. We discovered a wide range of artists in all fields of art and the course is up to date. The coursework is well thought out and the homework not only allow us to apply what we learned but to go further in our personal artistic practice if we wish. "


This course is in adaptive mode and is open for enrollment. Learn more about adaptive courses here.

Session 1: Introduction and Typology of Generative Art (October 29, 2021)
To start off this course, we define generative art and computational creativity and discuss how these relate through the study of prominent examples. We establish a typology of generative systems based on levels of autonomy and agency.
7 lessons
1. Welcome
2. Computational Creativity & Generative Art: Definitions
3. Motivations for Computational Creativity & Generative Art
4. Two Examples of Metacreations (Premium Exclusive)
5. Elements of Creativity
6. A Typology of Creative Systems
7. Session Conclusion
Session 2: History Of Generative Art, Chance Operations, and Chaos Theory (November 5, 2021)
Generative art is nothing new, and this session goes through the history of the field from pre-history to the popularization of computers. We study chance, noise, fractals, chaos theory, and their applications in visual art and music.
7 lessons
1. Session Introduction
2. From The Beginning
3. The Proliferation of Machines
4. Randomness and Noise
5. Chance as a Generator
6. Chaos Theory and Fractals (Premium Exclusive)
7. Session Conclusion
Session 3: Rule-Based Systems, Grammars and Markov Chains (November 12, 2021)
This session introduces and illustrate the generative potential of rule-based and expert systems. We study generative grammars through the Chomsky hierarchy, and introduce L-systems, shape grammars, and Markov chains. We discuss how these have been applied in visual art, music, design, architecture, and electronic literature.
11 lessons
1. Rule-based Systems
2. Generative Grammars
3. The Chomsky Hierarchy (Premium Exclusive)
4. Grammars in Generative Art and Computational Creativity
5. Transition Networks
6. L-systems
7. L-system-based Art, Music, and Architecture (Premium Exclusive)
8. Markov Models
9. Markov Chains in Generative Art and Computational Creativity
10. Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) (Premium Exclusive)
11. Substitution Systems: Conclusion
Session 4: Cognitive Agents And Multiagent Systems (November 19, 2021)
This session introduces the concepts underlying the notion of artificial agents. We study the belief, desire, and intention (BDI) cognitive architecture, and message based agent communication resting on the speech act theory. We discuss musical agents, conversational agents, chat bots and twitter bots and their artistic potential.
15 lessons
1. Introduction to Artificial Agents
2. Bots are Agents
3. Rationale for Artificial Agents
4. The BDI Architecture (Premium Exclusive)
5. Artistic Applications of Cognitive Agents
6. Agent Communication
7. Conversational Agents (Premium Exclusive)
8. Musebots
9. Arne Eigenfeldt: Musebots
10. Musebots: Getting Started (Premium Exclusive)
11. Musebot Ensembles
12. Musebot Files
13. Downloading Musebots
14. Making a Musebot in MaxMSP
15. Session Conclusion
Session 5: Reactive Agents And Multiagent Systems (November 26, 2021)
In this session, we introduce reactive agents and the subsumption architecture. We study boids, and detail how complex behaviors can emerge from a distributed population of simple artificial agents. We look at a myriad of applications from ant painting to swarm music and we discuss artistic approaches to virtual ecosystems.
7 lessons
1. Reactive Agent
2. Robot Art
3. Boids, Flocks, and Swarms (Premium Exclusive)
4. Swarm Art
5. Hybrid Architectures
6. Musical Agents that use Reactive or Hybrid Architectures (Premium Exclusive)
7. Conclusion: Agents and Multiagent Systems
Session 6: A-Life And Cellular Automaton (December 3, 2021)
In this concluding session, we introduce artificial life (A-life). We study cellular automaton, multi-agent ecosystems for music, visual art, non-photorealistic rendering, and gaming. The session also concludes the class by reflecting on the state of the art in the field and its consequences on creative practices.
9 lessons
1. Introduction to Artificial Life
2. Cellular Automata
3. Cellular Automata in Visual Art
4. Cellular Automata in Music (Premium Exclusive)
5. Biological Agents
6. Multiagent Ecosystems
7. Ecosystems in Generative Art
8. Ecosystems in Games (Premium Exclusive)
9. Conclusion to Generative Art and Computational Creativity
Learning Outcomes

Below you will find an overview of the Learning Outcomes you will achieve as you complete this course.

Instructors And Guests
What You Need to Take This Course

• Skill Level: Students should have intermediate knowledge of Max/MSP in order to complete assignments.

• Equipment: PC or Mac computer with installation privileges.

• Software: MAX 7 license

Additional Information

PLEASE NOTE: Taking part in a Kadenze course as a Premium Member does not affirm that you have been enrolled or accepted for enrollment by the institution offering this course. Credit Eligible students should be prepared to provide additional information and consent to Simon Fraser University terms of service at the start of the course.

In order to receive college credit for these program courses, you must successfully complete and pass all 2 courses in this program. If a student signs up for the Generative Art and Computational Creativity program, it is recommended that these courses are taken sequentially.

*Partial credit will not be awarded for completion of only one course.

Peer Assessment Code of Conduct: Part of what makes Kadenze a great place to learn is our community of students. While you are completing your Peer Assessments, we ask that you help us maintain the quality of our community. Please:

  • Be Polite. Show your fellow students courtesy. No one wants to feel attacked - ever. For this reason, insults, condescension, or abuse will not be tolerated.
  • Show Respect. Kadenze is a global community. Our students are from many different cultures and backgrounds. Please be patient, kind, and open-minded when discussing topics such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other potentially controversial subjects.
  • Post Appropriate Content. We believe that expression is a human right and we would never censor our students. With that in mind, please be sensitive of what you post in a Peer Assessment. Only post content where and when it is appropriate to do so.

Please understand that posts which violate this Code of Conduct harm our community and may be deleted or made invisible to other students by course moderators. Students who repeatedly break these rules may be removed from the course and/or may lose access to Kadenze.

Students with Disabilities: Students who have documented disabilities and who want to request accommodations should refer to the student help article via the Kadenze support center. Kadenze is committed to making sure that our site is accessible to everyone. Configure your accessibility settings in your Kadenze Account Settings.