Chapter 1. Generative Art: In Theory and Practice


On first appraisal, the question “What is generative art?” may seem simple. But, as is the nature of all things generative, even this definition has an emergent complexity.

The elucidation most often cited in recent years is attributed to Philip Galanter, artist and professor at Texas A&M University, from his 2003 paper “What Is Generative Art? Complexity Theory as a Context for Art Theory”:[1] “Generative art refers to any art practice where the artist uses a system, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art.”

1 You can read Prof. Galanter’s paper in full at

1.1. Not your father’s art form

1.2. The history of a new idea

1.3. The digital toolset

1.4. Summary