Generative Art

The term generative art has become associated with production of digital artwork using mathematics and associated software. It usually involves the use of mathematic equations, either directly or indirectly through a graphic interface. There are many "buzz" words associated with generative art: fractals, harmonograph, spirograph, Lissajous figures, phyllotaxis, attractors, Lorenz System, L-system, and so the list goes on. Many of this terms refer to related mathematical models. It is not my intent to provide a definitive run-down on these areas - goole will deliver more than enough material to satisfy you curiosity. Rather, I just want to expose the beauty of some of the maths behind them, and hope to inspire you to undertake your own experimentation. Much of the software that you need is either free, or low-cost for hobbyist use. See the list of software below for some places to start. Software is available for most platforms, form the humble (but not to be overlooked) Raspberry pie to Windows. Linux and Apple systems.

Not all generative art requires computers and software; take a look at Harmonographs. These were invented in the 19th century and produce spectacularly beautiful patterns.I will include some computer-generated versions later on. 

For further inspiration, take a look the the many Instagram and Facebook pages dedicated to generative art. I have also listed some books that will give you a good start in your experimentation. One final source of inspiration can be found in the geometric designs common in the Middle East and Arabic world.

Harmonograph Patterns




Procedural Code



Useful Books

Generative Art a practical guide using Processing, Matt Pearson, pub. Manning, 2011

The Nature of Code, Daniel Shiffman, pub The Nature of Code, 2012

Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music, Anthony Ashton, pub Wooden Books, 2005

The Beauty of Numbers in Nature: Mathematical patterns and principles from the natural world, Ian Stewart, pub Ivy Press, 2017

Some Software to Try

Here is a list of the software that I use. It is not a complete list of available software as I am Mac-based, and does not include Windows-only applications

Chaotica Fractal art application using IFS (Iterative Function System).
Processing 3 Procedural graphical coding based on Java  
Filter Forge    






Facebook Groups


Terms to search for on the Internet