48″ x 84″                        2005

Boids and Swarming Theory, Genetic Programming,

and Complex Adaptive System

Kirby’s inspiration for this painting came from three sources. First is Rudolf Arnheim’s The Power of the Center, which is a study of how composition and vision relate in the visual arts. He presented fascinating examples of the interplay of hubs, centric, and eccentric energy in a painting. The resulting painting plays upon this idea. Second is the use of swarming technology, where 993 tadpoles are caught up in vectors of energy. Third is genetic programming, a subset of artificial life, to create the background pattern and textual brushwork.


This is a perfect example of the fusion of art and science into a holistic world in which the rich theories of art are reinvigorated by the play of programming and spontaneity.


To achieve the uneven distribution within the overall swarming movement, thirty-eight hidden spheres of varying radii were dropped into the swarm space. Each sphere represented areas of repulsion, i.e. areas the tadpoles had to swim around while on their swarming journey. Thus, you can see the different radial gaps in the overall pattern.


The background uses a larger brush with a softer, wet-on-wet, color-blending technique. The actual tadpole brushstroke was fairly complex. Each stroke is unique, as are all brushstrokes Dulcinea makes. The robot wrist performs a series of complex movements to capture the tadpole gesture in a single stroke. Each tadpole represents an important note of directional, visual energy.



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