The ‘Algorithms of Art’ gift range is inspired by University of Melbourne mathematical research that unexpectedly created a large and beautiful collection of intricate images.
The result of algorithm testing by Professor Kate Smith-Miles, the images are self-evolving 2D representations of mathematical functions, assembled into three montages transitioning from disorder to order in an artwork titled Negentropy Triptych.
©Kate Smith-Miles and Mario Andrés Muñoz-Acosta, 2019
Negentropy Triptych is an unexpected outcome of a mathematics research project, titled ‘Stress-testing algorithms: generating new test instances to elicit insights’, funded by the Australian Research Council. Professor Kate Smith-Miles’ quest to generate mathematical functions that are challenging and ‘stress-test’ optimisation algorithms has led to a large collection of intricate and beautiful 2D images: contour plots of mathematical functions that have been mathematically generated to create challenging landscapes.
Unable to choose the most beautiful image to print as a poster, she and her co-author, Mario Andrés Muñoz-Acosta, decided to arrange many images into a montage. But what was the most aesthetic arrangement? They noticed the presence of background structure formed as localised connections between the images — meandering ‘blue rivers’ of various lengths — depending on the arrangement.
Surveying friends about their aesthetic preferences — and whether they wanted to see the images rearranged to either enhance or destroy any accidental ‘blue river connectivity’ created by random arrangement — revealed a divergence of taste, and interesting relationships between personality traits and aesthetic preferences for global structure or randomness.
Representing this spectrum of preferences as a triptych of images, from disorder to order, thus depicts the emergence of global structure from randomness, and hence the negative of entropy known as ‘negentropy’.
Kate Smith-Miles is a Melbourne Laureate Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Melbourne. She was awarded a five-year Laureate Fellowship from the Australian Research Council, and has published two books and over 280 papers on diverse topics in applied mathematics.
- Prof Kate Smith-Miles Find an Expert
- The algorithms of art Podcast (19:20)
- The algorithms of art Pursuit article
- When mathematics becomes art - the unexpected beauty of self-evolving mathematical functions Public Lecture (1.02:37)
- Potter Museum of Art, 'Machine Forum 2020' Interdisciplinary Forum (1.18:46)