[spectre] [Tesla@CS UCL] Paul Brown::Stepping Stones in the Mist:: April the 17th, 18:00 -- Malet Place, Eng 1.02

Gordana Novakovic gordana.novakovic at btopenworld.com
Tue Apr 3 13:32:19 CEST 2007

Dear Spectres who might be in London at the time,

I am very pleased to announce that Professor Paul Brown, artist, one of the 
most prominent pioneers of British computer art, is back in the UK, and will 
present his work at Tesla under the title Stepping Stones in the Mist on 
April the 17th, 18:00 -- Malet Place, Eng 1.02. All are welcome to attend - 
I very much hope that you will not miss this unique opportunity to get 
insight into his ground-breaking body of work, and his current ongoing 

Paul is currently Visiting Professor at the Centre for Computational 
Neuroscience and Robotics, University of Sussex (paul at paul-brown.com, 

Simple map:


This presentation is an ongoing, idiosyncratic and non-rigorous account of 
my work as an artist who has been involved in the field now known as 
Artificial Life for over 30 years. I begin with a few opinions that define 
my position within the visual arts (which is far from the current 
mainstream) and then go on to describe early influences from the 1960's and 
70's that have framed my involvement in the field of 
computational/generative arts. This includes some examples of my work from 
this period. The latter part of the presentation describes my working 
methodology and includes examples of my more recent work and ends with a 
some speculations about where I may go in the future.

The title is a metaphor for my self view as an artist and individual. A long 
time ago I stepped off the bank of a misty river or lake and onto a line of 
stepping stones. Now, many years later, the stepping stones are shrouded in 
the mist. Those behind me are dimmed by the mists of memory and those in 
front are hidden by the mists of uncertainty. The one in front of me is 
quite clear (as is the one behind) but then they quickly fade as they 
progress. I have no idea what lies on the further bank, or indeed if such a 
shore even exists! Memories of the bank I left are now long eroded.

I only really know where I am at this moment or, perhaps, where I have just 

During my 35-year career as an artist my principal concern has been the 
systematic exploration of surface. Since 1974 my main tool has been the 
computational and generative process. I have established a significant 
international reputation in this field of work and was recently described by 
Mitchell Whitelaw as. one of the ... pioneers of a-life art (Metacreation - 
Art and Artificial Life, MIT Press, 2004, pp.146, 148-152).

My work is based in a field of computational science called Cellular 
Automata or CA's. These are simple systems that can propagate themselves 
over time. CA's are part of the origins of the discipline known as 
Artificial Life or A-life. I have been interested in CA's and their 
relationship to tiling and symmetry systems since the 1960's. Over the past 
30 years I have applied these processes to time-based artworks, prints on 
paper and large-scale public artworks.

In my artwork I attempt to create venues which encourage the participant to 
engage both visually and physically with the work. Because my work emerges 
(in the computational sense) from game-like processes I include elements of 
play in order to capture and sustain the participant's attention.

Rather than being constructed or designed, these works " evolve". I look 
forward to a future where computational processes like the ones that I build 
will themselves make artworks without the need for human intervention. The 
creation of such processes is something that has always fascinated me.

Hope to see you then

Best wishes,

Tesla founder and convener

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