Thomas Petersen
Since the beginning
Works in Copenhagen V Denmark

At some point in the eighties he switched on his Commodore computer, thereby putting serious strain on his social life for the next many years, not to mention the family’s phone bill. This event triggered a development from pixelpushing to a serious involvement in any type of technological art. At this point he’s trying to mold and promote this field from all possible vantage points. Working from the assumption that these art forms are an integral and necessary part of art history, he is active within writing, curating, teaching and the production of digital artworks. Explore his own works at He is also a founder and co-editor of, a web magazine which grew out of the now defunct net art site He has an MA in Aesthetics and Culture from the University of Aarhus with a thesis on 20th century practices within technological art. He lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Generating Art from a Computer Game. An Interview with Alison Mealey

Generating Art from a Computer Game. An Interview with Alison Mealey

Original article at Artificial:

Many artists use various types of processes, events, social patterns
etc. as controlling or contributing factors in the creation of artworks.
Alison Mealey has chosen to base her art on the computer game Unreal
Tournament. More precisely, she lets a number of virtual players play
the game for approximately 30 minutes at a time and uses the data from
the games to produce complex drawings. These drawings are also based on
photographic portraits. Thomas Petersen asked Alison some questions
about her art and the processes behind it. Check out Unrealart at: <> and Alison
Mealey's blog:
<> .

Q: Tell me a bit about the basic ideas and the artistic motivation
behind the Unrealart project. What is it all about?
A: Well, it began as my final project for my MA in 3D Digital Design at
Huddersfield University. I had previously been exploring using games for
artistic means, looking at the interactions between players and
attempting to take the 'game' aspect away from the gameplay, creating
something that couldn't be considered a game but was fun to play with
But I really wanted to use the game as a way of creating art, more
specifically my art, something that I could have great sway over and
control to a certain degree. I didn't want to be left out of the process
while the game produced randomly generated art. I wanted the game to
work for me.
I have always produced portraiture and have enjoyed some success in the
past as an illustrator. I wanted to combine all of my interests and have
the game create portraits using a very simple form of representation
akin to my illustrative style. My main aim was to create something
beautiful (from something far attached from beauty). Unreal Tournament
was used because I found it the most approachable game to modify, with a
well laid out editor, and plenty of information of how to use it on the

Q: It seems that you have a fair amount of control over the rendering of
the image. What is the artistic point of using autonomous/generative
strategies in your work?
A: I do have a certain amount of control, but I like to think of it more
as persuasion. I'm trying to persuade the bots that these paths are a
good direction in which to walk. It's up to them and the decisions they
make based on the game's stimulus whether they stick to my preplanned
routes or not. The images themselves would be very boring if the bots
didn't deviate at all from the paths, this is the reason I only use
large numbers of godlike bots to create the images. The godlike bots are
more likely to change their path in order to give themselves an
advantage during game play, novice bots barely deviate at all. At the
end of the day it's the game and the activity that's taken place within
it that draws the image, over this I have no real control, only the
power of suggestion.

Q: You use photos as a structuring element. What's the story behind the
photos, and how are they used in the process? A: Photographs of a
subject are an important part of the process. Just as any artist might
use a photograph to base a painting on, I use a photograph of a subject
as a starting point. The photographs are used in two important ways.
Firstly I base the AI pathing in UnrealEd around the features of the
face in the photo, creating an in essence a simple illustration of what
I feel are the most important areas of the face in the photograph that
will need to be defined.
The second important (though not always used) influence the photograph
has is on the colour of the final image. Though a fair amount of
randomness of colour is produced in the final artwork, the colour's base
value is taken from the photograph. Not all the artworks I create rely
on this stage, some of them are specifically tailored toward a certain
colour, some are random and some use a death as a marker for changing

Q: I'd like to learn a bit more about the relations between the data
from the game and the visual output. How are the characteristics of the
lines and circles determined from the game data?
A: Only two types of data are taken from the game. The position of every
player (taken every second), and the acknowledgement of a death. As the
data from the game is coming in 1 second chunks, Processing takes every
seconds chunk and produces a drawing from it, these drawings are built
up over time to produce the final images.
The circles represent the positions of the players. The X and Y
positions taken from the players are drawn as-is, producing a top down
2D view of 'the field of play'/canvas. The Y values from the players
alter the size of the circles, if a bot is mid jump they are therefore
closer to the camera and the circles will be bigger, if they are
crouching the circles will be smaller. The Y values have been greatly
exaggerated in some of the more recent works, to produce (in my opinion)
more beautiful images. The lines simply connect every second's points to
produce separate drawings from every second.
The death data is used in some of the images as a big black circle,
indicating where a death took place. In some of the other works the
death data forces a global colour change.

Q: You mention the visualization of deaths in the final images. In which
other ways are the thematic characteristics of the game are visible in
the final images?
A: In a way no other characteristics of the game are present other than
the death positions. No other 'statistics' of the game are logged.
However in another way the entire game itself is visualised in the final
images. The map played is shown in its entirety, as is the movements of
every player on that map over the total time span the map was played
When watching the game and visuals take place live its possible to
follow a single bot's track in the drawing, and watch the drawing build
up over time and see the image slowly reveal itself.
I suppose it's the maps themselves that are the main game characteristic
present in the final images.

Q: Tell me about how you prefer to exhibit the piece, and if you have
any plans of exhibiting it in the near future.
A: I would prefer to exhibit the piece in two sections. One area where
the finished pictures can be viewed printed out quite large. And one
area where the live version would be running, I would prefer to have
both UT and the drawing as its being created to be projected side by
side. It's important that people understand the correlation between the
two. At the moment there are no definite plans to exhibit the work;
there are a few sketchy ideas, but nothing definite yet. Though I would
love to exhibit this work on a larger scale!

Q: Do you have any links to other game art works that you'd like to
A: Tom Betts and his work ( has
been an influence to my work, specifically QQQ. I saw QQQ quite a while
ago but still think it's a very nice work. Tom has messed with the Quake
code enough to force it to produce very beautiful and quite abstract
graphics. Tom was excellent at providing advice for me during the whole

Spring_Alpha has also influenced me Here a
game is being created from a series of drawings produced by artist Chad
McCail. I have strong views about the game and its merits (that are best
unspoken), despite this however it's hard not to see basic similarities
between this work and my own. I have created a series of drawings from a
game, whereas they have created a game from a series of drawings.

The other work that isn't game related but has been important to me is
Surface Patterns: Walking Tours
.html). I took part in a walking tour with Jen Southern in which I lead
her on a walk around Huddersfield and spoke about my memories and
feelings towards the places we were going (Audio Tour 7). This GPS
related artwork strongly influenced my work, not only because of its use
of positional data but also because of something I said which Jen kindly
documented during our tour, Audio Tour 7 and if you open the PDF you can
see something I said a over a year ago relating to paths, choosing paths
and creating paths. This is one of the most important elements of Unreal
Art, choosing a path then marking that path (along with forced pathing).

Original article at Artificial:

Thomas Petersen
+45 2048 2585


Amongst Mushrooms and Singing Goats. An Interview with Jakub Dvorsky from Amanita Design.

Amongst Mushrooms and Singing Goats. An Interview with Jakub Dvorsky from Amanita Design.

Link to article:

We have previously written about the spellbinding Flash game Samorost which features a little man's journey through one unique scenario after another. Kristine Ploug and Thomas Petersen talked to Jakub Dvorsky of Amanita Design ( who is soon ready with a sequel to Samorost.

If you are in the vicinity of Denmark around November 5-6, 2005, then you'll have a possibility of experiencing Samorost 2 at the MINE festival for digital art in the limestone mines of Thingbaek. More info here:


Generative Art Now. An Interview with Marius Watz

Marius Watz is a Norwegian artist and curator who originally took his point of departure doing graphics for the raves of the early nineties. In his current artistic practice he focuses on computationally generated form, describing his own style as a particular brand of visual hedonism, marked by colourful organic shapes and a 'more is more' attitude. His work has been shown at many international festivals and exhibitions. Marius is currently organizing the conference and exhibition Generator.x in Oslo, Norway. This event deals with the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design.

Thomas Petersen asked Marius a few questions about his understanding of the term 'generative art', about his own artistic practice and of course about Generator.x.

Link to article:


Artistic Interfaces. Between Instrument and Artwork

Originally published at:
Article with images, links etc.:


At three separate venues at Ars Electronica 2005 in Linz, Thomas Petersen found examples of hybrids between artworks and artistic instruments, which explore the relations between sound and vision in physical and virtual space. In this article he offers a few perspectives on what we can learn from these artistic interfaces.

Certain types of digital artifacts place themselves firmly in the border zone between instruments for artistic production and artworks. They are 'artistic interfaces' in both senses of the concept. On one hand, they constitute useful interfaces for users to create independent artistic expressions. On the other hand, these tools are artworks in their own right, which offer critical perspectives on the concept of the instrument itself and the dynamics of the creative process.

In the field of digital culture the difference between instrument building and art-making can often be quite subtle. In some cases there are not necessarily any structural differences between an interactive artwork and an interactive space for users to produce aesthetic experiences because they can share characteristics as interactivity, interchangeability, transformation, user-controlled graphics and sound etc. Of course many digital pieces are a far cry from resembling tools e.g. genres like hypertext fiction, point-and-click game environments etc. The defining characteristic of the artistic interface is a specific type of interactivity where the common denominator is a large number of reconfigurable elements, the total sum of which create a manipulable space into which the user can project ideas and expressions. This space depends totally on direct creative interaction from the user.

Each of the following pieces are frameworks of possibilities and limitations. They do not promise more complex or superior results than conventional or analogue instruments, but constitute specific explorations of the production of aesthetic results within certain boundaries. These pieces are critical approaches to the technologies of creative production and can be considered as complex artistic statements in themselves.

An immensely popular work at the Cyberarts exhibition at Ars Electronica was Amit Pitaru's Sonic Wire Sculptor, which received an Honorary Mention in the Interactive Art category. This piece attracted quite a crowd in a stuffy room at the O.K Centrum fur Gegenwartskunst.

Sonic Wire Sculptor deals with the production of sound by means of three dimensional wire drawings. It explores the correlation between vision and sound as the user literally draws the sound with a pen at a drawing station. The drawings are inserted in a rotating 3d-space as spinning wire sculptures. As this virtual space rotates 360 degrees, the sculpture is interpreted by the computer and transformed into sound according to the initial speeds and positions of the drawings. The vertical axis determines the pitch, notes are indicated by horizontal lines and a metronome can be found at the centre of the stage. The user can save and retrieve the sculptures, stop the rotation and reposition the compositions freely to reconfigure the elements within a new tonal space. The installation of the piece in the exhibition space is based on surround sound so the sound in the physical space reflects the structure of the virtual sculpture.

Compared to many other similar projects the piece distinguishes itself by actually being playable as a performance instrument. It can be used as a precise musical instrument by means of the guidelines to achieve specific notes and precise rhythm. A practical implementation into a joint performance setting is definitely conceivable. The piece is a critical approach to the production and representation of sound at the same time. The wire sculptures are an original counterpart to the conventional note system and a dynamic equivalent to graphic notation systems like the ones used by composers like John Cage, Brian Eno etc.

A similar project is Golan Levin's Scrapple: A physical active score table, which was presented at the Ars Electronica Center across the Nibelungen bridge. As with Pitaru's Sonic Wire Sculptor, Levin's piece Scrapple deals with the transformation of shapes into sounds. In this case the piece is based on the configuration of physical objects on a table, transforming them into a musical score.

Instead of placing samples in a sequencer or notes on paper, Scrapple adds a physical dimension to computer-generated music. The user has to move and adjust objects to indicate rhythm, tones, melody etc. The visual result quickly ends up as an abstract composition of shapes corresponding to sound. It also adds a bodily aspect forcing the users to move swiftly around the table. The strength of the piece is not so much being a precise musical instrument but rather a very enjoyable toy appealing to the playful interaction between several users at a time.

Other projects by Golan Levin touch upon similar aspects. In The Manual Input Sessions, hand gestures, finger movements and other objects are analyzed by custom software generating graphics and sounds. In Yellowtail, virtual worm-like creatures are drawn by the user on a screen and transformed into sound by a scanning mechanism.

Going back over the bridge to the 'Interface Culture' exhibition at Kunstuniveristat Linz (Art University of Linz) The reacTable* was exhibited next to a number of experimental interfaces. This particular piece was developed at the Music Technology Group, Pompeu Favra University, Barcelona.

The instrument consists of a round table and plastic objects marked with various symbols. Based on these symbols a camera tracks the position and direction of the objects when they are placed on the table. When one of the objects is placed, the particular symbol is recognized and the immediate environment is augmented with graphics indicating the functions of the element. Some of the objects produce sound and other objects modify these sounds. Some events can also affect the general visual appearance of the table. The total sum of events creates a dynamic, tangible interface with virtually unlimited possibilities in the creation and visualization of sound. The visual result is a stunning abstract animation generating buzzing, clicking and humming compositions.

The interface allows the composer to handle physical objects to generate digital sound supported by a full range of dynamic visualizations. As opposed to the widespread use of e.g. the laptop as a performance instrument, the strength of reacTable* is its tangibility and involvement of the user's body to manipulate digital sound. reacTable* has a social and telematic dimension as there is the possibility of involving distant participants at a shared table. The piece was used in a collaborative performance between Linz and the ICMC conference in Barcelona Spain. The two tables shared musical components and the composers could affect each other' s components in a shared performance situation.

The range of strategies shows us that the visualization/notation of sound is not an unequivocal project. The correlation between sound and vision is a magnet for pioneering instrument builders, simply because this space can never be definitively charted. Each instrument constitutes an interpretation of the ephemeral nature of sound and a longing to map it. The result is an abundance of complex analyses of aesthetic transformations and some very interesting artistic interfaces.

The sheer amount of different strategies of this kind points to the fact that the artistic instrument is under full - scale development these days. These experimental instruments can be regarded as basic research into alternative ways of creating and visualizing music. Because they take place as an experimental practice between art-making and instrument building they can establish interactive spaces which may not have the potential to survive on a commercial market. Certain aspects of these instruments will most likely find their way into commercial production and some of them will maybe become commonplace performance tools - some will not. Whatever their future destinies may be, they are nonetheless important as singular statements and they demonstrate the importance of experimental spaces to develop and test new approaches to artistic tools.


SV: RHIZOME_RAW: how many people on RAW

Thank you Lauren... And might I add: 6.


-----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
Fra: [] Pa vegne af
Lauren Cornell
Sendt: 7. september 2005 17:26
Til: abe linkoln; jeremy; rhizome
Emne: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: how many people on RAW

3, but actually 282 was the total number of subscribers to RAW at the
end of
August.. But then of course RAW's reach--or rather its readership--is
as it is filtered into RARE, available in an RSS feed and published onto
Rhizome's front page.. Lauren

On 9/7/05 10:21 AM, "abe linkoln" <> wrote:

> 2
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "jeremy" <>
> To: "rhizome" <>
> Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 7:59 AM
> Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: how many people on RAW
>> lets start counting:
>> 1
>> Thomas Petersen wrote:
>>> Hey
>>> I'm just curious. Thought it would be interesting to know how many
>>> people are on this list. Can't find any info on the Rhizome site.
>>> T
>>> --------------------------
>>> Thomas Petersen
>>> +45 2048 2585
>>> <>
>>> <>
> +
> -> post:
> -> questions:
> -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
> -> give:
> +
> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> Membership Agreement available online at

-> post:
-> questions:
-> subscribe/unsubscribe:
-> give:
Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
Membership Agreement available online at