diggin’ in the vaults – genetic algorithms
i dug this out of the youtube vaults a few days back whist researching potential topics of interest for a phd submission. the lecture, part of the colombia art and technology lecture series given by manuel de landa back in 2004, discusses his thoughts on the use of genetic algorithms (GAs), art and architecture in reference to deluzian theory.
evolutionary algorithms or genetic algorithms typically mimic the processes of natural selection and random mutation by “breeding”, selecting and re-breeding possible designs to produce the fittest offspring. evolutionary computation using iterative processes began in the 1950’s using darwinian principles for automated problem solving and developed as three separate streams; evolutionary programming, genetic algorithms and evolution strategies.
the use of GAs and architecture is not new and was discussed in great depth by john and julia frasier in their book an evolutionary architecture published in 1995 which i quote:
“investigated the fundamental form-generating processes in architecture, considering architecture as a form of artificial life, and proposing a genetic representation in a form of dna-like code-script, which can then be subject to developmental and evolutionary processes in response to the user and the environment. the aim of an evolutionary architecture is to achieve in the built environment the symbiotic behaviour and metabolic balance found in the natural environment. to do so, it operates like an organism, in a direct analogy with the underlying design process of nature.”
the video is typical of de landa, talking for an hour and a half with no prompts and no power point presentation, a truly awesome feat. in reference to architecture his discusses (and i quote again):
“the genetic algorithm, if evolved architectural structures are to enjoy the same degree of combinatorial productivity as biological ones they must also begin with an adequate diagram, an “abstract building” corresponding to the “abstract vertebrate”. and it is at this point that design goes beyond mere breeding, with different artists designing different topological diagrams bearing their signature.”
although these themes of “abstract vertebrate” were heavily referenced in foreign office architects seminal book phylogenesis: foa’s ark publication 2004 and more recently in the work of micheal hensel and co, there remains a huge body of potential research into intelligent selection once fit typologies have been generated.
the advent of david rutten’s galapagos evolutionary solver which is introducing non-programmers to experiment with design and engineering logic through evolutionary algorithms is opening up the doors for setting up simple but powerful fitness routines which more than often result in surprising design outcomes.
enjoy the video.