Responses by William Arnold, art director, The Mill.
Background: The purpose of this project was to explore the contributing factors of visually appealing design. We created a generative system based on foundational design principles: grid-based proportions and minimalist color palettes. Within these guidelines, we purposely introduced a series of random parameters. The resulting effect was a combination of order and chaos, generating results that felt familiar, yet surprising.
Reasoning: Our solution was to develop a custom piece of real-time software that generates unique compositions and animation sequences each time it’s played. This solution reveals the countless possibilities that we—as artists and designers—are either blind to or simply don’t have time to explore. It also allows us to break away from instinctual patterns and preconceived notions of desirable compositions.
Challenges: Grounding on the rules and conditionals of the system. We tried to strike a balance between consistent guidelines and true randomness. At times, it was tempting to create additional constraints to ensure greater consistency, but a big part of this project was about letting go and embracing the unexpected results.
Favorite details: The sheer amount of variety our system is capable of generating. Our small team of five people created a modular system that generated roughly eleven minutes of original animation, as well as multiple real-time interactive installations.
Visual influences: Classic graphic design manuals and contemporary generative art. Our goal was to combine modern digital tools with traditional design principles. We had to think about the decisions that graphic designers have historically had to make, and then procedurally automate those decisions.
Specific demands: We created a system for a wide range of deployments— title sequences and show packages for the AICP and NEXT awards— as well as three separate on-site installations. The breadth and variety of these deployments forced our system to be incredibly modular and compatible. This pushed us to develop a more complete system, but also greatly increased the scope and complexity of the workload.