Evolving Darwin's Gaze is an installation of generative abstract paintings that embody a cognitive approach to modeling portraiture.  This year the installation will be exhibited at Cambridge University’s King's College Art Centre, UK and MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

The exhibition theme asks the question - can you bring the ghost (creativity) out of the machine? Artist Steve DiPaola attempts to define the answer by applying Darwinian evolutionary techniques (genetic crossover, mutation and survival) to the architecture of a computer program that generates unique expressions of the gaze of Darwin’s face in John Collier’s 1883 portrait. The ever evolving families of related generative portraits strive to resemble the original, while at the same time are infused with computational interpretations of human creativity.  The artwork speaks to the nature of things human; tries to unravel concepts of creativity; and evolution itself. The challenge for the artist is not in the making of a portrait, it is in creating an intelligent program that can run on a computer to generate evolving portraits.

DiPaola uses Genetic Programming to build his Evolving Darwin’s Gaze computer environment.  Within this creative evolutionary system, a gene set of program code is evolved creating portrait images that blindly strive to evolve towards the original portrait.  The code is designed to act like human creativity and is capable of abandoning a focused goal like resemblance, in favor of wider creative pursuits associated with art making (composition, color theory over resemblance), which paradoxically often allows the focused goal to be better achieved. This flexibility results with the program’s ability to change focus and discover new paths of interpretation. In DiPaola’s work, achieving Darwin’s exact resemblance is not the goal, rather, exploring concepts of a living creative process in an artwork by using Darwin’s gaze (his portrait facade) and his thinking process (the concepts of evolution) as a spark at evolved computer creativity in an attempt to bring the ghost out of the machine. See Concepts section for technical and conceptual underpinnings of the work.

Create (evolve) your own evolving painting »

Images from the MIT show

Images from the Cambridge show

View time/epochs from the show

Evolution Cycle Feb. 04, 2008, exploits an evolutionary plateau, repeating themes and beginning to use "genetic drift" to slowly find a new niche the DiPaola best defines as  being some of the most creative.