June 27, 2006

will wright & brian eno

Will Wright & Brian Eno gave a most excellent talk last night in San Francisco, as part of the Long Now SALT seminar series. Stewart Brand's summary captures the highlights nicely

Wright observed that science is all about compressing reality to minimal rule sets, but generative creation goes the opposite direction. You look for a combination of the fewest rules that can generate a whole complex world which will always surprise you, yet within a framework that stays recognizable. "It's not engineering and design," he said, "so much as it is gardening. You plant seeds. Richard Dawkins says that a willow seed has only about 800K of data in it."

Eno noted that ambient music, unlike "narrative" music with a beginning, middle, and end, presents a steady state. "It's more like watching a river." Wright said he often uses Eno's music to work to because it gets him in a productive trancelike state. Eno remarked that it's important to keep reducing what the music attempts, and one way he does that is compose everything at double the speed it will be released. Slowing it down reduces its busyness. Wright: "How about an album of the fast versions?" Eno: "'Amphetamine Ambient.'"

Wright demonstrated his work in progress, the "massively single-player" tour de force Spore. Lots of good info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spore_(game), including this luscious screenshot of the creature editor:


Fig 1: Spore [many amazing videos at googlevideo]

Eno noted that his soon to be released software project "77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno" will pose an interesting challenge to copyright regimes, as it consists of art that is generated algorithmically from seeds of his own works.


Fig 2: A few of Eno's 77 Million Paintings

Posted by Gene at June 27, 2006 4:21 PM