Generative & Conceptual Audio-Visual Art

The research vision of this project is to create a new strand of research that intersects computer science, philosophy, medicine and art with potentially novel applications and impact on conceptual art, art therapy and educational games.

The Computer Science department has strong track record in technologies that can support this type of research: software engineering, graphics, games and artificial intelligence.

Specifically, computer scientists have been employing these technologies in collaboration with painters and musicians on projects in the field of generative art. Results of this work include a conceptual art work which presently gains international recognition and a paper on this work entitled "An evolving Musical Painting on The Boundary between Permanence and Change" that will be presented in the GA2013 - the XVI Generative Art Conference (Milan, December 2013). Beyond the conference, the art work will also be exhibited in La Triennale di Milano the main contemporary design museum in Italy, while there are discussion to exhibit a variant of this work in the museum of Santa Clara in Bogota Colombia.

Informal feedback by clinicians and patients who have experienced this art work suggests that it can have therapeutic effect, e.g. on people with long term conditions like autism, tinnitus or dementia. We are currently interested in collaborations to develop clinical studies to test this hypothesis.

We are also planning a portfolio of conceptual art starting from a series of musical painting sculptures that include a musical art sphere and a painted Möbius strip. These can be virtualised and enhanced with technologies to create interesting art works which, beyond their artistic merit, can also provide case studies for art therapy. Much of this work, we hope, can also evolve in forms of educational games.

An evolving Musical Painting on The Boundary between Permanence and Change @ XVI International Generative Art Conference.

Abstract (pdf)

Paper (pdf)

Poster (pdf)

Experience the art

Below are two examples of the art work. You can click on the images to experience the project for yourself. They require a Microsoft Silverlight plugin and you will be prompted to install it if you haven't already.

"East" (Musical painting #1): Visual artwork by Roberto Bono, "Dhakartu Siqilliyata" - Music by Bob Salmieri

"West" (Musical painting #2): Visual artwork by Roberto Bono, "Porta Ossuna" - Music by Andrea Alberti

Project Team:

Yiannis Papadopoulos*, David Parker, Martin Walker, Emma-Jane Alexander, Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, United Kingdom, Aziz Asghar, Hull York Medical School

Visual artist:

Roberto Bono


Andrea Alberti, and Bob Salmieri


We are currently working with Dr Alejandro Lopez Rincon (Research Fellow at CNRS-UPMC LIP6 & Reseach Scientist at the Rilken Brain Science Institute in Japan - on several generative and digital art projects.

In the following, heart sensors drive the generation of visual digital art. The heart-beat has been always associated to the human feelings. In this project, Alejandro wanted to visualize emotions through heart signals captured by an ECG sensor connected to the body using a bipolar lead. The hardware is a modified design of a sensor by Pallas Areny. The heart signal is converted to Fourier coefficients which then drive the generation of art which evolves together with the signal. The colors, the length of the cycles and length of the drawn lines depend on the Fourier analysis. To improve control and diversity the spectral density of the sound measured by the microphone is added as a second layer in the graphics. The aesthetics are founded on visual representation of the simulating human heart tissue in 2D using the bidomain equation ( The system creates evolving images such as those below:

In a demonstration scenario, Alejandro would typically connect the device while playing the guitar or ask a member of the public to grab his hand. Images will change gradually or more dramatically reflecting relevant changes in the heart signal. In the following video, the art is driven by the heart of a singer:

In a variant of this system below, the graphics are driven by the Kinect sensor where cameras are used to register and analyze a moving object. The Kinect measures angles and changes in movements, creating a model from which coefficients can be calculated and used for effecting an evolving visual art. In the image and videos below, the movements of a dancer become the elements that drive the creation of the visual art

In the following, genetic algorithms applied to images change them to swarms of particles. Applying this concept to a video can be interactive with users being able to displace the particles at any moment creating a fun and artistic effect.