What is a Generative System?

‘Trust in the system – accept what happens…’
8vo: On the Outside

A generative system is one that has a pre-determined set of rules that give rise to a range of unpredictable results. You determine the rules and the rules determine the design. A simple method could be to take a dice and assign six colour squares to each surface (number). You roll the dice 6 times and a pattern of 6 horizontal colour squares emerge as a result. The design group 8vo designed such a system for a series of posters for the Flux Festival. This is documented on p492 ‘8vo: On the Outside’ published by Lars Muller. The objective was to design a system for modelling types of information prior to receipt of the final copy. The designers felt this method of working was ‘a freedom from the tyranny of aesthetics…where pre-designed typographic ‘rules’ could shape the final outcome’. The notion of generative systems has a wide application and can be found in approaches to art and music.

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