The Babel Singularity
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Articles : Essays

CHARLES 1.0 : The Heuristic Journey of an Art AI Program

4/20/2016 2:00:00 AM 

Charles 1.0 Heuristic Art
An image created by Charles 1.0, after developing its own method of abstract.

Six years ago I wrote a software application to produce abstract digital art. It’s a hobby of mine—abstract art—and I was working in software development, so I tried creating an Artificial Intelligence that could at least make simple sketches. The program was nothing complex. It had no real ability to create beyond the algorithms that were coded into it. I programmed several techniques as tools for generating different shapes and colors. At its base was a common randomizer, which selected the tools and patters that it used.

CHARLES, as I named it, did however possess a somewhat limited heuristic capacity. It was able to learn from the direction I gave it, even to the point of developing its own preferences and building upon its initial tools to compose more complex illustrative patterns.

CHARLES 1.0 generated over 1,600 images. Many of these were merely random starts that required input and additional direction before the program was able to catch onto something workable.

I have put together a quick slideshow that demonstrates the evolution of one of the several types of images that Charles developed. It gives a brief overview of the heuristic process that began with simple random lines and became colorful abstract art.

The caption below each image notes which aspects were added programmatically, and which Charles came up with on its own. [P] Denotes additional programming, [C] means Charles takes credit.


I have also provided just a few examples of some other styles that were produced by Charles.


Now that the years have passed, all that remains of CHARLES 1.0 are some code files on a backup disc somewhere in my garage. The art it created, however, will forever remain.

Among my current projects is an architectural model for a new imaging application. Based on the simple design used in creating Charles, I am also adding the heuristic complexity of Artificial Neural Networks.

If all goes well, perhaps CHARLES 2.0 will soon be in development. ◼

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