The Enigma of Complexity

McCormack, Jon; Cruz, Camilo and Lomas, Andy. 2021. 'The Enigma of Complexity'. In: EvoMUSART 2021. Seville, Spain 7 – 9 April 2021. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

In this paper we examine the concept of complexity as itapplies to generative art and design. Complexity has many different, dis-cipline specific definitions, such as complexity in physical systems (en-tropy), algorithmic measures of information complexity and the field of“complex systems”. We apply a series of different complexity measuresto three different generative art datasets and look at the correlationsbetween complexity and individual aesthetic judgement by the artist (inthe case of two datasets) or the physically measured complexity of 3Dforms. Our results show that the degree of correlation is different for eachset and measure, indicating that there is no overall “better” measure.However, specific measures do perform well on individual datasets, indi-cating that careful choice can increase the value of using such measures.We conclude by discussing the value of direct measures in generative andevolutionary art, reinforcing recent findings from neuroimaging and psy-chology which suggest human aesthetic judgement is informed by manyextrinsic factors beyond the measurable properties of the object beingjudged.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Complexity, aesthetic measure, generative art, generative design, evolutionary art, fitness measure

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



20 January 2021Accepted
9 April 2021Published

Event Location:

Seville, Spain

Date range:

7 – 9 April 2021

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Feb 2021 15:45

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 21:37


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