Phil Smith

Artist Statement

I’m Phil Smith. I create generative and evolutionary art via custom-coded software.

My recent work uses hand-coded algorithms to combine shapes, ribbons, and gradients of color into abstract works based on randomized genetic variables. I use an evolutionary model to “breed” many generations of offspring from a given random image, until I’ve curated a final group of images to share publicly.


I have been creating natively digital artwork since the days of electronic bulletin board systems in the early 90s. At that time, my born-digital work was also consumed digitally, via early networks using terminal display protocols such as text-based ASCII and ANSI, or the early vector art protocol of RIPScrip. These early digital formats invited human creativity primarily because of their inherent limitations.

As digital technology has developed, many artists have chased the latest and greatest to stay at the bleeding edge of what’s possible with digital expression. I like to think of my current generative work (and that of my peers) as an attempt to flip that narrative. I’m not interested in pushing the boundaries of what technology allows. Rather, I’m forming my own visual aesthetic by imposing my own rules and limitations on technologies that are otherwise lauded for their limitless capabilities. Machines are now working within our human-defined limitations, rather than us working within machine-defined limitations.

Just as in nature, we can generate both beauty and complexity through the germ of a few simple rules and actions repeated over time. When the output of those rules and actions are introduced to an environment, whether physical or cultural, some of those genetic / memetic rules will survive and reproduce, while others will not. I consider the Crypto art market an ideal environment to test and document these ideas in practice. I can design visual algorithms based on defined rules and parameters, and the market itself selects from among these for fitness and survival.


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