generation/mutation: from crowdsourced to ai-sourced new media art


Holger ‘H-Ray’ Heine

Spanning more than two decades, the new media art project generation/mutation evolved from human made, crowd-sourced art to machine made, ai-generated art. When the project was launched in 1998, artists were simply asked to

Death Valley Junction. 1982 photograph by H-Ray Heine, bw, Nikon F2, 35mm. Seed image for generation/mutation
  • download the project’s seed image
  • alter the image any way they like
  • email the result back to be shown in an online exhibition.

Participation in the project was open to everyone and every contribution—provided it met a few simple technical requirements—was guaranteed a place in the planned online exhibition. No jury, no curator, no censorship.

The aim was to trigger a free and open-ended collaboration that would generate a series of contributions by artists from around the world, using the just emerging Internet as the only means of communication and exchange.

The resulting online exhibition was seen by more than 2,5 million visitors during its first three years online!

And that was just the first, crowd-sourced version of the project. Heine offers a fascinating account both of the technological evolution of the Internet and their creative uses in new media art. Combining art and philosophy in a novel form of expression and discourse, generation/mutation is required reading for anyone interested in new media art!


generation/mutation: from crowdsourced to ai-sourced new media art

by Holger ‘H-Ray’ Heine

Launched in the early days of the Internet, before Google or Facebook or iPhones, generation/mutation explores the new possibilities of collaborative art production and distribution afforded by the evolution of digital technologies

Based on the idea of crowdsourcing creative work online, years before the expression “crowdsourcing” was coined, generation/mutation received contributions from an international group of new media artists. During its first two years, the project’s online exhibition attracted more than 2.5 million visitors and has remained one of the most iconic collaborative new media artworks online.

Over time, generation/mutation evolved from an online exhibition showing crowd-sourced contributions created by human artists to the inclusion of machine-made contributions found on Google Street View, to completely ai-generated contributions, generated by neural style transfer (NST) algorithms.

As a creative exploration, generation/mutation is a deeply philosophical work. Not in the traditional form of a book or academic journal paper, but in the form of a collaborative and creative meditation on the nature of artistic practices at the onset of the twenty-first century, an articulation of new methods of artistic collaboration in an age of global digital networks.


Product Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Topos Media Books (December 22, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 160 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 6976230750
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1943354030

Also available as Kindle Ebook

Additional information

Dimensions9 × 6 × 1 in


There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.