The line has an important and particular relationship with the generative artwork distinct from other elements such as the ‘pixel’, ‘voxel’ or the ‘points’ that make up point clouds. The line has a dual nature as both continuous and discrete which makes it perhaps uniquely placed to straddle the analog and digital worlds. It has a haptic or felt quality as well as an inherent ambiguity that promotes a relatively active interpretive role for the audience.
There is an extensive history of the line in generative systems and artworks, taking both analog and digital forms. That it continues to play an important role, alongside other more photographically inspired ‘perceptual schemas’, may be a testament to its enduring usefulness and unique character.
This paper considers the particular affordances and the ‘visuality’ of the line in relation to generative artworks. This includes asking how we might account for the felt quality of lines and the socially and culturally constructed aspects that shape our relationship with them. It asks whether, in what has been described as a ‘post digital’ or even ‘post post digital’ world, the line may offer a way to re-emphasise a more human scale and a materiality that can push back, gently, against other more dominant perceptual schemas. It also asks what generative art can learn from drawing theory, many of the concerns of which parallel and intersect with those of generative art.