Evolving Assemblages

Evolving Assemblages is a research project in the domain of evolutionary art. This project is a novel approach to the creation of assemblages of three-dimensional (3D) digital objects. It allows the evolution of the distribution of 3D objects, which are placed on a virtual canvas, constructing a non-photorealistic transformation of a source image.
The main goal of research is the creation of an interactive evolutionary art tool for the creation of large-scale assemblages. Being an interactive tool, we are particularly interested in ensuring that the users are able to convey their artistic preferences and ideas through it.


The system has two main components: an Evolutionary module and a Previewing and Rendering module.

Figure 1

Overview of the system

The evolutionary module is an expression-based GP interactive breeding tool. It comprises a Function Visualizer that depicts a grayscale visualization of the individuals’ expression trees. As is usually the case in expression based GP, the grayscale value of a pixel at the (x,y) coordinates (in our case, x,y in [-1,1]) is determined by the output value of the individuals’ expression trees for (x,y).
The 2D previewer runs on the master computer. It evaluates the genotypes and places objects accordingly. However, it doesn’t take into consideration the 3D nature of the objects, lighting effects, shadows, etc. The 3D previewer resorts to a Condor-based render farm. The master creates and submits several Condor jobs for each individual of the population. Each job is responsible for: converting the genotype in a Persistence of Vision (POV) 3D scene file; rendering a slice of the resulting 3D scene using POV-Ray; transferring the rendered image slice to the master, that merges the slices, displaying the images as they become available.
Instead of assigning fitness, the user selects two parents, which generate offsprings through crossover and mutation. We also provide a chromosome replication operator, which allows the user to select a specific chromosome and transfer mutated versions of it to all the individuals of the population.

Awards and Distinction



Presence in exhibitions


  • Living Machines exhibition, London Science Museum, London, UK (August 1, 2013).
  • The garden of virtual delights, BRIDGES 2013 — Mathematical Art Galleries, Enschede, Netherlands, 2013
  • Almedina Estádio, Coimbra, Portugal, Mars, 2009.
  • Art Program of Computational Aesthetics, Lisbon, Portugal, June, 2009.
  • Fonlad – Digital Arts Festival, and I Bienal Madeira, Funchal, Portugal, April, 2008.


In Proceedings

  • P. Machado and F. Graça, “Evolutionary Pointillist Modules: Evolving Assemblages of 3D Objects,” in Applications of Evolutionary Computing, EvoWorkshops 2008: EvoCOMNET, EvoFIN, EvoHOT, EvoIASP, EvoMUSART, EvoNUM, EvoSTOC, and EvoTransLog, Naples, Italy, March 26-28, 2008. Proceedings, 2008, pp. 453-462.

  • F. Graça and P. Machado, “Evolving Assemblages of 3D Objects,” in New Creativity, The 11th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology, New London, USA, 2008.


Fernando da Graça

Penousal Machado




We would like to express our gratitude towards Jennifer dos Santos which posed for the photographs. We also acknowledge the contribution of Paulo Marques provided valuable support in the support of the clusters.