Studies in Perception: 4^15

“I am primarily interested in the “evolution” of surface and the relationship between the resulting artwork and human cognitive processes.

I look forward to a future where computational processes like the ones that I build will themselves make artworks without the need for human intervention. The creation of such processes is something that has always fascinated me” – Paul Brown.

Paul Brown’s 4^15: Studies in Perception (2006-2009) is a generative computational artwork, meaning that rather than being constructed or designed, the artist describes the work as ‘evolving’ – without repetition and without need for human intervention. While appearing to the viewer initially as a static pattern, the geometric forms and colours of 4^15 morph very slowly, so that changes are often imperceptible at first glance. This subtle optical effect rewards the viewer with the realisation that what they initially regarded to be a single luminescent image is in fact a self-generating animation.

4^15 was the first artwork to be shown as part of the MAAP Republic shop-front series at South Bank. For the project, MAAP constructed a 9m x 1.5m projection space on the front window of a shop in the ABI Group Building South Bank, so that a rear-projection housed in the shop could face the popular Stanley Street Plaza in the Parklands. MAAP adapted Brown’s original artwork to the space by lining up four projections side-by-side to create a wide-screen effect that enveloped the length of the shop.

Developed over a successful 40-year career, Brown’s practice evidences a deep knowledge of each art, science and technology, and a sustained curiosity in how the fields interact. Brown is renowned for his use of Cellular Automata systems, which are historically intertwined with the origins of Artificial Life (or ‘A-life’). He has applied such systems to time-based artworks, prints on paper and large-scale public artworks, referencing a mathematical aesthetic revealed in both tiling and patterns of symmetry. Brown describes works such as 4^15 as ‘kinetic painting’, with influences in European kinetic, conceptual and systems art.

4^15 was on display at South Bank from 5pm to 1pm every evening between January and May 2010.

About the artist

Since 1974, Paul Brown has been using computational science and generative processes to make art. He is recognized as a leading figure, and one of the pioneers of ‘A-life Art’. His early work involved creating large-scale lighting works for musicians and performance groups (Meredith Monk, Music Electronica Viva, Pink Floyd, etc…) and he has an international exhibition record that includes the creation of both permanent and temporary public artworks dating from the late 1960s. He has participated in shows at major venues like the TATE, Victoria & Albert and ICA in the UK; the Adelaide Festival; ARCO in Spain, the Substation in Singapore and the Venice Biennale. His work is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia, Asia, Europe, Russia and the USA. Examples of his artwork and publications are available on his website at: