Generative drawing system

autograf is a generative asemic writing system coded as part of research into experimental ecosystems. It generates tags by recombining gestures from a collection of marks used to form letters in graffiti tags. The languages that are generated by this process are both familiar and alien; its tags look like letters but remain indecipherable.


The drawing is constantly and rapidly reinscribing itself as tags consume and erase one another. Those that survive reproduce with one another to create stylistic hybrids. The processes behind this interaction are modeled on an experimental ecosytem made of languageā€”tags have energy, they live and die, replicate, and may steal or give energy to their neighbours. This ecosystem is sonified; the generated soundtrack reflects the ebb and flow of energy in the system.

Asemic writing

Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. This work is part of a longer investigation of the history of writing systems and how they evolved. New graphic languages are evolving based on the processes and understandings of ideographic systems of writing that create meaning in new and contemporary ways, most recently through artificial intelligence.


The world of autograf is a two-dimensional screen onto which tags are written and write over one another, writing left to right or top to bottom. Relationships between the different colours create shifts in the overall composition, everything may go green for a moment before a cluster of blue tags emerges and so on. In some iterations of the work the scale of the tags is linked to their energy in the system resulting in more chaotic patterns, in others tags of the same colour reproduce when they write over one another spawning new tags that adopt the style of their parents.


Language never stops, it is always evolving. The restless movement of this writing system constantly regenerates itself through the recombination of a basic set of marks in endless combinations.


Over the three screens within a dedicated installation the language forms a habitat in which to grow. The tags increase in size and diversity to adapt to this new space forming colonies of orange, green and blue that move about the room. A soundscape suited to the acoustics of the room sonifies these flows.

Produced as part of ARC Discovery Project 'Design after Nature'.