Stephen Boyd

Artist Hand-On Workshop: From Generative Art to Generative AI: A Historical Through-line from the 1950s to OpenAI by Stephen Boyd

A Talk by Stephen Boyd

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About this Talk

In the 1950s a new genre of art termed “Generative Art” was evolving out of early experiments with computer graphics and computer music. Generative Art became characterized by the use of algorithms written in code and the use of automated processes instead of traditional techniques. It has evolved into an artistic movement that challenges traditional ideas about art and authorship, exploring the relationship between human creativity and machine-generated processes.

This presentation will seek to find a common thread connecting Generative Art from the centuries old traditions of Islamic tiling, to the computer pioneers of the 1950s and finally looking at how blockchain technology and Generative AI are creating new possibilities, platforms and markets for creative expression.

The key concepts explored in this presentation will be around questions of artistic ownership, collaboration and value. Is the idea of an art work of greater value than the execution of the work? How does the nature of collaboration change when working with people versus a generative AI? What is the value of a generative work of art in the context of artificial scarcity and virtually infinite variation?

Part 1: The Roots of Generative Art

  • Early Beginnings in the 1950s
  • Exploration of the emergence of Generative Art in the context of computer graphics and music.
  • Discussion on the transition from traditional artistic techniques to algorithmic and automated processes.

Part 2: Evolution and Impact

  • From Algorithms to Artistic Movement
  • How Generative Art challenged traditional concepts of art and authorship.
  • Exploration of the relationship between human creativity and machine-generated processes.

Part 3: Connecting Historical Threads

  • Generative Art Through the Ages
  • Tracing the lineage from Islamic tiling traditions to modern computer pioneers.
  • Assessing the impact of Generative Art across different eras and cultural contexts.

Part 4: Generative AI and Blockchain Technology

  • New Horizons in Creative Expression
  • Examining the influence of blockchain technology and Generative AI on art.
  • Discussing the emerging platforms and markets driven by these technologies.

Part 5: Core Questions and Concepts

  • Artistic Ownership, Collaboration, and Value
  • Delving into the nuances of artistic ownership in the context of Generative Art.
  • Comparing collaboration dynamics between human and AI partners.
  • Evaluating the value of generative art in a landscape of artificial scarcity and infinite variation.


  • Future Implications and Reflections
  • Reflecting on the future trajectory of Generative Art and AI in the art world.
  • Encouraging audience engagement with philosophical and practical aspects of generative creativity.

This talk aims to provide a comprehensive historical and philosophical exploration of Generative Art, connecting its early roots to the present-day innovations in Generative AI and blockchain technology. Stephen Boyd's extensive experience and perspective offer valuable insights into the evolving relationship between art, technology, and society.

25 November 2023, 08:00 PM

08:00 PM - 08:03 PM

About The Speakers

Stephen Boyd

Stephen Boyd

Stephen Boyd is a Toronto based artist using generative code as his medium for creating prints and interactive works since 2003. He has presented at the Marshall McLuhan Festival, Siggraph, taught at the University of Toronto and held an Artist-in-Residence position at Centennial College.


Vandana Taxali

Vandana Taxali

Founder, Artcryption

Carlita Cash

Carlita Cash

Founder, Afri+Tech

Carlita Cash is a digital entrepreneur in network marketing and digital-currency.

Kelly McCray

Kelly McCray

Art Consultant, Art Barrage

MFA, York University




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Canada Council for the Arts

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Fineline is an artist collective, marketplace and more.

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Art Identification Standard

Art Identification Standard is a non-profit developing a universal standard or unique identifier for artworks leveraging blockchain technology.

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