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Jon McCormack

Jon McCormack is a Melbourne-based artist interested in the possibilities of computers and computation, in particular how computers can enhance and augment our creativity.



Since the late 1980s McCormack has worked with computer code as a medium for creative expression. Inspired by the complexity and wonder of a diminishing natural world, his work is concerned with electronic “after natures” – alternate forms of artificial life that may one day replace the biological nature lost through human progress and development.

Selected Artworks:


Colourfield Lux

Colourfield Lux is a new iteration of Colourfield (2009/2010), a generative ecosystem of artificial life agents that form symbiotic and stigmergic relationships based on their perceived colour. Colourfield Lux forms a mediation on technology, the environment, the self, and the connection between them.


The Unknowable

The Unknowable is a mediation on our changing relationship to nature in a globalized, disconnected virtual world we now so effectively navigate through digital media. The work shows five distinct virtual plant forms, each evolved using custom computer software that mimics biological evolution. Each of the five forms is derived from plant species native and significant to the Sydney region.


Fifty Sisters

Fifty Sisters is comprised of fifty 1m images of computer synthesized plant-forms, algorithmically “grown” from computer code using artificial evolution and generative grammars. Each plant-like form is derived from the primitive graphic elements of oil company logos.



A multi-screen, immersive audio visual installation based on insect dynamics.



An interactive, evolutionary ecosystem of artificial life where creatures learn to make interesting sounds.

McCormack’s quotes on computational creativity:

  • “I see myself as being the artist. The computer is still very primitive — it doesn't have the same capabilities as a human creative, but it's capable of doing things that complement our intelligence.”

  • “We're naturally scared of anything where we take away something from people, particularly something as precious as being creative and art, which we associate with being the most fundamental human [trait] — that thing that differentiates us from every other species on the planet.”

  • “If the art was really, really good — if it moved us emotionally in the way the best art does — then I think we would come to start to accept art that's made by machines.”

McCormack’s Background:

Jon McCormack is an Australian-based artist and researcher in computing. He holds an Honors degree in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Monash University, a Graduate Diploma of Art (Film and Television) from Swinburne University and a PhD in Computer Science from Monash University. He is currently a Professor of Computer Science and director of sensiLab at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. His research interests include generative art, design and music, evolutionary systems, computer creativity, visualization, virtual reality, interaction design, physical computing, machine learning, L-systems and developmental models.

His artworks have been widely exhibited at leading galleries, museums and symposia, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), Tate Gallery (Liverpool, UK), ACM SIGGRAPH (USA), Prix Ars Electronica (Austria) and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Australia). He is the recipient of over 16 awards for new media art and computing research including prizes at Ars Electronica (Austria), Images du Futur (Canada), New Voices, New Visions (USA), Alias/Wavefront(USA), The John Lansdown Award for Interactive Media (Europe/UK), Nagoya Biennial (Japan), the 2012 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science and the 2016 Lumen Prize for digital art (still images). The monograph, Impossible Nature: the art of Jon McCormack, was published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in 2005 documenting his creative achievements over the previous 15 years. 

McCormack was an ARC Australian Research Fellow from 2010-2015, and has held visiting research positions at the University of Sussex, Goldsmiths (University of London) and the Ars Electronica Future Lab. The book Computers and Creativity (co-edited with Mark d’Inverno) was published in 2012 and described many new approaches to research in computational creativity.

McCormack’s Awards & Residencies:

McCormack’s Selected Exhibitions:

  • 2017 Consciência Cibernética (Cybernetic Consciousness), Itaú Cultural centre, São Paulo, Brazil

  • 2016 Hybrids, Onassis Cultural Center

  • 2016 Materia Prima: Experiments on digital art & science, LABoral, Barcelona, Spain

  • 2016 Fieldwork: Artist Encounters, University of Sydney

  • 2014 Creative Machine, University of London

McCormack’s Selected Speaking Engagements:

McCormack’s Selected Press:

Learn more about Jon McCormack: