Some Examples of Pattern, Old and New

Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (book, 1856). “First published in 1856, the lavish folio highlighted stunning patterns, motifs and ornaments in 112 illustrated plates. Each intricate illustration explored design principles behind the architecture, textiles, manuscripts and decorative arts of 19 diverse cultural periods, with a final chapter revelling in the glory of the natural world. The Grammar of Ornament was a monumental publishing project that achieved standards of colour printing never seen before. It is still in print 150 years later, testament to its enduring design appeal.” There are several copies (both old and new) in Hunt. 

Historic New England Wallpaper Archive is a wallpaper collection that contains more than 6,000 individual samples of wallpaper, historic photographs of wallpaper in situ, and ephemera dealing with the wallpaper industry.

Lillian Schwartz (1927-), Pixillation (1970). Lillian F. Schwartz is an artist considered a pioneer of computer-mediated art and one of the first artists notable for basing almost her entire oeuvre on computational media. As a long-term resident artist at Bell Laboratories during the 70s and 80s, Schwartz developed a catalogue of visionary techniques for the use of computational form.

Vera Molnár (1924-), Interruptions (1968), Untitled (1974):

Colette and Charles J. Bangert, Large Landscape: Ochre & Black (1970). Colette and Charles J. Bangert are well-known for their works of algorithmic art, which they produced as a couple. Colette was trained as an artist, while her husband studied mathematics, and later, computer science and programming; beginning in 1967, the two combined their skills to join the ranks of early innovators within the field.

Ruth Leavitt, Diamond Transformations (1974)

Susan Kare’s wallpaper for Microsoft (1989). The colors are all within the 16-color VGA palette.

Jennifer Steinkamp, Daisy Bell (2008), wall projection

Liu Chang, Nature and Algorithm (2016). Every day for three months, Chang randomly picked a screenshot of a geographic location or downloaded a landscape picture. She developed an algorithm by looking at the textures in the pictures, and with coding she generated images on the computer that visually imitate the original images. Two images from different worlds – Nature and Computer have similar visual effects. Juxtaposing them, Liu Chang sees the project both as a respect for the beauty of nature and technology, and as a question to the relationship between nature and AI.

Holger Lippman, NoiseGrid (2018)

Tyler Hobbs, Fragments of Vision (2018)

Manolo Gamboa Naon, Mantel Rojo (2018)

Erik Natzke, Yellow (~2013)

Casey Reas, KNBC (2015)

Works by Okazz_.

By Takawo Shunsuke. 210216a (2021)

Jonathan McCabe, generative art (2005-)

Leah Buechley, Lasercut Curtain, 2017

What Are Some Properties of Patterns?

  • Repetition
  • Motifs
  • Hierarchies of scale (levels of detail)

Symmetry (reflection, rotation); the 17 Wallpaper Groups


“Natural” patterns: foams, branching, cracks, meanders, spots, stripes, foams


“Form Constants”, a feature of perception (noise and feedback in the visual cortex)

See: self-organizing textures