Camera Obscurer: generative art for design inspiration

Dilpreet Singh, Nina Rajcic, Simon Colton, Jon McCormack

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate using generated decorative art as a source of inspiration for design tasks. Using a visual similarity search for image retrieval, the Camera Obscurer app enables rapid searching of tens of thousands of generated abstract images of various types. The seed for a visual similarity search is a given image, and the retrieved generated images share some visual similarity with the seed. Implemented in a hand-held device, the app empowers users to use photos of their surroundings to search through the archive of generated images and other image archives. Being abstract in nature, the retrieved images supplement the seed image rather than replace it, providing different visual stimuli including shapes, colours, textures and juxtapositions, in addition to affording their own interpretations. This approach can therefore be used to provide inspiration for a design task, with the abstract images suggesting new ideas that might give direction to a graphic design project. We describe a crowdsourcing experiment with the app to estimate user confidence in retrieved images, and we describe a pilot study where Camera Obscurer provided inspiration for a design task. These experiments have enabled us to describe future improvements, and to begin to understand sources of visual inspiration for design tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Intelligence in Music, Sound, Art and Design
Subtitle of host publication8th International Conference, EvoMUSART 2019 Held as Part of EvoStar 2019 Leipzig, Germany, April 24–26, 2019 Proceedings
EditorsAnikó Ekárt, Antonios Liapis, María Luz Castro Pena
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030166670
ISBN (Print)9783030166663
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInternational Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design 2019 - Leipzig, Germany
Duration: 24 Apr 201926 Apr 2019
Conference number: 8th (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceInternational Conference on Evolutionary and Biologically Inspired Music, Sound, Art and Design 2019
Abbreviated titleEvoMUSART 2019
Internet address

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