The importance of authorship in art has been discussed for decades, putting in question the act of appropriation. Although this word usually comes with negative connotations, it can be a concept of great innovation in the art world; like when Robert Rauschenberg erased a De Kooning drawing in 1953, or when Andy Warhol reproduced popular culture in his screenprints.


When it comes to generative design, an “appropriation,” of sorts, can be done through algorithms that explore and calculate all possible solutions to a problem; extending what can be done by the human brain, and mimicking nature’s evolutionary approach to design. By doing that, graphic designers have changed our perception of design as made by a single author, and Echo Yang has taken this concept to another level. By placing obsolete machines like hand-powered alarm clocks, mechanical toys and basic home appliances at center stage, Yang exposes their internal algorithms and from that, produces beautiful artwork.


Yang says, “my experiments in this domain of obsolete machines reveal their internal algorithms. Instead of creating these algorithms, I simply adopt and then visualize them.”


Whether you agree with her practice or not, you have to admit it’s pretty amazing to watch.




Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of


Watch more of Yang’s autonomous machines here.