The Visual Communication Design programme at Aalto University (VCD) is an international learn- ing community committed to investigating new modes of action within visual communication. This archive was established in 2020 as a means to document and share the activity and work of the programme.

Eevi Rutanen

BA Thesis



Rules of Emergence — Generating and Curating Creativity


This Bachelor’s thesis discusses the relationship between generating and curating in the context of artistic activity. In this context, generating refers to processes and systems used in generative art and generative design. Curating refers to the traditional profession of producing exhibitions, and to the contemporary definition of curating as a universal act of selection and evaluation. The objective of this thesis is to introduce the processes and methods used in generating and curating, and to expose the creative potential emerging from the combination of these practices.


The research analyses and compares contemporary discourses of generating and curating, and presents examples of modern generative and curatorial practices. A joint framework is proposed which illustrates the interconnection of generating and curating. Theories of creativity by Deleuze and Boden & Wiggings are accommodated in the framework to demonstrate the potential of the synthesis for emergent outcomes.


Despite the apparent discreteness of generating and curating, they in fact share many characteristics, both practical and conceptual. They both require the definition of a rule, which determines the curatorial or generative process. In generative design or art, this rule is an algorithm or some other formalisation of an action, in curating the rule is the selection criteria of the collection. Both in generating and curating, the agent creates the process instead of designing directly the product. Generating requires curating in evaluating and selecting the outcomes, as curating depends upon generating in forming the collection according to the selective rules. Deleuze’s concepts of “virtual” and “actual” capture the emergent properties of generating and curating: the rules define the “virtual” cloud of possible outcomes, from which the perceptible products are actualised. Thus, generating and curating both supervene on and contain each other.


Link to the thesis in aaltodocs: