For my conference project, I am interested in recreating elements of nature using Processing. As we further dissected the definition of Generative Art, I found there to be a close relationship to GenArt and nature itself. Both follow set systems of rules, yet are also full of unpredictability. By using Processing, I’m curious as to how I can utilize its tools of controlled randomness to resemble the various aspects within nature. For instance, my sketchbook consists of loose, random drawings of what came to mind when I thought of nature. I wanted a lot of variety such as curves, noise, harsh lines, detail, looseness, etc.
I was greatly inspired by some of the work I had studied of Holger Lippmann for my artist presentation at the beginning of the semester. Though I chose him at random, I felt a very strong connection to his work and felt it represented a lot of my interests as an artist. His work is full of structured randomness, and that’s something I’d like to use within my conference project. For instance, his works titled NoiseWave IX really caught my attention. While using the same shape over and over, Lippmann was able to create beautiful designs of abstract oceans and beaches. This is where I got the idea of nature from for my conference project. I wanted to create work like Lippmann’s: purely digital that also resembles realistic beauty in the world.
I look back on my Night Waves sketch for Projector Night. It’s as if Night Waves is a baby step towards all I would like to accomplish with this conference. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I hope to expand on the tools used within Night Waves such as noise and variance.
I was inspired by “Wing” by Jack Colton, “Waldorf Sun” by Garret Hsuan, “Membrane” by Moyna Ghosh, “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Nabila Wirakusumah, “Jellybean Solar System” by Meghan Sever, and “Rainbow Cetology 1” by Wade Wallerstein. Their sketches provided me with insight into the relationship between design and realism that I would like to incorporate into my own sketches as well.
When viewing my work, I hope to express both the world of design and the natural world. I want both to be clearly present in my sketches. When people see it, I want them to think, “Wow, that was made with a computer?” I want it to have all the positive aspects of the digital and natural. It’s also important to me that I represent my artistic aesthetic and positively express that to the viewers. I want to share my style, as varied as it is. I have a lot of ideas I’d really like to see through, but in the end I will be picking the 5 best.
I want my sketches to be looped, so at any instance a viewer could jump in and watch without losing the essence of the sketch. For example, I’d love to create a puddle with rain drops falling onto it and creating ripples within the puddle. Using randomness and perhaps mouse-click interactivity, I’d love for rain drops to appear smoothly one after another, or a few at a time. I love the idea of interactivity, but I don’t know if there is room for it in most of my ideas for this conference project. Animation is of course essential. I want the flow of my sketches to be smooth and tame, much like that of nature, for example water dripping off flower petals or the tide on the beach. Variance and noise will be important throughout my work because I feel that helps represent the realism I’m going for. I’ll also be utilizing my own functions throughout my work so as to make the process easier to change at my leisure.
Because I want my sketches to maintain a certain realism, I’m a bit concerned about the amount of detail put into each sketch. I’m still unsure as to “how much is too much”, so along the way I hope to find that balance. In true GenArt style, I always start with an idea in mind but the end result is far from anything I had ever imagined.
The background for my art piece will consist of old, black and white photographs acquired from flea markets and thrift stores around New York state. An image of the artist will be added to the photos inconspicuously.
Using Processing, graphic shapes and lines will be added on top of the images, forming ‘accumulations’ of sorts on top of the subjects. As the accumulations progress, the subjects will be obstructed, changing the narrative of the photograph.
Visually, this work stems from an interest to combine photographic images with drawings and abstracted graphics. Previous explorations into the combining their contrasting visual elements together have focused on creating cohesion between the two types of imagery.
(L: 852 Series “Ladies Market”, R: Empty Series “Fleetwood” both mine)
For this project, I don’t have much of an interest in creating cohesion, instead I want to see the photograph engulfed in the coded visuals.
As it is my last year at Sarah Lawrence College, I naturally find myself wondering about the next chapter in my life. The recent election also has me thinking about my place in this country; how I fit in, and whether or not I want to stay. My family and I have always oriented our lives towards America. Though we have always lived around South East Asia, most of the films, TV shows and culture we consume is American, and my parents’ goal has always been to send me here for higher education.
Through this project, I am physically inserting myself into American family pictures and into the standard of “normality” that Pop Culture asserts the American family life is. I am interested in the different visual effects that can be produced by coding on top of the images, and how these accumulations will grow and alter the photographs. While I think the background in this work will be highly important, I believe that it is the coded imagery that will really change the story of the photograph.
(L: by Barbara Kruger, R: by John Baldessari)
Though I knew I wanted to incorporate photographs into my coding project, I wasn’t sure where else it would go aesthetically, or even what the message would be. At first, I looked to Sonia Sheridan, as she creates generative art that using photographic scans of herself. However, I decided to move away from manipulating the photographs themselves and create generative sketches on top of the photographs instead.
I then looked to John Baldessari, particularly his dot series. I was interested in how the simple graphic shapes obstructing the faces of his subjects changed the narrative and spirit of the images. With their faces covered by dots, Baldessari marks them with anonymity and creates distance between them and the viewer. While the colors are bright, I do feel as though there is an almost sinister, cold feeling to the now-faceless subjects. Because of this effect, I decided to focus my codes on the faces in the photographs. I hope that as the code progresses and the graphics accumulate on their faces, distance will be created between them and the viewer.
I also looked towards Barbara Kruger’s work, particularly regarding style and aesthetic. With simple use of red bars and white text, she writes short, declarative statements across the photographs that make a strong statement to the viewer and forces them to redefine the context of the imagery she uses. I intend on only using black, white and red as well to evoke the same emotional intensity that Kruger’s work has. She also uses photography and imagery that feels iconic and classically American, which ties nicely into my goals for this project.
The code will exist in the foreground of the piece. While the background provides the framework and context, the code is what will fulfill the goals of the piece and of course turn it into generative art. I anticipate that I will keep all, if not most, of the code in red, to stand out from the photograph and create cohesion between the pieces. While I want their form to vary from piece to piece, they will all be made with some noisy incrementation that allows the forms to accumulate and grow with the frame count.
It is important to the piece that the faces of the subjects in the photographs are obstructed by the code, so I would first need to be aware of the placement of the drawings, and the degree to which the noise will spread. To do this I’ll probably have to map coordinate points to orient my drawings to, by measuring the photograph out on Photoshop. Once I have the points from which I want the sketches to begin, I can also set up margins or axes to limit where the code spreads to.
Of course, because this is generative art I don’t want to restrict my code too much. It already will be generative in that I will be creating systems that dictate where these graphic images will show up and how they will look like, and by virtue of the noise function these images will change each time they’re generated. But I also believe that, since these graphics elements are growing, unlike Baldessari’s, the mood or narrative given in the story is also somewhat out of my control. As I decided to insert an image of myself into the piece, I wondered if I should intentionally create a separate .PNG file of myself to layer on top of the code, so that no matter what I wouldn’t be obstructed. But I believe that who and what the code obstructs, though guided at first, could end up changing and the effect may be something worthwhile to see as a generative artist. In short, while I am purposely seeking to change the narrative of these images, I am curious and open to see what the system turns it into.
These are two ideas of what these graphic accumulations will look like, and how I want them to evolve. For the spirals I will definitely be using loops, first to increment the amount of noise in the spiral, then later to draw the lines themselves. I also will keep the alpha on these spirals very low in order to not overwhelm the drawing right away.
For the sketch idea that starts with rectangles, I was inspired by Callum’s piece, “Alive Again”. His seems to have some 3D aspect to it, but I anticipate my sketches will stay within the 2D realm, to keep with my aesthetic goals.
I did experiment with creating more dimension in my conference work earlier, taking advantage of transparent .PNG files and editing a background code as well as a foreground code.
(Sketch using transparent PNG to code in background)
As of right now I’m still considering creating a piece in this way, if it manages to still cohesively work with the Barbara Kruger-aesthetic I’m aiming for.
Something I’ve struggled with this during this class is having my sketches change over time, and not stay stagnant. My earlier pieces definitely didn’t change drastically over a longer period of time, and I took a lot of inspiration for this project from Jack Colton’s pieces, as I always felt like his code did a good job accumulating and changing over time.
Since I was a little kid playing video games on a GameBoy Color, I have been fascinated with the concept of virtual environment. The idea of rendering something that could exist in real life on a computer screen blew my mind. Since then, my studies have brought me into contact with artists like Pipilotti Rist, Petra Cortright, and Lilian Schwartz. Pipilotti Rist creates vivid, completely immersive environments using digitally processed video projection instillations. Her work blurs the line between the organic and the technological. I draw a lot of inspiration from the immersiveness of her works and the aesthetic vibrance. Petra Cortright is a famous net artist from the 00’s. Her command of interconnected web portals, distinct style layering images over each other, and creation of fantastic digital ecosystems (especially HTML ecosystems) have also heavily influenced my work. The idea of the blending of the living and the machine, and the life within the machine, was an idea originally constructed by Lilian Schwartz, whose early computer artworks set a precedent for all future digital art works. Her work revolves around the idea of the life within the code, and the human body’s relationship to the machine. Apotheosis (1972) is perhaps the most sublime work in this exploration. Using computer recorded images from within a radiation chamber, Schwartz animates a human body undergoing cancer treatment. The body cannot live with this barrage by a machine which kills the deadly cancer cells, but it is simultaneously being destroyed (healthy cells are destroyed in the process). In terms of coding style, I have been heavily influenced by Kaili Aloupis, whose out-of-the box coding style helped me to expand my thinking of how I could work with the code. Garrett Hsuan command of the code helped me a lot in terms of logical thinking and technicality—I learned a lot of code logic from studying his work.
Different aspects of my conference project are heavily disordered, whereas other aspects are heavily ordered. Each video in Boolean Oceanography falls into a different category on Gallantner’s Generative Art Systems chart. “Cnidaria Medusozoa” is highly ordered. Each jellyfish in the sketch follows a defined path and increases in size at an exact rate. Randomization comes in in the color. Each time that the sketch repeats, there is no exact same color produced. The interesting part of this sketch, for me, is that despite the fact that the colors are never exactly the same, the sketch looks the same each time that it runs. Despite randomization, there is still uniformity. The level of disorder increases in “Aurelia Aurita 1”. Here, size, shape, and location are given parameters but are not plainly defined. Every other frame, the animation shifts and each time the size, shape, and location of each individual jellyfish location changes. Like “Cnidaria Medusozoa,” each time the sketch runs its different from the time before, however the ultimate effect is the same.
Where the disorder becomes more palpable is in “Rainbow Cetology 1”, in which random colors, locations, and dimensions are generated to create a diverse field of made up of varying versions of my whale sketch. This kind of work relates to the randomization that Gallantner speaks of in artists like Elsworth Kelly and William Burroughs. This kind of work falls into what Gallantner describes as the narrow art historical definition of generative art: “a form of geometrical abstraction in which a basic element is made to ‘generate’ other forms by rotation etc…” This is where my project is limited, and where if I fail I might try again. My project is highly ordered, and controlled. This is validated though, by Gallantner’s assertion that even “an art practice that uses a dynamic complex system to create what is ultimately a static object or recording is still generative art. As is, for that matter, works resulting from the use of simple generative methods,” (Gallantner, 9). Though my work produces somewhat static drawings, they are created using complex systems which produce random and unforeseeable results and thus my work is generative. A further exploration of Boolean Oceanography would include more attempts at giving more autonomy to the system. Right now, the title of the project represents my own technical limitations. Boolean (noun) is a binary variable, having two possible values called “true” and false”. Most of my sketches run based on this principle of “if not this, then this”. This kind of binary logic runs throughout my sketches and is a major theme. Were I to continue on with this project this project, I would attempt to expand this logic to include more parameters whenever possible.
In terms of my code, I relied heavily on the logic of size and direction control. Using the equivalent of “true” and “false” terms, I have been able to animate creatures that go across the screen over and over again. Using the random function, I have been able to randomize color and location in my sketches, as well as add random noise values into my sketches. In “Aurelia Aurita 1”, I have used variance to warp and distort my sketches, and noise to make them move about in a jumpy, twitchy manner. At each step, I have added noise to further distort the images. In “Rainbow Cetology 3” and “Mola Mola” I used dimensionality to create rich, textured backgrounds that vary and are perhaps the most generative aspect of my sketches. These are the places in which I have handed over the most autonomy to the system. In each of these, vector drawing paths have been augmented using noise to create a non-linear path across the screen. Each sketch in Boolean Oceanography contains custom functions which determine the location and direction of my vector drawings. In “Mola Mola” and “Rainbow Cetology 3”, these custom functions set up the basis for the drawing of the elaborate, noisy backgrounds that I have described. For my own personal process, I find the use of axes to limit what I can do with my sketches and instead, for the most part, set x and y coordinates manually. For future progression of this project, I would add interactivity to change the way the viewer engages with the sketches. Right now, each sketch is not very interactive; however, I could see adding mousePressed and keyPressed to have the viewer create the rainbow whale stripes or other vector drawing locations within the sketches.Right now, I expect the viewer to engage with my sketches as escapism—think Ecco the Dolphin meets Cory Arcangel meets the digital equivalent of a chainsaw. I aim for my sketches to be personal, and connect with my viewers. Some of the sketches almost feel like self-portraits. For example, I see a lot of myself in the ocean sunfish that moves across the screen in “Mola Mola”. I have recently been following a series of commissions done by Rhizome called “The Download”. In this series, different artists create a body of work that is then zipped and able to be downloaded by the viewer. In essence, this project turns the desktop space into the gallery space. Similarly, I see my work connecting in viewers’ own intimate spaces in this same way. Alternatively, I can see Boolean Oceanography projected in a single room, each sketch projected on to four walls so that they all overlap each other. The contrast between my technicolored sketches and my black and white sketches, in addition to the contrast between my jumpy, unnatural movement sketches and smooth, flowing, organic movement sketches should make my viewer reconsider what is natural and bring attention back to the medium. Ultimately, I want to turn either my viewer’s desktop space, or a small room that they are in, into a digital ocean.
Personally, I really appreciate Vera Molnár’s works, especially her “(Des) Ordres” (1976). I love the combination of well ordered shapes and some little peaceful variations in her works. Well-ordered works make me feel comfortable and relax, and few well-organized alterations turn the works more vivid and rich. Like Matt Pearson descried his raggedy line in his book “Generative Art: A Practical Guide Using Processing”: the line is less controlled, yet not so chaotic as to be useless*. I want my works look like this.
In the “Flowers”, both the flowers and the backgrounds parts will be animated. The “flowers” part will mainly use random, continue and break to make, a little bit noise may be used as well. This part will present “not-so-randomness”. For the “background” part, different pieces will use different active mode, including noise, variance and dimension. The reference of most color themes in “Flower” will be Adobe Color CC**.
I believe that the “Flower” will look great. I have 3 complete works so far, and they are “Growing”, “Origin” and “Windy”. Using “Origin” as an example, the green patterns in the background are presenting the roots of plants. Root is the original part of a plant, so I named it as “Origin”.
I will keep working on the other two works of “Flower.”* Page 56, Pearson, Matt. Generative Art: A Practical Guide Using Processing. Shelter Island, NY: Manning, 2011. ** https://color.adobe.com/explore/most-popular/?time=all