Art from Code: (a modern display of the brush)

As I began to work with Processing, the Javascript code animator application, I began to understand a different language. At first, I was able to pick up the basics easily. I understand the fundamentals of code because, like any mechanism, there are rules that must be followed. As I fell deeper into my artistic exploration, I began to see the raw challenges I would face as an artist who creates work through code. I have observed a universal struggle that all practicing artists face, regardless of their plethora of mediums. True expression. Raw, honest expression is something that is rare to come by in its purest form. Whether you are shrinking a living moment into a few measly animated minutes to fit on the screen or if you practice as a traditional painter, raw originality is difficult to express in a single form. I found this to be a consistent challenge throughout my search for the most suitable medium.

Processing is simply a tool, a great one in fact. It affords anyone with basic computer skills the ability to shape, design, and project ideas and feelings. Articulating these feelings is what I struggle with most. Processing allows for constant exploration and manipulation. The ease Processing grants is what allowed me to abstractly layer a character that best captivated the idea I want to exude. The rules of processing at times seem mundane, while I wrestle with my own understanding of what I want to express. Time is something else that consumes a lot of my thought, for better or for worse. Though that thought is for another time. A self-portrait is a subject at hand and this assignment afforded me the ability to express what I saw or hoped to see. 

When carefully crafting a self-portrait, some are able to focus on the curvatures that encompass one’s face. Others just set their sights on their own eyes. In all honesty, I was keener on expressing the attitude in which I hope to portray and embody. I say portray as well as be because I think one’s own perception of self can be foggy at times. I find my mental reflection of self constantly being evaluated to what it should be. At times, we reflect too deeply on ourselves and have to acknowledge the importance of where we are. I say this to stress the importance of my process, one of deep personal reflection. This reflection was portrayed, by using the Processing application, to share a mental note of myself. This self has simple eyes and harsh curvatures but I feel it adequately presents the mindset I have about myself. 

This character is a ponderer and a wistful wonderer. Other times he is an adventurer with no plan in sight except for the looming horizon. The lavender background is simple, yet important in portraying a feeling. This feeling is calm, contemplative, and set along a figurative horizon that spans the entire background. This soft lavender landscape is cool among the tan earth tons that make up my figure. There’s a slim look of perplexity etched along this character. A sure stare that takes down its audience. This may not always be me, but it shapes how I feel. A constant edge of wonder and confusion. 

“A constant edge of wonder and confusion.” This is a philosophy reflected in almost all my work, especially my artwork. A piece of work is rarely finished and typically only expresses a feeling, idea, or moment in time. Though those concepts often evolve. With processing, I appreciate the ease at which I can adjust my work and explore my process. With a simple line of code, I am able to capture a still of my work continue perfecting it. This streamlined artistic process is not cheating or inauthentic but a means of varying the expression process. With Processing, I can explore the randomness of my code, but I can also craft a plan on paper and piece it together carefully. Processing is not just a simple software that generates artwork. The program itself requires a knowledgeable person to take initiative and to create. Processing requires an artist. There will always be questions about the color or the size. There will always be second thoughts regarding the orientation or display of a character. Processing allows you to make mistakes, recreate, manipulate, randomize, and generate whatever thoughts you have. There are limits to this expression but the more familiar you become with this software tool, the easier it becomes to express. If you are able to capture an expression in its truest, raw form then it can be repeated. Repetition is an ancient method of art practice. Repetition takes time. Some disagree with modern forms of artistic expression but it is inevitable. The means of expressing art must evolve, therefore the art itself will with it. It’s as though Processing is this tool that contributes to the evolutionary process but is not the reason for it. It is but a cog in the machine. The same can be argued about one’s self and the reflection one has about themselves, but I digress.

Author: Will Wilson