Art From Code: Response to Vera Molnár

 

The idea of repetition as a stylistic technique has been popular throughout art history in order to convey things with a unified focus in multiple ways. Repetition as a concept is abstract and applicable to a plethora of artistic styles.  Due to this, the use of repetition has no constraints in order to successfully be implemented whether being utilized in a single image or series, the usage more dependent on what the artist is trying to convey rather than the physical layout of the work itself. However, it is safe to say that when repetition is applied to a singular image, as opposed to multiple images, or a series of images, the artists is rarely trying to convey the same idea as the single image alone.  The most universal use of repetition is in an artist’s subject matter. This is not only clear with Molnár’s theme of gradualism and repetition, as ij the works of( Vera Molnar: 9 carrés rouges, 1991

)(Vera Molnar: Pink et Rouge, 1996)but also well before, in the works of Claude Monet “Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies,” and (Le Bassin aux nymphéas, harmonie rose)whom Vera Molnár refers to in “Toward Aesthetic Guidelines for Painting with the Aid of a Computer” (1977).  These artworks are both  landscape painting, which is a common trend in Claude Monet’s work. Another example is Wassily Kandinsky and his Compositions 6-7 which repeated the theme of music and the bodily connection it had. More modern painters and artists, however, use repetition literary in their work. For instance in Pop art, where repetition and small perimatic variations can convey the entire meaning of the piece, like in Andy Warhol’s cans. A final common use that Molnar personally utilized a lot was the implementation of repetition in color, tonality, texture, and shape choice like that in Vera Molnar’s “Dialog Between Emotion and Method,” 1986 that uses overlap and repetition to symbolize abstract concepts. Also, the use of symbolism of the “good construct” figures replaced with abstract shapes which Molnár also did prior to her transition to the computer,

“I began by making pictures of nymphs and trees but soon I replaced figurative subject matter by simple geometrical shapes. Later I began to make non-figurative pictures that were the result of a procedure in which initial simple geometrical elements and their combination were successively altered in specific ways”.

When looking at Molnar’s Work there is noticeable coexistence and even correlation between the use of the abstract concept repetition, and her use of the concept of gradualism.  Prior to studying Molnar’s Work, I was used to gradualism being used primarily in academic settings and depicting slow changes that otherwise couldn’t be tracked. This enables you to be hyper aware of these small shifts that get an image from “a to b,” specially when these changes refer to nature. However, when artistically utilized, gradualism is like opening up an artist’s sketchbook to the viewer.  The gradual changes are made present slowly by the rise in asymmetry that alters with every loop. This type of gradualism and repetition is best shown through Molnar’s Work “My mother’s letters”, in which Molnar computerized the gradual ageing of her mother through the care she put in her calligraphy.

“She began each line regularly and strictly with Gothic letters, which toward the end of the line became more and more restless, nervous, almost hysterical. As she aged, the letters became quite troubled, perturbed. Slowly the Gothic disappeared, leaving only the hysterical.”

 

She did this by first creating changes evenly at every line, then gradually using “an increasingly random process,” this increased randomization Molnar addresses in the quote wouldn’t be possible without the ability of computer software. Such an incremental and gradual change couldn’t be truly replicated by hand, and couldn’t be visually analyzed with a physical representation with a scientific data table on a computer.  “My mother’s letters” represents one of the many examples where science and art are intersectional. The idea that when using computer coding for art you lose an aspect of the artistic compositional process, or an ability to convey emotion that is typically associated with science. Computer backgrounds completely ignore that intersection where data that is able to be represented by art and vise versa.
The computer’s use of repetition and gradualism, although “commonly debated” enables one to accurately display gratuity, one increment at a time, and removes the idea of “good composition” that is associated with classical art. It also aids the idea of proportionality, given the fact that only one increment can be tweaked and not all at a proportional level.

When pairing gradualism with repetition each change creates a newly altered image.  I agree with Molnar that a “computer-aided procedure is simply a systematization of the traditional approach.” Every previous sketch allows the ability to repeat drawings that had appeared before the change was made.

Similar to Molnar in “My Mother’s Letters,” I experimented several times with the parameter i was changing. When I was doing my response to Molnar’s work, and utilizing these computerized functions such as for, float,or random, I used these functions exclusively as a tool in order to express my art, rather than giving the computer complete control the sketch.

I had full governance over my art. I didn’t leave anything up to chance or indiscriminate of the function type.  Even where the computer could chose randomly, each set or “array” of numbers had been continuously altered by me prior for an extended time in order for it to convey what I wanted to convey.

The parameter I chose to change was the variable Z which represents not only the width and height of the ellipse but also a maximum amount of rings surrounding each circle.  As Z increases, the frequency the circles show and the amount each decreases. When changing this, my goal was to represent the gradual decay of forest life and oxygen. I used gradient  to represent the rings of the tree and the stroke width to represent the about of oxygen that tree produces.