I’ve been working for the last few years using a combination of “creative coding” applications like Processing, thanks in part to the very large community that supports each other in the development and sharing of open source code and new media creation tools. Max/MSP, Quartz Composer and openFrameworks. Although I wrote HTML as a web designer for awhile, I’m not a coder or a programmer and have made a start in part thanks to this wonderul, sharing community and the ability to cut and paste code, tweak it until I’ve gotten satisfactory results, and combined this with more widely used and sophisticated user-interface driven generative and procedural painting applications like Studio Artist 4.
I didn’t originally expect this to be a quick or short learning curve, and therefore I consider the work so far to be more like digital sketching, works in progress and exploratory in nature. Given that I’m not a coder and so much of the beautiful generative art shown at museums and major exhibitions is produced by so many talented coders, I see the process and form of my work continually being refined over time.
This work combines a number of generative, procedural drawing and algorithmic brush based painting, which means that the the code underlying a brush style modifies and changes in real time depending on variables, such as pen angle, pressure, and mathematical changes that vary “under the hood” while you draw. One could say my work does not fall within the generally supported definition of “generative,” which is to say that it is not done entirely in writing source code using programming languages, databases, data mapping, fractals, chaos theory and an overall aesthetic approach based on concepts of breeding, automatic selection rules and many other factors relating to computational aesthetics. Some of it is, and that work is then merged and layered in with UI-driven computer art software with other work that has been created “manually” with the artist intentionally interceding in the computer’s decision making process, which in many ways would make these images quasi-generative in nature.
Sometime soon I’ll be writing to elaborate on the work going on to give generative software more artist-friendly user interfaces, and what’s available.
And so, part of my exploration here is not just the work itself, much of my intention is to raise questions about exactly what can or can’t be considered generative art, whether the genre can evolve to perhaps include this kind of hybrid work or whether it belongs in a genre of it’s own. At the same time I and other artists are exploring what could be considered processes in digital abstract expressionism, a metaphor that it seems to me fits nicely with the often chaotic, immersive, ever changing nature of generative art. What I often think about is opposed to paint drips, while the medium is digital the process is random, playful and the underlying code creates “algorithm drips.” It may be presumptuous for me to define it as anything, and let others be the judge.