Posts Tagged ‘abstract’

I have an interactive, projected work in an exhibition at McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario, presented in conjunction with the conference “Intensities and Lines of Flight: Deleuze, Guattari and the Arts”.


About the work:

netLines is a complex interactive system which exhibits a range of different behaviours. The composition consists of 10,000 lines which traverse the whole space, and the voids in the space are created by the absence of lines. The lines are simultaneously repelled from all these voids until they reach positions of equilibrium. Voids can be expanded by clicking or dragging on them with the mouse pointer. This affects the whole field and the lines are forced to jitter around until they find new equilibrium positions. Different behaviours can be elicited with different levels and intensities of interaction. The sound of the work changes to reflect these different behaviours.


Public Events:

Friday, May 4, 5:00 P.M.
Keynote address: Josée Drouin Brisebois, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada, Conron Hall, University College, Western University

Friday, May 4, 7:00 P.M.
Lines of Flight reception, McIntosh Gallery. Join Josée Drouin Brisebois, exhibiting artists and conference delegates to open the exhibition and conference. Hors d’oeuvre and aperitifs served.

Sunday, May 6, 11:00 A.M.
Intensities and Lines of Flight exhibition tour, McIntosh Gallery


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The London Nuit Blanche, part of the Fringe Festival, took place on the evening of June 18th, 2011. The activities that took place at London Museum are described here:


The evening went well, with large numbers of visitors. I found the experimental music stimulating, and it interacted with my work in an interesting way.  My Vision Persist program was showing on the ground floor throughout the evening. This work generates simple abstract paintings whose colours bleed into each other over time – creating stains and blooms of new colours which spread across the “canvas”. Viewers were able to draw into the canvas themselves by using a mouse on a podium – so they could influence the evolution of the painting by adding their own coloured shapes which would then continue to evolve and affect the colours around them.

People seemed to find the work easy and enjoyable to interact with –   I saw people of all ages having a play with it.  My only criticism was that the program ran a bit slowly, only updating at about 5 frames per second. In terms of the evolution of the painting, I didn’t have a problem with this, as it created a sort of slow, meditative feeling. However, as the users’ drawing had to wait for the screen updates, drawing wasn’t very smooth. If you confined your drawing to a smallish area to create blobs it worked well, but users who tried to create rapid lines and swirls found the lines would break up into a series of unconnected points.  I need to have the screen updates and the drawings running in separate threads – so that even when the screen is updating at a low framerate, drawing can still take place at a high framerate.

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Vision Persist, an interactive, abstract projection, will be showing at the Hide & Seek, Show & Tell event which is part of the Nuit Blanche art evening in London, Ontario.  Saturday 18th June, starts 9pm, finishes 3 am. The space will also feature live music, zine tables, and art workshops.  http://museumlondon.ca/programsevents/nuitblanche/

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I have a couple of works up at gallery modernarts in London Ontario, which specialises in abstract works. The works are unique framed prints which are outputs of two different abstract painting generators.

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I have created a new abstract painting generation algorithm which chooses colours according to certain colour harmonies, arrranges the starting elements in a (somewhat) random manner, and then evolves the painting gradually over time using the Four Winds algorithm. I’m very pleased with this work as it not only creates interesting colour/texture/composition combinations, but the colours continue to be pushed around into new combinations as the program runs. It changes slowly, but it’s interesting to watch if you enjoy this sort of thing.

The initial colour harmonies are based on colour theory,  with monochromatic, complementary, colour triads and so on – with a lot of random variation in the colours and some extra colours sometimes thrown in randomly. The number of colours is kept integral (8, 16, 64 or 128), and the colours used are stored in arrays and then drawn on when the “initial seed painting” is drawn. This is analogous to a painting process where the artist mixes the colours he needs before starting painting. The evolution process cannot create any new colours – no blending occurs. This keeps the painting surface pretty flat and digital-looking, which I like.

I like digital paintings that look like digital paintings. There’s no need to try and draw on the prestige of a “superior” medium by trying to emulate its effects. No, these paintings are unashamedly digital.

I have kept the gamut of variability pretty wide on these paintings – so the colour harmonies are not too tightly programmed. So some surprising colour combinations can still occur (not always pretty!).

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I’m quite excited by this program as it addresses some of the concerns I have with generative art I have seen in the past, which I talked about in my last post. Starting from a single image, this program shifts colours around from place to place, creating what appear to be competing colonies of colour which grow, move around, and die off over time, almost like fungal or bacterial colonies in a petri-dish. It’s very pleasing to watch this run and see just how long it will run for, creating surprising and interesting compositions from the original colour palette of the image.

“Four Winds” refers to the four drawing methods which are essentially competing against each other in the picture frame. What is drawn in a particular area of the image depends on the hue that is already there, but also on an internal “clock” in the program (360 degrees, which advances one degree every second). It is this clock which creates the cyclic nature of the transformations. Without this feature, one colour would outcompete the others quite quickly. The effect of the “clock” is to create a cyclical changing selection pressure which drives the composition through its cyclic (but never repeating) phases.

You can see the program running here . Use keys 1-4 to select the seed image. ‘R’ resets to the original image, keeping the current seed image.

Screenshots: below we see the starting “seed image”, followed by some phases of evolution (each a few minutes apart).

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Latest version of the genetic algorithm abstract painting generator. I’ve removed lines and arcs as they tend to create a lot of small lines with a range of different colours which can look quite horrible. This version just uses rectangles, ellipses, brushstrokes and scribbles (plus some filter-type effects).  I think it looks much more painterly.

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