process / form
July 6, 2008, 5:43 am
Filed under: Art, Programming, Video

March 6th – April 12th, 2008
Bitforms Gallery NYC
529 west 20th street, 2nd floor, New York, NY

In April I had the pleasure of seeing the work of one of my favorite digital artists, C.E.B. Reas, at the Bitforms Gallery in Chelsea. C.E.B. Reas, co-creator of the open-source programming language Processing, focuses on the process and algorithms of digital creation.

In this exhibition, Reas incorporated both method and final product in the display of his work. “Process 18” and “Element 5,” depicted above, were explained thoroughly in writings on the wall next to the pieces:

A rectangular surface filled with instances of Element 5, each with a different size and gray value. Draw a quadrilateral connecting the endpoints of each pair of Elements that are touching. Increase the opacity of the quadrilateral while the Elements are touching.

F2: Line
B1: Constant linear motion
B5: After moving off the surface, enter from the opposite edge
B6: While touching another, orient toward its direction
B7: Deviate from the current direction

In this way, both process and result become part of the exhibition. At right, a two-dimensional black and white linear structure reveals the behaviors applied to geometric elements. On the left half, the same geometry creates a warm three dimensional textures. Embracing both the qualitative nature of human perception and the quantitative rules that define digital culture, organic form emerges from precise mechanical structures.

The exhibition also included several prints of still images of his work, further demonstrating how such precise, analytical geometric functions can create very organic abstract pieces, much like that which could be painted by hand.

Reas’s work is an amazing example of what can be achieved with the intersection of art and digital technology, using algorithms as a traditional artist would use paint.


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