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July 31, 2015
Blog 18

ALGORITHMIC AND MATHEMATICAL ART

A view of the art of four prominent artists

Fractal, algorithmic and mathematical art is a widely-practiced and dynamic area of digital art.

The four artists included here employ mathematical or algorithmic programs to draw their art. Many use programs available publicly, but some are themselves mathematicians and programmers who draw images by writing their own code. Some artists are purists, who publish their art exactly as the computer draws them to screen. Others engage in so-called post-processing, wherein the image is enhanced or manipulated, to a greater or lesser degree, to serve the purposes of the artist.

Charles Csuri

In the era of the punch-card computer Charles Csuri turned from a successful career as a modernist painter to the improbable potential of digital art. That was in 1964. Now 93 years old, Csuri is recognized as one of the great teachers, researchers and pioneers of computer art. He is today professor emeritus at Ohio State University, where he taught and headed up its digital art program for many years. He is one of the fathers of programmed and algorithmic art, of 3D still art and animation, of virtual reality, and his work has influenced such fields as flight simulation, magnetic resonance imaging, game design and more. His students populate many digital animation companies including Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic, and Silicon Graphics, and his own art and research have been celebrated worldwide in many shows and publications.

Charles Csuri's website

Scribbles
by Charles Csuri

Tom Hubbard

Tom Hubbard writes, "I've come to digital abstract art after a lifetime career of realistic photography. I was a television director in Norfolk and Atlanta before becoming a newspaper photographer in Atlanta and Cincinnati. While at the Cincinnati Enquirer, from 1966 to 1978, I won 22 Ohio awards for photojournalism and two national awards, including a National Press Photographers Association award for best photo story coverage of the Senate Watergate Hearings.

"I now bring abstract elements to the foreground, elevating them from a supporting role to being the subject. I work spontaneously on a piece until I see a theme. Each work remains abstract, but I see a visual theme or narrative.

"Themes arise automatically from a store of experiences from my career in realistic photography. Good photography elicits an emotional response. I work until I perceive an emotion represented in abstract forms. Usually, I feel authorship. Other times, images manifest themselves from beyond my conscious awareness."

Tom Hubbard's art on the Web

Asterik
by Tom Hubbard

Alex Dragulesco

Alex Dragulescu is a Romanian visual artist whose practice embraces both traditional and new media. His projects are experiments and explorations of algorithms, computational models, simulations and information visualizations that involve data derived from databases, spam emails, blogs and video game assets.

He has a BS in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College and a Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from University of California at San Diego.

The images from the Spam Architecture series are generated by a computer program that accepts junk email as input. Various patterns, keywords and rhythms found in the text are translated into three-dimensional modeling gestures.

Alex Dragulescu's website

Spam Architecture
by Alex Dragulescu

San Base

San Base was born in 1956 in the former Soviet Union, where he developed a strong interest in mathematics and computer technology. In 1996 he immigrated to Canada where he now lives. He calls his art Dynamic Painting, a painting changed with time, as new images are generated from an original image. It was an idea that took eight years of dedication and perseverance to realize. So his art is always a variation on a theme. He writes, "The artist creates the basic idea of the picture (plot, esthetics), basic colours, basic principles of their development. Then a computer works on the picture's individuality, adding more variations and fluctuations of the basic elements and letting them develop with time: the picture living its own life with objects moved and transformed but still following the original artist's concept. This method is a dynamic form of Generative Art...Once static, the [original] picture is now transformed into a never-ending show with images being [replaced] hour by hour, day by day, month by month. None of the images repeat previous ones and will never repeat again." The original size of the images is a huge 11000 x 7800 pixels. It's a stunning performance.

San Base's website

The Place Where Only Yesterday
by San Base

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MUSEUMS, COMMUNITIES, GALLERIES

Digital Art Gallery Online
Digital gallery of best pictures and photos from portfolios of digital artists.

Digital Art Served
Top work in categories such as computer graphics, matte painting, digital painting and photo manipulation.

Soho Arthouse (Soho Gallery For Digital Art)
Event space, gallery, tech, film screening room, product launches, pop-up, fashion week, charity art shows in NYC.

DAM - Digital Art Museum
Museum and gallery

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art
The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art is a contemporary gallery in downtown LA dedicated to the propagation of all forms of digital art, new media, digital video.

DeviantART
Community of artists and those devoted to art. Digital art, skin art, themes, wallpaper art, traditional art, photography, poetry / prose. Art prints.

Renderosity
Almost entirely 3D rendered art from such programs as 3DS Max, Maya, Lightwave and others.

Museum of Computer Art
Nonprofit US educational corporation chartered by the NYS Department of Education.

Digital Art Online
Online digital art exhibition space. Includes thematic exhibitions.

Museum of Digital Fine Arts
Spotlighting the most brilliant new artists of the modern age.

Digital Arts: California
Showcase of digital art both physical (in gallery) and virtual (online).

COMMENTARY ON THE ART OF ERIC WAYNE

The Digital Impasto Technique

The folIowing was excerpted and edited from an article by Gary Singh in the July/August issue of the magazine EE Computer Graphics and Applications.

Eric Wayne implements a technique he calls 'digital impasto' in order to replicate traditional painting on a computer. In the world of analog painting, impasto refers to a style where thick brush strokes are prevalent, often due to the artist physically mixing the paints on the canvas, which adds a more 3D appeal and enables more opportunities for light to affect or reflect from the overall painting. Think Van Gogh or Vermeer.

Wayne's formal training, all the way through his MFA, included traditional drawing and painting as well as performance art and installation, but it wasn't until after college that he acquired his first computer and learned to use Adobe Photoshop. Just the process of juxtaposing transparent layers independently of each other opened up a whole new way of operating.

"I recognized that because the computer was infinitely flexible, with enough ingenuity and perseverance, anything could be achieved," Wayne recalled. "Moving from analog to digital made as much sense as moving from the typewriter to word processing."

The digital impasto technique emerged as a result of Wayne's natural affinity for traditional painters who originally used the technique. Working in software then allowed him to integrate such an approach with methods unique to the digital world. He wanted to recreate what he missed about traditional painting while simultaneously combining those approaches with elements like 3D modeling, photo manipulation, or multilayered digital collages. To Wayne, choosing pixels over oil paints seemed no different than a composer writing a concerto on a synthesizer, as opposed to working solely from an acoustic piano.

"For me, the core of art is the image, not a painted object," Wayne explains, adding that his goal is to simply make new and original ideas for the collective imagination, no more, no less. "I also am a very process-oriented artist in that I use experimentation and mistakes extensively as a way to discover new directions, and the computer allows instantaneous and infinite reworking."

The image Rorschach Experiment features Wayne's digital impasto technique. The title refers to the Rorschach Test in the sense that Wayne made some initial marks and smudges and then looked at them to come up with more ideas. "[It] was entirely about trying to see how far I could take digital impasto, and the image wasn't that important," he says. "However, in the process it became more psychedelic..."

"[It's like a] Van Gogh/Picasso hybrid, done by a schizophrenic inebriated on absinthe." By 'schizophrenic,' Wayne refers to the famous cat paintings of Louis Wain, painted during his alleged descent into psychosis.

Digital Van Gogh

The digital impasto effect requires three ingredients: a way to brush or drag pigment; a way to bump it, such as embossing it; and a light source. Wayne says he stumbled on the technique many years ago. Practically by accident, he discovered that after bumping a photo and smearing it, a brush-stroke effect tended to emerge. It resembled the texture of hot buttery oil paints. After tweaking several parameters like opacity, it became a convoluted process involving multiple layers and filters. "I started attempting to create impasto because it was the one thing that digital art was thought to be incapable of, and it was also one of my favorite things about painting. You can do an illustration, but you can't do something like a Van Gogh. Or so it seemed."

The result is hauntingly real. In fact, it looks more like painting that most paintings do. Which brings to mind the many detractors Wayne claims he encounters, the ones who argue that digital art should not look like painting. "Oil painting has no monopoly on making imagery," he writes on his website. "If I draw with a stylus, it's going to look like a drawing with pencil or charcoal; and if I apply color by using strokes, it's going to look like a painting.' In other words, the criticism is like arguing that no one should use a word processor. And that everyone should write by hand. In any event, for Wayne, his attention to detail and texture just about justifies a reason for working this way. The digital impasto technique is one that requires experience in both traditional and digital processes. When the viewer really looks closely at the image, knowing that each brush stroke is painted individually, then one can ascertain the amount of work required. It isn't easy. Claiming this flavor of digital art is 'computer generated' and therefore not authentic, or that 'the computer did it' or that Wayne is simply a 'pixel manipulator,' is just as ridiculous as saying Microsoft Word wrote your novel for you. "[Nowadays] programs like Painter and ArtRage do a lot of the work for you, which I only discovered in the last six months," Wayne said. "But even if you know the technique, it's something else to employ it effectively. Each stroke is done individually, so you still need a fundamental understanding of drawing or painting to pull it off."

Eric Wayne's art on the Web

Detail from a digital impasto image by Eric Wayne

Detail from a digital impasto image by Eric Wayne