Chance creates beauty
Software. Digital print. Large variables. 2014.
I often promised myself to never let my work as a mathematician and programmer influence my work as an artist. But sometimes it nevertheless happens, for instance in my project Forest 2.0. I hit on the basic idea while contemplating an older oil painting of mine, which shows a symmetrical tree diagram ending in colorful blossoms, together with mysterious mathematical formulas.
My educational background as a number theorist played an important role during the genesis of Forest 2.0: I wrote a computer program, based on the ancient idea that any number can be written as a product of prime numbers. After entering some parameters, this code generates cryptic looking tree diagrams and saves them as vector graphics. I then edit and adjust them using an image editing tool. Since the results are saved as infinitely scalable graphics, they can be printed out in any size.
But although I am responsible for the whole creative process – from the mathematical knowledge required to code the recursive script to the digital editing and printing the result – randomness always plays a role in the process. At its core, chance is a very natural and likewise artistic entity, since it creates beauty. In any closed system with continuously arising random events, human beings recognize a form of pleasing, often truly aesthetic symmetry.
Of course, I always define a specific height and a starting number for all trees, which roughly control the ferocity of their proliferation. But their specfic look is always created by a randomized computer algorithm based on constantly decreasing numerical values. I also let the algorithm randomly define some color parameters.
One thing, however, is always done by myself and not by chance: the actual selection of which of the trees created get printed out and framed in the end. Thus, ultimately, the artist still has final authority when it comes to defining what a real artwork is – and not randomness.
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