For this week’s Looking Outwards, I wanted to talk about Vera Molnar, who is regarded as a pioneer of computer generative art and is one of the first women artists to use computers in her practice. Particularly, I was drawn to her piece “(Dés-)Ordres”. What caught my eye initially were the contrasting colors used in different parts of the image, pulling my eye around. This contrast between order and disorder amongst the different layered squares also creates the impression of movement as if the squares are vibrating against one another. Surprisingly, this image was generated with a computer, where Molnar changed the parameters of her algorithm to randomly disrupt the regularity of the concentric squares.
Molnar was born in Hungary in 1924 and studied art history and aesthetics at the Budapest College of Fine Arts. From as early as 1959, she began experimenting with the concept of algorithms or “machine imaginaire” where an image can be created by following a set of pre-ordained compositional rules. In 1968, she begin using computers and plotters to make her paintings and drawings, creating a variety of algorithms iterating simple geometric shapes and geometrical themes.
A particular artist that inspires me is Eva Schindling. Schindling is a master in digital art, creating hardware and software solutions within the fields of art and technology, reaching far past the typical staticness of graphic design. She studied Art and Technology gaining masters from Chalmers University as well as a degree in Interaction and Media Design from FH Joanneum. She currently works in Montreal and has seemingly studied all around the world. Broadly speaking, she’s very interested in the dynamics of non-linear processes with her work ranging from robotics, art, and sculpture, creating complex algorithms that drive her projects. One project I found particularly inspiring was her project called “Liquid Sound Collision”. This project is a sculpture she made with a very unique modeling process after which she 3D printed the structure in an ABS plastic. Using a 2D fluid to create data sets that she interacts with sound files. The amplitude information of the sound files affects the velocity field of the fluid and as sounds move toward the center of that field Schindling manually chose moments before they collide, storing the velocity field data at that point. The values of the velocity field are then “mapped to a height value to create a 3-dimensional landscape.” This is then wrapped around a cylindrical form to create the final sculptures displayed. I admire the extensive processes she takes in order to create her artwork, using deep analysis to create form. This type of work allows for a really complex piece of work with a strong underlying context that grounds her project.
Heather Kelley is a designer that does game design, sense design, and interaction design.
She studied at University where she got her MA in advanced communications technologies. She works at perfect plum currently but she has done many amazing things like co-found Kokoromi and named as one in five of the most powerful women in gaming.
One project I thought was cool was how she added onto a Star Wars exhibit. Basically, she designed kiosks that were in front of characters in the movies and it reveals their origin, family, mentors, careers, and personal values, so people can figure out which character they identify with.
I really admire this project because one it shows how to enhance the experience of an exhibit which in nature can often be boring. Also, it allows people to explore identities and see how they may identify with a character they may not expect.
One female artist that I find inspiring is Eva Schindling. She got a MSc. in art and technology from Chalmers University in Sweden. She “creates hardware and software solutions in the interdisciplinary zone between art, science, technology and design.” Her work has been exhibited all over the world including the Japan Media Arts festival, Hong Kong’s Museum of Art, Moscow’s Biennale of Contemporary Art, and even Burning Man! A project that I find very interesting from her portfolio is La Figure de la Terre. This was a work for the contemporary Finish Opera La Figure de la Terr and it is an Audio-reactive video software. There is not that much explaining the piece, but from the images it seems like this was used as a background to the opera itself. I think it is always exciting to see different applications of computer generated art, and this marriage between theater and computer generated art is especially inspiring!
Link: http://www.evsc.net/projects/la-figure-de-la-terre Artist: Eva Schindling
Chloe Varelidi makes what she calls “unusual games” and other products. Her career began when she got a Master in Fine Arts at Parsons’ Design and Technology Program. She worked with littleBits for many years, and their team won Creative Toy of the Year 2018. Varelidi designs interesting pieces often used for educational purposes or as toys for children. She worked with Mozilla for a while, and was also a game design director. In these various roles she has created numerous projects while collaborating with different teams. She recently founded humans who play, a design company which uses play as a force for doing good. I like her quirky and creative style and how she uses it to connect with her audience. She clearly enjoys her work and feels like it is making a difference. I also love how she can work with many groups to make cool projects.
For this Week’s LO, I will talk about Anne Morgan Spalter, a mixed-media artist that often works with AI, and her installation “Iteration.”
Spalter is known for founding the digital fine art courses at Brown University, as well as those at the Rhode Island School of Design. She originally studied math at Brown but then got her Master of Fine Art at Rhode Island School of Design. Currently, she is working on NFTs.
“Iteration” was created using two image sets, one of Spalter’s own original work and one of random airplane images. She used an algorithm to transform pictures from the first set to that of the second set piece by piece. That is to say that pictures of the first became and more and more like the second each time. She then chose specific “iterations” and painted them with oil.
I admire that it blended both a human and a digital touch to the final product. I also like how it looks overall; each artwork made from the process is interesting. Overall, this piece is now what I think of when I think of algorithmic computer art.
The artist I’ve chosen to write about this week is the amazing electronic music and effects composer, Suzanne Ciani. Beginning at the age of 22, Ciani has wom awards throughout her life for her musicianship, creativity, leadership, and contribution to the electronic music industry. She is the subject of a documentary that was filmed in 2014 to highlight her life and uniquely successful music career. As one of very few women in the music technology major here at CMU, I feel very inspired personally by Suzanne Ciani and I look up to her as a role model. Her design and production of the soundtrack to Greg Kmiec’s Xenon pinball machine is considered a significant milestone in game design history. With the use of new technology (in 1980), Ciani created a composition of interesting and catchy music that reacted directly to gameplay. This added a completely new layer to the game by providing a complex sensory experience that interacted directly with the person playing. I love this concept, and I am excited to try and implement this idea into some of my own projects.
For this week’s blog post, I chose to analyze Ayah Bdeir’s work. Ayah Bdeir is the creator of LittleBits, a software that consist of small circuit boards with specific functions that the user can interact with and learn about these elements without any programming experience.
I really admire Bdier because her work has centered around empowering everyone to be an inventor, she’d had a particular focus on empowering underrepresented communities with the tools to become tomorrow’s change makers. Bdier is a graduate of MIT and has raised over $70 million for LittleBits from prominent investors in Silicon Valley and New York. Today, more than 20 million LittleBits are in the hands of kids around the world and are being used to learn about fundamental elements of technology.
I researched the designer of physical computational devices kate Hartman. Specifically, I was interested in her project “Botanicalls.” Created in 2006, the name implies the purpose of the device: a combination of “botanicals” and “calls,” as in phone calls. The device Hartman developed featured sensors that detected states of the house plant: moisture levels, leaf droopness, leaf colors, etc. and translate them to a more human- understandable language. Using custom-developed software, the device emails and calls human users to notify the caretaker of the plant of these statuses and translates them to what the plant needs: ex. more light, more water, etc. I think this project is really cool as it bridges the gap between the human and natural worlds. It’s especially beneficial for people unfamiliar with caring for plants, as it guides them through the process and deepens the connection and understanding of the plant world. Kate Hartman is based in Toronto and works at OCAD University as a professor of wearable and mobile technology. She studies wearable technology and is passionate about making human interactions with the natural world more connective and integrative through her products.