Saturday, January 24, 2015

Science and Art

A few years ago I thought of something about randomizing certain parts of art and seeing if something beautiful could come up. In other words, one could randomize (with a die or, a smarter way would be with a algorithm) aspects of a painting. A simple one would start at a point and go in 8 directions from a point (using the center of a circle and assigning numbers to each direction and off you go!—you can see it clearly here except that this isn't random but pi being mapped out). One could also randomize the colors or, even, the length or the width of the line (in the previous link, it's easy to see why it's preferable to see a specific color for a specific direction. For pi, it allows us to look for a pattern a little more easily—and see there is none). Thus allowing one to create a great amount of art. At random, of course.

Here's another example of this sort of art representing specific concepts. Again, one can do it at random, or one can manipulate it in many different ways. Having it represent something people know seems like a very wise way to go about it. I still lean towards the random, only because it represents an artistic attempt at the old thought experiment of how long would it take a 1000 monkeys typing to come up with Shakespeare, or something similarly powerful? Here our monkey is random. 

And the randomness doesn't have to start at a single point. It could be done in many different ways. For example one could assign a point on the canvas (x,y axis) at random, the direction (note that the direction could also be as close to infinite as possible), the width, the length... well, one could go on forever with the kind of variables that one could manipulate (type of brush stroke, raise of paint and so forth). 

Though I thought of the idea, it doesn't seem especially original. In the Dea Beacon museum I saw something where a man had written instructions for lines, that were similar to the one above. It's not hard to think in a derivative fashion and have a computer come up with those instructions (and carrying them out, incidentally). Wouldn't that be some kind of different art? Where each museum that wants to show something, gets a code and a printer (or a poor artist, who would have to paint a million instructions out, if not more) and put up something completely different from what the previous museum puts up. In other words, they would be focusing on the code, not the art itself, whatever it would create, or hopefully create. One can see numerous ways to illicit something from the viewers of such art (place the randomness on the outline of a world map and see if people understand that it's random or think that it's actually representative of one social economic factor or another).

Why am I talking about such a random topic? Well, the idea of our new technology affecting us is nothing new, nor is it new that it will affect our art, sooner or later. The thing which I think many people are focusing on, is how exactly it's going to change the art world (to include narratives, my own world) because there is an ongoing seismic shift with the process of telling a story (even more so about getting paid for it).

I discussed this with a friend of mine on the edge of that oh so busy Union Square. He discussed numerous ways to tell a story. He first focused on the visual: that one could have a story told while being in the midst of the story itself (you would be using virtual reality goggles, thus changing many aspects of the current, see from one view only, movie format). That led me to think on the current manner of narratives: plays in (some part of Brooklyn, I believe) where a person is in a room and thus gets to participate by being in it (instead of separated from it, though I don't think that they have actual parts in the play) and seeing it from only one angle (one room). To see the rest of the story, then, one must go and see the play again in a different way. 

Not revolutionary, but original nonetheless. These are the ideas being plotted around the world, as people see the need for new narratives. And I too am feeling that push. I love the novel, think it does a lot. But has its time come to pass? Not that text-based narratives are over, but rather that the style of novels as we know them is. I mentioned hypertext fiction earlier. Fractal writing, as I call it. I will soon put up an example. But what do you think is the future of text-narratives? Are we done with looking into one author's imagination? 

Technology is surely going to change it (even the author-reader relationship) whether we like it or not. Some people see every single representation of a new text-narrative as something horrendous, perhaps even a sign of disintegration that no one wants to face up to. But I am now more certain than ever that technology will change the novel and text-narratives for the better. And these discussion are why: everyone is moving forward with their ideas.

As we can see from the first two links on Science and Art, where they are using more and more varied visual representations  of scientific representations (or in my fanciful thinking, one where randomness would be represented), there are many ways that technology will change this medium (big data being represented would be another one). As it will do the same for text-based ones.

More to come on this topic. But until then, what are your thoughts.

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  1. Dem sum pretty pictures, son, pics that represent important numbers in humanity's history. Not random. Random, whatever scientists tell us, tells us nutting. And a story teller should step away from random. Always. Otherwise you out of a job. Pick a good number then, and make it pretty.

    1. All right Stevie, step aside. Random, could (there's an emphasis on this word) create something of beauty through this method. The question would be how many tries would result in beauty?


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