Adam Herst is a Toronto based artist, arts manager, and technology consultant. He is interested in the tension between ideas, their ownership, and their reproduction, and in exploring the proposition that ideas which are designed for dissemination will be disseminated. When Adam isn't creating art, he helps arts organizations and other non-profits make the most of their investments in technology.
(All works by Adam Herst
are licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.)
But for a long time, our static media, whether carvings in stone, ink on paper, or dye on celluloid, have strongly resisted the evolutionary impulse, exalting as a consequence the author's ability to determine the finished product. But, as in an oral tradition, digitized information has no "final cut."
After all, if your program can’t do anything more than what you could do quicker, better, or more creatively with a physical object, why bother using a computer at all.
When I hear what we call music, it seems to me that someone is talking. And talking about his feelings, or about his ideas of relationships. But when I hear traffic, the sound of traffic — here on Sixth Avenue, for instance — I don't have the feeling that anyone is talking. I have the feeling that sound is acting. And I love the activity of sound...I don't need sound to talk to me.
When we are involved in creative play, we are making something, but the point is not the something, but the making.
How to explain pictures to a computer is an ongoing project in which I respond to the exercises in Arthur Wesley Dow's Composition: A series of exercises in art structure for the use of students and teachers.
Sketches run in a web browser. Each image created by each sketch is unique within a set of predetermined parameters. Click on the images to run the sketches. Once the sketch is running, you can click on the image to change it.
In the space arts there are three structural elements with which harmonies may be built up:
These three structural elements are intimately related...
The best plan is to take up exercises in each element in turn; then go back to them separately and make more detailed studies; then combine them, proceeding toward advanced compositions.
Begin with straight lines, remembering that straightness of direction is the essential thing, not mere geometric straightness.
After some practice with straight lines, try curves.
Then irregular lines.
Little can be expressed until lines are arranged in a Space...
Ways of arranging and spacing I shall call Principles of Composition. In my experience, these five have been sufficient:
Two lines meeting form a simple and severe harmony.
If a third [curved] line is added...the opposition is softened and an effect of unity and completeness produced.
The most common and obvious way of satisfying the desire to order is to place two equal lines or shapes in exact balance.
Practice in line arrangment is a preparation for all kinds of art work...
For these elementary exercises in composition the square and the circle are best because their boundaries are unchangeable, and attention must be fixed upon interior lines.
The square and the circle allow choice only as to interior divisions, but the rectangle is capable of infinite variation in its boundary lines.
One good way to stimulate invention in composing pottery shapes is to evolve them from rectangles. Curved profiles are only variations of rectangular forms ... . Change the height and a series of new shapes will result.
Returning now to the thought that the picture and the abstract design are much alike in structure, let us see how some of the simple spacings may be illustrated by landscape.
As there is no word in English to express the idea contained in the phrase "dark-and-light", I have adopted the Japanese word "notan".
A sketch to explore notan harmonies.
Color, however complicated, may be reduced to three simple elements:
A sketch to explore colour harmonies. (You will be asked to allow the sketch to access your webcam. When you do, the sketch may take a few seconds to start running.)
Practice in simple harmonies gives control of the more complex relations, and enables one to create with freedom in any field of art.
Tokonoma was inspired by the designs for the "... built-in recessed space in a Japanese style reception room, in which items for artistic appreciation are displayed." An initial space is created within the constraints of a traditional tokonoma on a random basis. Found and algorithmically generated images are displayed in randomly determined sizes and colours within predetermined ranges and palletes.
Hares and Squares was inspired by the watercolor Young Hare by Albrecht Duhrer and the plotter drawing 100 Carres by Vera Molnar. The initial image is a photograph of Young Hare. The image is replicated with each replication converted into three values determined on a random basis. Each value in each image is then randomly coloured from a predetermined pallete. The images are then arranged on a grid with a randomly determined displacement in a fashion pioneered by Molnar.