Week 7: Algorithmic, Abstract, Art

Can arithmetic based creations be considered as art? In terms of computer generated art, algorithms, logical processes in achieving some result, are crucial in the makeup of a computer program. These indicate logical manipulations that instruct the computer to generate a visualization. The question can again be reiterated as to qualify artistic value of algorithmic art.

Roman Verostko, an American artist creates code-generated algorithmic art and developed software in 1987 to control a line plotter that produces pen and ink drawings. He takes his designs of abstract formations through the medium of the computer, which generates algorithms to perform sequences that are then visualized into those abstract forms.  In describing his work, he says, “Such art has been labeled variously as ‘concrete,’ ‘abstract,’ ‘nonobjective,’ and ‘nonrepresentational.’ In it’s purist form such art holds no reference to other reality.” With the rise of technological advances with the computer, artists like Verostko are now able to use mathematically composed procedures for generating highly detailed abstract forms of art.

“Such art has been labeled variously as ‘concrete,’ ‘abstract,’ ‘nonobjective,’ and ‘nonrepresentational.’ In it’s purist form such art holds no reference to other reality.”

Artwork made in this way holds some mystery behind its algorithmic structure. In some cases, the artwork itself becomes a kind of visual celebration of the program. How intricately composed a computer generated piece of art can show just how many computations were implemented into performing that task. For Verostko, the result of his labor and programming yields itself as compilation of small strokes, which when formed together, create a stunning abstract image. As technology advances, the code behind the artwork also reflects a higher level of intricacy. According to Verotsko, his artworks become visual manifestations of the dynamic procedures by which they grow. Hidden processing procedures reveal the mystery of the coding in an artistic form, in a style that is sublime: unknown, yet graceful and beautiful.

“They serve as icons illuminating the mysterious nature of our evolving selves”

Returning to the initially posed question: can something so computationally based be considered  genuine art. At its core, a code can be copied and may not hold the same unique intricacies as that of the movement of a hand moving a brush on a canvas. Critics argue that computer algorithms are more distant from normal artistic process than conventional artists. Though algorithmic art is different and can be fundamentally replicated, the amount of computational work poured into a single work can outweigh the fact that it is a series of logical statements. The computer becomes a medium that does not diminish the artist’s individuality and self expression. Though the construction of their work is explicitly recorded, the art-making process becomes the unique experience in which the artist creates (even through trial and error). 

Even today, many artworks are computer based, such as the use of programs like Adobe Photoshop. These programs involve a logic that is algorithmic based, yet continue to reveal an artist’s individual self and creative processing.

Sources: Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology

Addison Bi


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