Out of the artworks presented in this week’s readings, Electronic Media Artist Jon McCormack’s piece, bloom, specifically intrigued me. Commissioned for the QUT Kelvin Grove Road Creative Industries Precinct’s 45 meter billboard in Queensland Australia, bloom is a large-scale software-generated digital image that depicts mutated and crossbred synthesized virtual representations of native Australian flora.
Completed in June 2006, McCormack created these images utilizing his own software that emulates the natural growth processes of plant life, utilizing digital ‘genes’ that can be manipulated, mutated, and cross-bred by the artist. This represents a shift in the traditional role of the artist, as McCormack did not specifically design the organisms represented in his piece but rather he manipulated the way in which the organisms evolved into the final synthesized species. In order to do this, Jon began with representations of native Australian plant species and the genetic information that governs their growth, behavior, and appearance in the virtual environment. With this information, McCormack then had these genes undergo mutations and various selection processes (“breeding”).
Through this process, the artist was able to synthesize an end product that contains both elements of the familiar and the bizarre. As this work was displayed on the large 45 meter Kelvin Grove screen on the side of a road, McCormack hopes to bring focus to the proposition that synthetic fauna might one day replace natural ecology in urban areas as more and more species become threatened by humanity.
– Dorian Koehring