Painting by research? Quantitative critique? Art? Infographics?

David Diao’s work is available for purchase on eBay, check it out.

I’d think virtually every artist’s path includes a bit of research in previous artists. Then there’s a time where that growing artist takes on elements of the previous artist and melds it into their own works. Some even start to extend the previous artist’s work with their own. Sometimes the connection is so strong that artists feel they understand the previous artist’s path enough to take it to where it needs to go. A lot of artists choose Abstract Expressionist artists for this. I even saw an article that engineers and scientists used Jackson Pollack as inspiration for a new 3D printing technique. I’d say it’s pretty common.

David Diao’s work is the first time I’ve seen the conversation between current and a previous artist unfold in what appears to be a more clinical fashion where the current artist’s work grows from the previous by being an analysis of what the other has done, as Diao has done with Barnett Newman.

David Diao, Barnett Newman: Paintings by Title & Size, 1992, Thanks Greene Naftatli Gallery

Certainly artists have done homages and created work that comments on the prior’s output. That appears not to be the case here. From the pieces provided in the links I found, the body of work looks to be almost infographical about Newman’s life and works. This also sort of rhymes with The Art of Noise’s Seduction of Claude Debussy. AoN leads us through Debussy’s life and samples his work to present it in their album. In both, we are offered only a small amount of the history and catalog to consider. We are to infer something about the work and gather our own thoughts about what is presented – obviously this fits in tightly with the Abstract Expressionist movement. 

David Diao at Office Baroque, Brussels click the image to read more from Mousse Magazine

When taking in the extent of the work presented, I think there’s a lot to consider here. Is it a ‘new’ sort of art that’s more storytelling than abstract art ever pretended to be? Is it more graphic design coming of age as a ‘fine art’? Is it neither? Both? The Hyperallergic article draws in a vast swathe of connecting thoughts that extends a potentiality of thoughts to consider. I can’t speak to the voracity of those aspects and details, as I did just a modicum of research myself. 

This all goes back to what I really wanted this site to do: present interesting artistic endeavors. In my mind, Diao’s work absolutely does present a cognitive workout for the viewer – only through time-tested flat art mediums rather than fancy tech-based processes. 

Making data beautiful – or extracting beauty from data.

I think I touched on this a while back but there was a time where digital art was made by scientists. Then there was a time where designers got to play. After they both had their independent stabs at it, they merged. That became the time of infographics. 

At first it was really interesting as people took large data sets and made beautiful things. It became a thing. Then people realized the great populace would stop their scrolling to look at such things. Then the great dumbing of Marketing happened. The world of pretty and challenging data representations drowned in the tide of ‘infographics’ that merely consisted of a few icons and a few figures. 

Sigh. It was a good time back in the day.

Every once in a while someone starts making really amazing data-derived art. Today we can look at Nathalie Miebach’s work that’s built with data sets from weather patterns and COVID data. 

The intriguing part of the work is that it exists from techniques far away from the conventional data art stuff. What I would describe as sculptural assemblages that even include weaving features to tell the story of that data. I find them to be incredible – especially as they burst out of the two-dimensional world where most data-based art lives. You have to check out more of her work.

Miebach’s work gives me hope that maybe others could again take the large data sets that make up our world and our experiences to produce something at least interesting to look at. Now, that could be a bit easier as there’s a way one could torture the data for art using the programming language R (yeah, I know we could have an argument about whether R is merely a scripting language or an actual programming language, but whatever).

Saúl Buentello takes you through how to use the packages in his article on Towards Data Science. I’d add more links but you really want to step through with Saúl and read how things work. The instructions on that link and the information on GitHub is really well done. Maybe you can create beauty from mere reporting, as well.

Messing with Rendering Technology for Art’s Sake

In the design world and in the engineering world renderings have been pushed to be as close to real as possible. A considerable amount of money and development has gone into honing the technology towards this pursuit. The results speak for themselves.

It’s fascinating that you can take this software, whose aim is photo-realism and turn it on its head to create some extraordinarily creative, otherworldly work. I suppose this follows in a similar vein with how auto-tune has gone from purely a product that aims to refine less than perfect singing to perfection to a device that offers greater albeit otherworldly creative output. 

[ab] normal project certainly has its foundation in the architectural realm – which is certainly cool and interesting. I’d like to see how much further taking rendering software into the more expressive, less grounded in realism world could end up creating more interesting pursuits of art. 

Special thanks to Arch Daily for the find!

Alex Dodge’s Digital Integrations in Fine Art Painting

Dark Wizard, 2020 From Design Milk

To me, the real intriguing aspects of Alex Dodge‘s work come from the process of building the pieces. Design milk has done a nice overview of the methods Dodge uses, so I’ll let you swing over there to read more about it. The ‘tool chain’ Dodge uses is particularly exciting as it opens new avenues for conventional visual art.

From Alex Dodge’s site

There seems to be this canyon between digital and fine art that seems to be particularly unbridgeable. While many have tried, the worlds seem to be more like oil and water, resisting on a molecular level their bonding. Thinking more about how Dodge uses digital modeling as the sketch stage of the work, yet not letting it overpower represents a possible entry point in combining the two.

Further, the inclusion of CNC processes to develop the templates for what appears to be compiling and rendering the image in the real world is a great use of CNC abilities without the works exclaiming, “Hey I have a CNC router!”

All this points to a good series of examples where a multi-faceted integration of today’s technologies can potentially be used to create work that can portray a humanized interaction and perhaps help show a direction forward for fine art in the increasingly digital world.

2D Art Over Time

Courtesy the site

A personal question that I ruminate on quite often (and is probably the reason for this site) is what is the future of art? I’m specifically talking about the fine art part – painting and drawing.

Currently, I don’t have a comfortable answer. There’s probably going to be some sort of evolution involved. I’ve seen such an evolution happen in the design world. I’m not sure it’s fully complete yet but what the results look like so far isn’t as exciting as I’d like it to be.

With that ominous and probably depressing intro, I’d like to present something that gives me quite a bit of hope. Tom Whitwell has used an e-paper display to show a movie over a period of a month. While that’s cool all by itself, I think the technique could be a really interesting platform for fine art projects.

Art could now exist in a changing state – a sort of evolution. Or maybe life-cycle. It becomes even more intriguing when you think of the possibilities in just those two descriptions. I think a commentator on the page (that also explains how to do it) called it ‘living art’ – that’s also an interesting way to think of its potential, as if it continues to play forever.

Once again from

The important part to consider is the speed at which the image changes. Or lack of speed. It’s certainly not a movie. It’s not 12-30fps. by any means. The slow changes in image means each key frame is considered much more than in any sort of video. I’d figure that the artist could also utilize frame rate as a tool.

That means an artist can spend the time on each frame as one would with a conventional 2D art piece. That’s the aspect that gives me a bit of hope and a potential answer to my previously mentioned ruminations.

Pushing AI in Art

A view of the process from MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab

Another paper has come out about how researchers have taught an AI system to paint in the manner of a number of artists. From a machine learning perspective, the project is pretty darn impressive and I personally find it quite interesting to read through the training process. It’s particularly unique in that it appears to not start from finished works like most so far, rather by watching how people paint and emulating the human process. 

I want nothing to take away from the triumph that these researchers have achieved, but I guess I’m waiting for the era when AI emulation gives way to the creation of new expressions. I am hoping soon enough that the more clever of the artists out there can take this technology and use it to create something spectacular and well beyond mimicking other artists. 

Some examples from Ms. Shane’s excellently named blog

A great example of what I’m hoping for is what Janelle Shane has experimented with by combining a machine learning system (Runway AI) trained on the Great British Bake-off and apparently random squirrel images to come out with something decidedly different and fresh – in a pretty odd way. The process has a feel to me not unlike the process of glitching out video and the effects look like they have the same presence.

To me, this is when AI art will really come into its own and I’m excited for the first project when someone can take that and bend it to make their own statements. 

The Art of the Tactility of Sound – Steve Parker

Two things I struggle with is how music will continue to be its own experience to the listener, especially as technology keeps developing new ways of interactivity as well as a similar struggle with determining the same about art. Times when I really work to consider these things, I arrive at the thought that both fine art, as conventionally known, and music, as conventionally consumed, feel like they are hopelessly ‘flat’ in today’s world. This seems especially so in the face of what’s being done with video game technology, AR and so on. 

Installations like Steve Parker’s Ghost Box I think does a great job of breaking up that ‘flatness’ of presentation of both mediums. The music looks to become something tactile and engaging in its human-scale topography that can be explored. A lot of how this works is talked about in a recent exhibition he had at the CUE Art Foundation – which I’m also going to follow and maybe visit in the near future.

Over the number of installations Steve has put together, he looks to have created experiences that can be seemingly different at every exposure. To me, that’s something special and exciting – especially when thinking about the relevance of the two artforms going forward.

AR Art Installations

A while ago, somewhere in William Gibson’s Blue Ant series, he laid out the premise of artists doing installations in a sort of augmented reality. These were location dependent works where one had to know the exact coordinates to view the art. It looks like that capability is knocking on our doors with XRAD Remote Positioning.

Of course, it’s currently set up only on iPhones and it appears to be only set up for the city of London. It does though open very interesting opportunities for the evolution of art. While on one level, it creates a whole new way of being creative with a palette of location and temporal tools at one’s disposal that, aside from graffiti and actually getting installation grants, allows the ability to work with spaces and time in new ways. I’m sure there could also be interactivity integrated as well. 

There is of course a few other options, like ScrapeKit which seems to be a bit more inclusive in terms of platforms. From the demos, it looks like this tech is just about ready for experimentation. Has anyone out there started using these platforms for more creative pursuits? If you know of projects, please add to the comments!

I’m thinking, since this sort of art would require an app to access at a certain point in the process, the AR format could also solve one of the more irksome aspects of digital art – how to get paid and how to preserve the value of the work. Perhaps access to the artwork could be managed with…wait for it…a block chain system*. Ownership then has a much better ability to be controlled, valued and thus sought after. This could create the demand to drive the market.

*Yeah, I went there. Had to win the tech buzzword bingo on an art blog!

Cyanotypes and Process Heavy Collage Work

Courtesy of Design You Trust

I’m a sucker for process. I’m also a sucker for works that have certain emergent qualities to them. Wu Chi-Tsung has put together a series of rather amazing landscapes using analog collage techniques combined with traditional Chinese brush work (to be honest, I’m also a sucker for the later as well to the point where I seek out books on it whenever I get to China.)

To exactly lift the description of the process from the artist,”a form of ink painting collage…a conventional method, combines with wrinkled-texture cyanotype. Rice papers with photosensitive coating were wrinkled and exposed under sunlight to record the lighting and shading on the paper. A selection from dozens of pieces of cyanotype photographic paper was reorganized and edited before mounting on a canvas. The work is displayed in a style resembling Chinese Shan Shui and photomontage.”

I wish my studio looked like the top of the image. Unfortunately, it looks like the bottom.

I found an interview with Wu as well as his personal artwork site. While the collage works are great, there’s even better pieces in his portfolio.

While bearing slightest of connections, it reminds me of back in college when I was messing around with doing collage on photocopiers. Naturally, Wu’s process is much more vibrant and intensive. I kind of wish I could find more information about the process and ideally process pictures documenting their construction.

What I did find was another artist who produces works using the cyanotype process. The best part is the article goes into detail on how to actually operate the process. Of course, there’s other descriptions on how it works and how you can do it, too. Apparently, cyanotype is the process by which blueprints were made – beware, I recall those blueprints to be a pungent, ammonia-instilled affair.

Purpose-built Glitch CD Player Build

I love the possibilities of glitch in art and music. I think it’s the technomancer’s version of free jazz – the courting of randomness as almost a musical device in itself. Dmitry Morozov, by way of, has built a rather fantastic device that allows fine grain control of a CD player well beyond what we have easily available.

While the build itself is rather gorgeous and the video on the project page is tantalizing in terms of the possibilities of the machine, I really which this device could fall into the hands of some musicians so we can see what this really could do.

Please some musician out there reach out to Dimitry to borrow his CD glitch machine to put it to some use!