A Paradigm of Things

A Paradigm of Things exhibited at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork city, Ireland, October 2013. This collection of digital art was a collaborative effort between Paul Walsh, Prasad Gade, and James O’Sullivan.

A Paradigm of Things

Digital art is without limits, yet its boundaries remain mathematically defined. It is sublime: infinite yet logically structured with absolute precision. Technology continues to influence artistic practices, remediating traditional values through contemporary visions.

A Paradigm of Things exhibits such a marriage, core artistic values being juxtaposed with computational aesthetics and graphic design. From complex aesthetic measures, to handcrafted imagery composed on everyday devices, this collection deconstructs the false dichotomy between the old and the new, the trivial and the algorithmic.

Embracing technological ubiquity, mathematics and traditional aesthetic values, A Paradigm of Things presents a jarring collage of the contemporary condition. Elements of this collection were produced using generative algorithms, as well as common design tools and consumer electronics, such as tablets and smartphones. Thus, what you see presented are not simply works of art focused on the everyday, but the very products of such experience.

Viewers are invited to engage with the anamorphic nature of the works, and will hopefully appreciate that art is not simply traditional or innovative, but a combination of aesthetics that are simultaneously, as Raymond Williams posits, dominant, residual and emergent. It is a dialogue of aesthetics – a paradigm of things.

Evolutionary Art

Part of the images displayed in this exhibit are completely generated by computer software developed at Cork Institute of Technology.  The software uses fractal geometry to generate a myriad of natural looking forms. Fractal Geometry was invented by IBM researcher Benoit Mandelbrot: “Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line. Nature exhibits not simply a higher degree but an altogether different level of complexity.”

Fractals are repeating self similar patterns

Fractals are repeating self similar patterns

An example is shown in the above figure, where a self-similar pattern is repeatedly applied at smaller and smaller scales. This fractal technique generates a near infinite number of forms that we then filter out using machine learning techniques.