6 minute read.

Poetry in Code. 7 unique artists of the digital age.

Paul Anthony / June 13, 2010

Posted in: Archive

Ever since I can remember, I have always had a fascination with the relationship between code, and art. More recently, I’ve been inspired by both vector and motion art combined with code producing some truly remarkable pieces of computer generated art. Here’s a collection of some cg artwork, code and visualisations from software artists that I truly admire – with a bit of a background around their inspirational pieces.

Robert Hodgin

URL: http://roberthodgin.com

Robert Hodgin lives in San Francisco, having started experimenting in Flash (and actionscript), Robert is now working with C++, and the Cinder library to generate some of his work, which ranges from simple 2D data visualizations to immersive 3D terrain simulations.

Robert’s portfolio can be found here, and explores some extremely interesting concepts. Some of my favourite experiments and projects can be found below

Scott Draves

URL: http://scottdraves.com/

Scott Draves a.k.a. Spot is a visual and software artist living in New York. Some of Scott’s work has famously made its way into the halls of Google’s corporate headquarters, and he has exhibited motion and performance pieces around the globe.

Some of his best known work includes ‘Electric Sheep’ a collaborative, open source project which creates morphing abstract animations and fractal flames known as “sheep”. Cycles from sleeping processors around the web are used to create what Draves describes as a collective “android dream”, a homage to Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Another must see piece of work from the software artist is ‘Dreams in High Fidelity’ a high definition piece that repurposes some of the digital ‘sheep’ generated over decades of collaborative processing – an creates a masterpiece that simply wouldn’t be possible without the web. Great artwork should be shared and enjoyed by others, and luckily for us you are able to download the full 2.2GB of awesomeness for playback / projection.

Amy Alexander

URL: http://cyberspaceland.org/

Having worked in film, video, and digital media, Amy’s work focuses largely on popular culture and has been presented on the Internet, in clubs,  the street as well as in festivals and museums. She is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. With a background in music and IT as well as in visual media, her work encompasses live visual performance, public art, and critique of software and its relationship to contemporary culture and politics.

Ben Fry

URL: http://benfry.com/

Ben’s awe inspiring work has cross into many different fields, including Computer Science, Statistics, Graphic Design and Visualisation. Having obtained a doctorate in Aesthetics and Computation at Massichuettes Institute of Technology, he completed his thesis on the visualization of genetic data, and finished the book on Visualising Data for O’Reilly. He is also well known for his working on ‘Processing.js‘ a javascript library for visualising data which I’ve previously mentioned as being used in a variety of javascript experiments.

Valence is a set of software sketches about building representations that explore the structures and relationships inside very large sets of information.

Memo Akten

URL: http://www.memo.tv/

Memo’swork focuses on creating emotional and memorable experiences. He designs and develops tools to explore new forms of interaction, and pursue natural approaches to artistic expression via the digital domain. His work ranges from large-scale interactive installations and performances to online works and mobile applications.

He has received recent publicity for his work at MSAV (Mega Super Awesome Visuals) – where he has created art pieces such as Imogen Heap’s Twitdress. Lots of his experiments are a perfect synergy between art and code, and reflect both creative genius and coding prowess. You only have to see some of his motion work at Vimeo to get the WOW factor.

Featured here, “Reincarnation” is an off-shoot from a visual performance for the Rambert Dance Company’s “Iatrogenesis”. Inspired by Footage of the Rambert dancers, Memo wrote custom software to track the motion and generate the visualisation seen below. Coupled with an appropriate sound overlay the results are stunning.

As part of Memo’s contribution to the open source world, he has produced MSAFluid – a library for solving real-time fluid dynamics simulations based on Navier-Stokes equations and Jos Stam’s paper on Real-Time Fluid Dynamics for Games. It is primarily for use with the processing library developed by Ben Fry, but also works independent of it.

The video below is a demo of a processing sketch using MSAFluid, being controlled by MSA Remote on iPhone. Memo of late has been working on a number of mobile related projects, of which this is one.

Julius Popp

URL: http://sphericalrobots.org/

Julius Popp is a German software artist who’s work often uses technology and programming to reach across the boundaries of art and science. One of his more famous pieces Bit.fall is a a waterfall which can write letters using water droplets. Words are extracted from internet news, according to preconceived statistical rules, with the words with most meaning and relevance used to reflect the current ‘cultural state’.  This symbolism intrinsically shows how fragile the meme’s which are important to us are, in a visual way.


URL: http://troika.uk.com/

Troika is a multi-disciplinary art and design practice based in London. Their talents merge across a variety of different disciplines including graphic communication, art, design and engineering producing some awe inspiring work. Whilst not purely software artists, they have created a variety of installations which cross over into this subset.

One of my favourite pieces is the recent work commisioned by British Airways. ‘Cloud’ is a 5 metre long digital sculpture, suspended above the entrance to terminal 5 at Heathrow. Using ‘flip dots’, solenoid driven discs which rotate between two active states,  Cloud can be controlled via a computer program to produce a variety of patterns and shapes.

There really is some stunning work going on in the field of generative art, and we are sure to see even more interesting projects emerge that tie together the technology changes that are happening on the web, with visual representations of it. If you’ve any links to share to your own favourite pieces, feel free to share in the comments.

Some other links if you want to fall down the rabbit hole a bit further:



http://openprocessing.org – Good collection of digital artists using code to create artwork.

  • 3d
  • art
  • artists
  • code
  • motion
  • poetry
  • vimeo

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