Archives for the Month of December, 2005

Casey Reas – Swarm

Swarm Process 6 – Casey Reas

After my last entry on the nebulous architectural drawings of Julie Mehretu I came across a post on Resarch alerting us to an exhibition currently running at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, US, featuring Julie’s work among others.

Swarm brings together works that express swarming as a social effect generated by masses of objects, images, data, or organisms. The fascination with swarming reflects a contemporary view of nature, politics, and social life–one that favours unplanned and decentralized modes of organization.’

Other notables showing at Swarm include C.E.B. Reas, generative heavyweight and co-developer of Proce55ing, and Jason Salavon whose abstract data visualisations are featured in the show.

Julie Mehretu – Psychogeographic paintings

Babel Unleased – Julie Mehretu

Check out the complex layered schematics of Julie Mehretu’s drawings – there are references to architecture, calligraphy and her personal imaginary future-past landscapes. The results are detailed amorphous and energetic diagrams sometimes recalling visualisations of networked digital environments and the architecture of inner/cyber/hyperscapes.

From Metascape, a group exhibtion that featured visionary and real topographic explorations at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Summer 2003, comes this:

‘Julie Mehretu tackles the infrastructure of the constructed world, imploding and exploding fragments of the real and imagined into a frenzied maelstrom of information.

Mehretu refers to these vortexes of energy as “psychogeographic paintings”.

Also see Layering Chaos.

‘Arithmetic! Algebra! Geometry!’

Comte de Lautreamont

‘Arithmetic! Algebra! Geometry! Awe-inspiring trinity! Luminous triangle! He who has not known you is a fool! He would deserve the ordeal of the greatest of tortures; for there is blind disdain in his ignorant indifference; but he who knows you and appreciates you no longer wants the goods of the earth and is satisfied with your magical delights; and, borne on your sombre wings, wishes only to rise in effortless flight, constructing as he does a rising spiral, towards the spherical gate of the heavens. Earth only offers him illusions and moral phantasmagoria, but you, concise mathematics, by the rigorous sequence of your unshakable propositions and the consistency of your iron rules, give to the dazzled eye a powerful reflection of that supreme truth whose imprint can be seen in the order of the universe. But the order surrounding you, represented by the perfect regularity of the square, Pythagoras’ friend, is greater still; for the Almighty has revealed himself and his attributes completely in this memorable work, which consisted in bringing from the bowels of chaos the treasure of your theorems and your magnificent splendours. In ancient epochs and in modern times more than one man of great imagination has been awestruck by the contemplation of your symbolic figures traced on paper, like so many mysterious signs, living and breathing in hidden ways not understood by profane multitudes; these signs were only the glittering revelations of eternal axioms and hieroglyphs which existed before the universe and will remain after the universe has passed away…..’

From Maldoror by Lautréamont, an old favourite. Lautréamont was unknown during his short life and little is known of him. Maldoror is a revelatory stream of intense prose telling tales of eroticism, sadomasochism, blasphemy, obscenity, putrefication and mathematics all in a wonderfully poetic manner. The Surrealists later adopted him as a precursor of their movement. Lautréamont did not see his Maldoror available to the public during his lifetime and died November 24, 1870 in a Paris hotel room at the age of 24.

Exotic Geometries 1 : Paper Tessellations and Spidrons.

Origami Tesselation – Eric Gjerde

The always interesting Occultdesign brings our attention to some intricate generative things being done with paper over at Origamitesselations. The site is maintained by one Ori-gomi, also known as Eric Gjerde who hails from Minneapolis, USA. The site contains PDF’s of patterns and lots of open source technical know-how; in fact the site was born out of Eric’s frustration with the lack of free information circulating within the origami communities. In much the same way as Marius has pointed out the obvious logical connection between knitting and generative art, I’d also like to posit the inclusion of Origami Sekkei (‘technical paper folding’) as a kind of generative folk-craft. Simple repetitive rulsets for folding the paper give rise to complex self-organising structures and geometric tessellations. The results are quite stunning, and with names like Deltoidal Trihexagonal Tiling & Quasiregular Rhombic Tiling you know you’re in the right district of town!

It turns out there is quite a hardcore of enthusiasts involved in Origami Sekkei as noted from the outbound links and posts at Origamitesselations. One particular outbound destination of great interest to me is the software page of PaperMosaics. On it you can download a free software application called ‘Tess’ whose job it is to render tweakable geometric crease patterns ready for folding. It’s a fun piece of software to play with even if you’re not interested in origami (but hold on, why shouldn’t you be?). Andy’s Tesselation page gives a good overview of the myriad species of technical paper folding, and yes folks there are some beautiful recursive structures to be had, as well as Twist Octagons and patterns taken from Islamic tilings notably a design from the Alhambra in Andalusia, Spain.

Dániel Erdél’s Spidron System contains renderings of complex paper folds utilising units known as Spidrons.

‘The Spidron is a planar figure consisting of two alternating sequences of isosceles triangles which, once it is folded along the edges, exhibits extraordinary spatial properties. The Spidron can be used to construct various space-filling polyhedra and reliefs, while its deformations render it suitable for the construction of finely adjustable dynamic structures.’

The results are exquisite structures – often employing the fractal nature of the Spidron to make ‘impossible to craft’ space filing structures. Familiar forms greet our imagination, complex seed like forms crop up and our old friends the Radiolarians seem to be invoked.



Tony Scott, Dimtre Lima, and Iman Morandi allow us to reconstruct the image contents of browserspace with their recently released Glitchbrowser. Glitchbrowser returns all images on a site with aberrated versions. Lovely discolourations, dislocations, pixellations and colour bands infect the original image and in invariably beautify content through this intentional corruption.

A little histories….

‘Although glitch seems a word that people would always have found useful, it is first recorded in English in 1962 in the writing of John Glenn: “Another term we adopted to describe some of our problems was ‘glitch.’ ” Glenn then gives the technical sense of the word the astronauts had adopted: “Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical current.” It is easy to see why the astronauts, who were engaged in a highly technical endeavour, might have generalized a term from electronics to cover other technical problems. Since then glitch has passed beyond technical use and now covers a wide variety of malfunctions and mishaps.’ Via

‘The word glitch comes from the German glitschen, that means ‘to slip’. Considered as a very short fault, the term is used in the computing and electronics industries, as well as in video games, and circuit bending. Exploiting electronics glitches has been very current in the musical world.’ Via this review

The true thrill of a real time digital glitch is that is not often easy to reproduce and quite often unique – an unexpected post card from the edge of an hour of lost work depending your position. In any case these visual malfunctions are a far more rewarding landscape than the blue, red or black or indeed yellow screens of death landscapes.