Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Software art

"Software art is empowering. Engaging. Endless. "

And in this case - unfree. As in - digital works of art for sale, at $100 a piece. Expensive? Well, the tag went down from $950. It is nice, and entertaining, and aesthetically pleasing. It irritates us, because it seems all-too-easy, when of course it is not. And then there's the way it works: the image is not only interactive, but in many cases it seems to have a life of its own. My absolute favorite of the lot is Floccus, by Golan Levin (actually, I can only speak about the free thumbnail version, as the revenue from my Google Ads hasn't crossed the $6 line yet).
At first, it seems chaotic and just faintly interesting. But if you stay on it for a while, you discover you can create entities which interact, and then influence their behavior. The graphics obey a set of rules and "try" to function accordingly.

These rules become the art. They are the essence of the experience and aesthetic direction. In traditional terms, the code represents paint or clay that the artist uses to create. It is molded, tweaked, massaged, layered until the artist is happy with the results of the executed code. The results, just as with all art, can vary drastically. The works can be simple. Complex. Abstract. Figurative. Narrative.
One of the most important distinctions is that software art is alive. It is not a video loop or static experience. It can be interactive, reactive or passive. It is typically generative, which means it can build upon itself or through your interaction.

This description is incredibly similar to that of many current perforiming art work methods: creating a set of rules you try to obey and build on. No wonder Floccus reminds me of a dance piece! Think some things by Xavier LeRoy, Teresa Von Keersmaker, or by the small but great British theater/performance group Third Angel.
I admit so far I prefer the (really) live thing. It seems - how should I put it - more intelligent. Then again, it might not be quite about the same things. In the case of software art, it seems to me like there is still a lot of room to manoeuvre - the works are interesting, but not breathtaking. Not yet? The gallerists who curated the work are enthusiastic:
It will be a standard art form in the 21st century. It's beauty and possibilities are too alluring. The artists are too talented. And the world deserves a new creative outlet.
I appreciate the enthusiasm. Makes one want to wait for more.
The works are available for thumbnail test-drives at software{ART}space
, with a statement here and the owner, the bitforms gallery, residing virtually here.
(via artnet)

(I have just discovered another, truly brilliant project by Golan Levin, called Messa di Voce)

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