This sketch emerged from reviewing chapter two of Generative Design, which focuses on working with shapes. I adapted one of the sketches to create an anxious grid, also incorporating interactivity through hue changing as the mouse moves over animation from left to right. The grid as a form has fascinated me for some time, including creation of a “drunk grid” in An Invitation. The grid is a form that represents order, or what Rosalind Krauss affiliates with modernism. It is the Apollian attempt to organise, though the Dionysian excess of life tends to defy these structures (to reference Nietzsche and The Birth of Tragedy). When life refuses these ordered structures, anxiety can emerge — anxiety as excess. These are my motivations for creating this anxious grid. I am also finding ways to makes sketches relative to screen size so they work well on large (horizontal) computer screens as well as small (vertical) mobile devices.
The inspiration for this sketch has come from a number of sources. I have recently reconnected with a cousin on my father’s side of the family, whom I have not spoken to in decades. I learned he is a musician and writer, and is in the process of writing a story where people are connected with tethers. It brought to mind a statement my daughter made not too long ago about my mother who lives in the US; we may be apart but we have these strings that connect us. I have also been re-reading Octavia Butler’s Patternist series. I wanted to create an image with different anxious bodies connected with tethers, but these tethers gather in a tangled mess. This sketch is another attempt of working with interactivity, as the knot moves in correlation with the mouse movements or taps on an iPad or mobile phone.
I have been reading Aesthetic Programming Winnie Soon and Geoff Cox and this sketch is inspired by the “thob” exercise in chapter three. They frame the exercise as a means of temperoral operations and computation: “We usually encounter the ubiquitous spinning icon while loading or streaming. It shows that a certain operation is in progress, but what exactly is happening, and how long this will take, is not at all clear. There is no indication of progress or status as is the case with a progress bar, for instance. We see the icon spinning, but it explains little about what goes on in the background or about timespan” (ch. 3, section 3: Infinite loops). When creating this sketch, I was trying to find a way to encapsulate time during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken on a different feel. Time is glitchy.
I am starting to engage with interactivity. Moving the mouse over the animation or touching the screen on an iPad or mobile phone moves the centre of the circles. The lattice forms to the right are generative, adapted from one of the python sketches I created for An Invitation. I am motivated by the idea of creating a sketch with the computer. The background alpha channel of the background has been decreased to create the after image effect.
This sketch marks another early attempt learning the syntax of p5.js. Like the previous sketch, I am working with vectors. The shapes began to take the form of abstracted butterflies made of stained glass, which I pushed further. I added the circles as ripples, but altered the hue to become more like a sunrise refracted in water.
This was one of the first sketches I made in p5.js. It is an adaptation of a sketch I created using python mode for Processing. I decided to switch to p5.js because the sketches are more web friendly, including the capacity to create sketches in a web editor. I also appreciate the ethos of p5.js community:
We are a community of, and in solidarity with, people from every gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, neuro-type, size, disability, class, religion, culture, subculture, political opinion, age, skill level, occupation, and background. We acknowledge that not everyone has the time, financial means, or capacity to actively participate, but we recognize and encourage involvement of all kinds. We facilitate and foster access and empowerment. We are all learners (p5js.org).
Processing is how I first became acquainted with coding and I love it’s capacity as a creative medium. I have created a number of projects incorporating Processing, but Emergent is my first explicit exploration of code and performance. This particular sketch does not utilise biometric data, which will come once I have a stronger sense of p5.js (An Invitation is my first project that incorporates animations with biometric data). I am playing with vectors here, based on Daniel Shiffman’s Nature of Code.
The body is the database of lived experience. Body-based performance art functions as a means of considering this “data,” drawing upon it through actions and gestures that investigate, play with, and share the accumulation of experience in flesh. How then can biometric data function as performance art? Emergent involves the production of generative animations that are produced using biometric data (such as heart rate and oxygen levels) and movement trackers as a means of conveying body-based performance. My intention is to engage with the memories of the flesh, as the data of the body is used as the impetus for aesthetic encounters.
As a performance artist working with digital media, I have long been interested in how technology opens up different means of engaging with performed actions. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted the production of performance art, which generally relies upon live and physically in-person presentations of work. While video and livestreaming have introduced possibilities for productions, these depend on cameras to capture and communicate action through moving image and sound. However, performance art encapsulates other sensory qualities of the body that do not always translate through lens-based media. These limits introduce creative challenges that invite new ways of producing performance art.
At the moment I am producing generative design sketches using p5.js, where code is my collaborator as I develop new means of tracing performance with digital tech. I am trying to create one a day, posting them on social media and on GitHub pages. Shifting away from lens-based media, such as video and photography, these works are the expressions and artifacts of performance. This is my sketchbook, where I present works in process(ing) and create an archive of the work as it develops.
This project is being produced with technical support from Gerald Glynn and financial support from an Arts Council Ireland Agility Award.