Flickering Existence is a multi-platform artwork that seeks to create an intimate experience between participants and a portraiture engine that generates portraits. The final portraits are collected into a book with personal annotations by the artist.
Each portrait is captured by a camera that acts as the ‘painter’s eyes’. An algorithm serves as the ‘painter’s brush’. Both work together to create an abstraction that emerges into a human form. The final state of the portrait is determined by me, the artist.
With these new computations tools, I hope to capture the specific moment, personality and emotion both of the subjects and me. The portrait’s generation involved music, movement, writing, posture and conversations throughout the process.
Flickering Existence explores the boundary between representation and abstraction. It challenges the composition and aesthetic methods of classic art, and translates them into new abstraction.
“Code is an interface between man and machine. Art is a bridge connecting insight and reality.
Code is logical. Art is emotional.
Coding art is the meeting place where the discipline takes strict, cold, logical processes and converts them into creating illogical, unpredictable and expressive results. I want to bring them together.”
I began my practice on algorithmic art and generative art in 2014. Generative art give me a new perspective of time-based art. In addition, coding art takes me to the journey of exploring the new aesthetics of digital art. I’m curious about the incongruity and harmony between the natural world and the manmade, separating creation in the organic and the mechanical. I’m fascinated by the codependent process of order and chaos, simplicity and complexity, the mechanical and the organic. Coding art drew me into the symbiotic and intertwined world.
Why portrait interests me?
Portraits memorialize a singular identity, freezing time and human characters. In the tradition of portraiture, a moment, a look is captured by the artist. I wish I could draw as them with the brushes. It leads me to explore if I could carry that tradition into the present, with new computational tools. I also wanted to see if I could create portraits with that same emotional content but with different tools.
My goal is not only to draw the appearance of the people, but also to capture the specific moment, personality and emotion of a person. The personality may be surfaced by the artist with music, conversation, posture and movement. With many of the portraits I took, I knew the people in advance, so that familiarity also becomes part of the portrait.
I build my generative drawing system by creating different algorithms in order to use them as drawing brushes. Each brush is a way to express my vision of the world, and a recreation of an influential masterpiece in a digital version.
Each portrait is captured by a camera that acts as the ‘painter’s eyes’. I created algorithms which serve as the ‘painter’s brush’. Both work together to create an abstraction that emerges into a human form.
I realized that a portraiture reveals a relationship between the painter and the sitter. They regard each other intensely. Portraiture always requires emotion and contemplation by both painters and sitters.
I invited more people to participate. More than 50 participants came and allowed me to take their portraits. I also invited four musicians to take part in the session. While they composed music, I drew on top of the screen. (click video) A webcam capture live feed of their performance. I captured the moment that they intensively focus on composing and immersed in that. The output is impacted by the music in terms of the depth of color, the size of the shape and the structure of the composition.
I appreciate and was surprised how people brought their personality and share their stories. The portraiture machine initiated a conversation, back to the face to face interaction between humans. Beyond the face, it created a connection between me and them.
I love their stories and the valuable moment, its Flickering Existence.
I invited people to my “Studio”. I made this installation setup to construct an atmosphere of “painter’s studio” or “art therapy”. The process gave me more than the results. I surprised that how people bring their personality automatically into my project.
I gave them four options to participants:
- Traditional Way: Sitting Still
- Musician’s Portrait: Play an instrument or pick up a song which represents you.
- Do a movement: I draw their contour and the trails of their movements.
- Write or Provide a Poem: Words will become the texture of their portraits.
I like both the silent moment that they contemplate themselves and the communication between us during the process.