“The Fisherman’s Approach”

Sometimes I consider myself a fisherman. Computer programs and ideas are the hooks, rods, and reels. Computer pictures are the trophies and delicious meals. A fisherman does not always know what the waters will yield… Often the specific catch is a surprise.
– Clifford Pickover, “Computers, Pattern, Chaos, and Beauty” (1990)

Noh and Airplanes

“Watching Noh is like looking at an airplane in the sky. It is slow and serene. But if you were up there with it there would be all this noise and black smoke.”

– David Neumann

Maintain a Firm Grasp of the Obvious

Wired’s interview this month with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is actually quite good, including two attitudes that I think could easily apply to studio practice and/or being an art student.

“Maintain a firm grasp of what’s obvious at all times”


“‘It’s all about the long term.’ If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that.  Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue… We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.”

Via: Wired, December 2011, pg 244

Painting, Sculpture, and Code

A nice description of software as art that will be perfect for my students:

There are two complementary images that we should consider before starting this chapter.  The first is how a painter of sculptor modifies a medium to create original structure from what was without form.  The second is how sound waves propagate through a medium to travel from one point to another.  Both images serve as metaphors for the motivation behind this and the next chapter.  As for the first image, just as a painter adds pigment to canvas and a sculptor bends and molds clay, so a programmer twiddles bits with silicon.  The second image relates to the way information within a computer is subject to the constraints of the environment in which it exists, namely, the computer itself.

The key word in both metaphors is “medium”, yet there is a subtle difference in each use of the word.  When a human programs a computer, quite often the underlying design of the program represents a mathematical process that is often creative and beautiful in its own right.  The fact that good programs are logical by necessity does not diminish the beauty at all.  In fact, the acts of blending colors, composing a fugue, and chiseling stone are all subject to their own logical rules, but since the result of these actions seems far removed from logic, it is easy to forget that the rules are really in place.  Nevertheless, I would like you to consider the computer as a medium of expression just as you would canvas or clay.

From “The Computational Beauty of Nature” by Gary William Flake, pg 11.