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In This Newsletter...

Rediscovering My Medium

  • Processing
  • Frames & Windows: A Computer Art Triptych

Other News

  • Louis Riel
  • The Station Gallery's Annual Fundraiser -- ASO!

The Bosco Project

  • The Latest Bosco Pic: Bosco Sulking

Rediscovering My Medium


I feel like I have (re-)discovered the right tool to create my computer art, a programming language called processing that allows me to create my art the way I work best: as a process that is intuitive, playful, and often surprisingly indeterminate.

Processing is a computer language that was expressly developed to create computer art, specifically generative art, an artform for which the computer is ideally suited. I feel like a kid again creating freely with finger paints, rediscovering the impulses that led me to want to spend my life pursuing computer art/visual music/abstract animation, but from which I got sidetracked by entering the entertainment field to earn a living. A few people, including cybernetic artist Jessica Field, told me about this language; unfortunately I didn't take them seriously because, after all, I'm using high-end professional applications every day, and surely those will suit my needs, won't they? Well, no, they won't, at least not easily with the way I like to work. So too bad, I could have been producing my art for years and been further along.

But oh the joy of creative coding! Just as Picasso could draw a single line that would suggest how to evolve a composition, or Liszt used improvisation to develop his compositions, so I feel the same creative thrill of discovery when a line of code creates something that suggests how it should develop into a finished composition. Which leads me to...

Windows & Frames: A Computer Art Triptych

My first experiments with processing led very quickly and organically to the creation of my first piece using my new medium: Green Frames, Red Windows. Learning the peculiarites of the language gave me some ideas to explore that led to the finished piece. Exploiting processing's quick feedback loop I was able to run many tests that kept stoking the heat of creative play, eventually leading to the final, aesthetically satisfying creation. Using the same basic algorithms I had an inspiration to make a few variations that led to the creation of two more pieces, culminating in the creation of a structurally unified triptych.

Windows & Frames Triptych

These are my first finished pieces created with this language, which I started playing with in my limited spare time only a few days ago. Together these pieces comprise a triptych I call Windows & Frames. Each piece uses the same underlying strategy, which is revealed at the end. These pieces are an example of what I mean when I use the term "computer art": art that works with the computer, wherein a piece evolves organically from the algorithmic nature of the medium. In the case of this triptych a few simple algorithms give the pieces their structural unity, individually and together.

The Windows & Frames Triptych has no sound. These are pieces to be approached as abstract paintings in motion: meditatively, even with an attitude of communion. These are not pieces that can be understood and appreciated on a small screen in five distracted seconds -- they require a larger canvas and a commitment of time to enter their silent colorful rhythms. Each piece must allowed to unfold in its own time, because these pieces are about the journey, not the destination. They are, indeed, a visual equivalent of music, meaning that it uses coherently structured visuals (instead of sound) in a coherently structured use of time -- indeed, they are inseparable. In these pieces the computer's inherent nature as an algorithmic medium creates the visual and temporal rhythms within its own rigorous overarching structure (revealed at the end of each piece, identical for all three).

I plan on using processing to fulfill the commission discussed in my last newsletter, because now I feel like I have finally found the tool that allows me to code with a freedom of creative invention that I hadn't felt since my initial forays into programming over 40 years ago. I'm very excited about where my creative explorations will lead!

Other News

Louis Riel

I'll be celebrating the sesquicentennial of my adopted country by appearing onstage for each performance of the Canadian Opera Company's production of Louis Riel, composed by Canadian Harry Somers. This delights me because I had wanted to see the opera, but now it's even better because I get to be in it!

I was a last minute call-up when one of their supernumeraries had to leave the production. (A supernumerary is the high-falutin' name of an extra in an opera.) I got the call because I fit the shirt. Well, that was the ostensible reason. I suspect I also got a call because the times I've been a super in the past went very well. (It was said the group of us five supers in their 2013 production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor was the best group of supers they ever had.)

Warning: This is not your typical opera! (Whatever that may mean...) The music may be difficult for most audiences, but if you can get past the surface cacophony it is beautiful, expressionistic, and even made accessible by Maestro Johannes Debus, who understands the music and conducts with both precision and passion. The story itself is actually profound: a deep and complex (and even timeless) history lesson about the confluence of politics, colonialism, racism, religion, and psychology, masterfully directed by the great director Peter Hinton. This is opera very seria!

There's so much more to say about this magnificent production, but I must give a special mention to Russel Braun, the baritone in the titular role. I am convinced that he must be one of the greatest opera singers of our generation, if not any generation. He not only has a beautiful and commanding voice, it is a carrier for pure and genuine emotion. That's because he is that rare singer who is also a brilliant actor, with a magically compelling presence on stage. I don't know any other vocalist who sends chills up my spine the way he does. He really is a vessel of authenticity, conveying truth as only the greatest artists can. One can be convinced that he is actually channeling Louis Riel. Such a combination of technical prowess delivered with such empathetic passion must elevate Mr. Braun to the top ranks of opera's greatest singers.

This production is turning into an event of national interest (as the links below attest)... And it's a masterpiece. It is what is meant when the overused phrase 'great art' is used as it's meant to be used: to signify a work of rare authenticity that communicates an existential truth. It is most regrettable that this production is not being professionally filmed for posterity and wider public exposure and preserved on disc.

I may be only a super, but I'm proud and honoured to be able to contribute to this historic production. Opening night is tomorrow (April 20, 2017), and there are only seven performances, which, when I talked to the box office yesterday, I learned are already almost completely sold out -- which they claim is unprecedented for a production that hasn't even opened and been reviewed yet. If you have the opportunity please make the effort to attend this incredible and unique opera, a genuine Canadian modernist masterpiece.

To learn more about this opera and its current production check out these articles: NY Times, Globe and Mail, plus here, and here.

Here is the COC's promo video of the production.

The Station Gallery's Annual Fundraiser -- ASO!

I've donated a framed, unlimited edition photograph (below) to the Station Gallery for their annual Drawing for Art fundraiser.

Whitby: Rotary Park
(Reminder: I do not photoshop my pictures.)

I was going to suggest getting in on the fun and excitement of this worthy event to support our local gallery by buying a ticket, but it seems that it's Sold Out!
The Bosco Project
The latest Bosco picture.
Bosco Sulking
Thank you for reading. Hope to hear from you soon.
Copyright © 2017 Aleksi Moriarty, All rights reserved.