Installation entrance

Installation view

Installation view


Algorithmic Visualizations
Philbrook Museum of Art | Tulsa, Oklahoma
December 19, 2004-January 16, 2005

"Algorithmic Visualizations" refers to the process by which the exhibition images have been created through mathematical procedures written in computer programming code. An algorithm is a step-by-step operation, following a predefined set of rules that usually is activated repeatedly building on values that get calculated at each step. This manner of artistic creation has been a longstanding practice in electronic music composition, and even though there was a flurry of experimentations in the 1960's, the approach has only recently been re-examined in the visual fine arts. "Algorithmic Visualizations" is a continuation of a series of experimentations begun by the artist in the mid 1980's to produce images that were created purely through computer programming language, a novel approach but nonetheless following a tradition of mechanically generated images such as photography and cinema begun in the 19th century. Legrady's search in bridging computer generated processes with photography at a time when technologies for producing digital images were not readily available, led him to surveillance and satellite image processing computer code literature, which resulted in experimentations with mathematic processes such as frequency modulations, 2D convolutions, randomness and noise. These approaches had potential metaphorical values in particular through the programming of randomness and visual noise. The process of the artist writing computer code which generates an image raises interesting questions of authorship, complicating the question of where the artistic voice occurs: in the writing of the computer code, or in the expression of the code when the image is generated.

Prototypes of abstract, geometric generated images have appeared in many forms since Antiquities. The sculptor George Rickey remarks in his book "Constructivism" that notable examples include architectural elements such as Roman bath floors, Islamic lattices, Celtic interlaces, and highly complex, extraordinary artifacts such as pottery, rugs and baskets produced by indigenous cultures worldwide. The mathematician Stephen Wolfram observes that repetitive and nested patterns used to generate ancient abstract images were attempts to see if simple abstract rules could represent the behavior of natural systems. There is today an academic field of study named "ethnomathematics", that has developed in the past twenty years to study the relationships between mathematics and indigenous cultures that have integrated this approach into their way of conceptualizing and expression. A premise of ethnomathematics is that mathematical expressions have come out of cultural activities, for instance, navigation, agriculture, calendar marking, religion, healing symbols, and visually expressed in the production of shelter and tools such as houses, rugs, and baskets. The process of weaving a basket, or rug is very similar to the creation of a computer image by computer code, where the color values of pixels are calculated line-by-line with the difference that whereas the basket and rug are made by hand, the digital image is woven by a potentially magic thread: the executable computer language. With this relationship of the analog and the digital in mind, the exhibition features a selection of indigenous handmade baskets from its Clark Field Collection, based on complex, repetitive patterning. The artist's intent is to highlight the aesthetic similarities, between the indigenous artifact and the digitally produced image and thereby enable a cultural bridge between the two.

The exhibition consists of computer generated still images, realtime digital animations, and Native American baskets from the Clark Field Collection at the Philbrook Museum of Art.