duluth quantum computing project

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reading list


artist @ work


Drawing happens in space & time ::: a line ::: an arc driven through coordinates over time. Ink spills across the page ::: scrawls ::: etchings ::: tension & flow. Sinew : graphite : ink : pigment : resin : sound.

There is a velocity to the hand ::: a weight. The friction of charcoal across paper ::: chalk across slate. The drawing surface ::: marks.

Electrical impulses over copper ::: light streaming through glass cable ::: data torrents flood our senses. Tireless, intersecting, infinite lines trace twisted winding stories across the globe.

Filtered lines.

This velocity ::: these currents can be harnessed ::: milled ::: transformed into sound, color, movement. Data streams carry an emergent pulse & meter. Photochemical effect ::: "some substances are visibly altered by exposure to light". Daguerreotype ::: polished metal : mercury vapors : light. Salt paper ::: silver nitrate ::: exposed silhouettes against the sky.

We can use streaming data as a lightning force ::: caught by our digital kite. This river can become the animator ::: the φῶς (phos), (genitive: phōtós) meaning "light", and γραφή (graphê), meaning "drawing, writing".

A drawing has an intrinsic calculation ::: a curve ::: a line between points ::: a geometry ::: a movement through time. These can be translated to a coded context by exposing calculation : defining the calculus : the geometry. There are many libraries people use in the context of the web to "draw." These include the immensely popular javascript-based p5.js.

Statistics, data and the arts join to form a field called data science. The fusion of data and art can result in beautiful works dense with meaning. One of my favorite javascript libraries for doing this work is d3.js.

Drawing on the web relies heavily on two technologies available in HTML5 land. These are Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and Canvas. The libraries I mentioned above are written on top of these core elements of HTML5 ::: they provide syntactic sugar to abstract away the details of coding directly with svg & canvas. I personally like the raw materials & often avoid libraries for this reason.

SVG and HTML5 canvas are derived from very different paradigms. SVG Is vector-based and canvas works by manipulating pixels. SVG is an XML dialect. It has a Document Object Model (DOM) interface. What this means in practice is that all parts of a vector drawing marked up with SVG syntax can be directly "grabbed." Every line element, point element, shape element, path element, text element, group of elements etc. can be engaged with individually. They can be created, updated, styled, animated, deleted.

Using HTML5 canvas feels more like drawing with Etch A Sketch. It is drawing onto a raster landscape. Each mark becomes part of the total drawing : to change a stroke you must erase a portion of the canvas & start over.

I love the artwork of Agnes Martin. From a distance you often see a subtle grid. As you approach there is a slight shimmer. The grid dissolves like a road's white line on a hot & humid day. In the midst of the geometric landscape her hand emerges. A human mark is clear. Approach the canvas and you see the deviations from the grid. She uses algorithmic methods & she resists them.

A sine wave creates a pure frequency : a constant pitch or light. Bow acros string, breath across reed creates an imperfect pitch that bends and frays. A contour resists an imagined grid ::: a deviance ::: a yaw.

This fray, bend, deviance of line and pitch is central to the aura of a work of art. In this age of this mechanical, digital reproduction : the act of drawing takes on deviance only through engaging with the ingredient of chance or by feeding on a "dirty" source : a ragged stream. A computer can draw a line perfectly from point A to point B. It is more difficult to create the imperfect line : the wobble. Yet it is the deviance from perfection that creates the friction and strangeness : the fragility of line that mirrors our humanity.

Randomness, departures, deviation, variance. An algorithm infused by chance can create whole worlds (no man's sky) and can generate galaxies : (datamatics : the infinite between 0 and 1).

topic list