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Reese Inman - Algorithmic pointillist

By Rhizome

Reese Inman

Stringlattice (detail) & Matrix (detail)

Reese Inman uses computer algorithms to provide a map or blueprint for the construction of her paintings. Like a freeze frame from Conway's Game of Life, and intricate mappings of other rare Cellular Automata, her paintings shimmer with pixillated light. From afar its is possible to imagine the final output has been made by a machine alone, but each individual element or pixel is hand painted providing a nice comment, as she mentions on her site, on the fragile imperfection of the repetitive human hand versus the endlessly robotic computations of the machine.

The works rely on a structure of individual units, bits of data, acting in unison to create an effect at a higher level. They make me think of Hofstadter's chapter in GEB on 'levels of description' where he talks about 'nearly decomposable systems' where objects have a private identity but also contribute on a social level. In itself each pixel on a painting is just a flat colour, but looking at a painting as a whole, such as Matrix VI, we find effects of light, the movement pixels, and its hard not to imagine the next frames in an animated sequence.

Historically this work connects with the group of artists collectively known as the Algorists who used 'detailed recipes for execution of an artwork' and further back to Sol Lewitt's instructional and rule-based modular art. There are also obvious ties to more recent Generative art as well as the Op Art movement of the 1960s.

For more human computers see:

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