Time Art

A theme running through my artworks and art musings in the past few years (and one touched on in my last post on the stock market) is the concept of art through time. I like to think about the creative process through time.

There are many methods for capturing this process. One is to record the process and play it back. I have briefly experimented with this medium with a quick sketch that I posted on youtube. It was only a half-hour doodle with oil pastels, but I did quite like the result:

Thinking about art in this way brings up the question about whether it is the product or the process that is the artwork. As consumers of art, we typically don’t have access to the process, so our choice is made for us. Given the chance, would we prefer watching the process versus the product, or at least having the process as a reference? Some argue that this reduces the mystery and magnificence of a piece of art, but I think that understanding how something was made will prompt one to be more creative because it is more accessible. The steps are transparent. I know that I surely used to like the show How it’s made when I was young, maybe that’s why I’m obsessed.

Others have explored this video taping method a little more in depth. For example, artists Supakitch and Koraline make a film that follows the typical film language patterns.

This video breaks the process down into the most crucial parts and develops a narrative through camera work, music, and visual progression of the art piece. This is interesting from the viewers perspective because one is curious how the painting is going to develop and also intrigued and pacified by the nice camera work and music.

Digital drawing programs are beginning to offer playback modes. Perhaps more interesting are online communities forming that allow collaboration and feature playback. Examples of these sites are 2Draw.Net and RateMyDrawing.Com. These sites have developed a whole community in which a master and apprentice relationship develops between collaborating artists. The observer has access to the temporal progression of visual and conceptual data through the drawing and corresponding forum. This is probably a good topic to explore in a post of its own. I have done some preliminary studies and interviews with these individuals inquiring about their collaborative practices.

Finally, artists are able to use screen capture software to record their digital strokes and play them back. However, out of all of these different time art techniques, none have been designed for that specific purpose. No one is yet to realize the significance of allowing access to the creative process as both an art piece and a media for creating art in itself. There is an interesting recursion that will crop up once creative process visualizations are manipulated as an artistic medium in itself.

I have been thinking about and designing (mostly conceptually)  programs that help the user to visualize their creative process. By offering visualizations and opportunities to manipulate and play with the a representation of the creative process, I really think people could learn a lot, not to mention have a lot of fun!

Here is a first step at an interactive artwork that incorporates this element of time art.

In this piece, the user is able to see a picture of a painting at different stages in the creative process. I am happy to say that the basic functionality is in place. Now comes the time to think about additional functions and aesthetic considerations.

Typically, I am avid idea generator. At the conceptual level I’m a system designing machine, and I come up with an invention a day, complete with sketches, defined interaction, context of use, and the whole nine yards. Yet implementation seems a bit far because I am more on the artistic side. I know the programming, but it requires discipline and a significant amount of time to really bring art and programming together. I think interactive art is the perfect breeding ground to develop this skill, and look forward to really pushing myself in this direction.

If you are interested in interactive art. You should check out processing, which is the language that program was built in. The Creativity and Cognition Studios in Australia has also done some very interesting studies on interactive artworks which you may find interesting. They explore how the audience experience changes through time and have developed methodologies to describe different phases of interacting with artworks.

As far as the Time Art that I showed above, I have several different ideas about how to proceed. I am actually documenting my progress on this blog as another means of recording the process, so that I may have yet another trace explaining the process. My aim is ultimately to tie together these different ways of thinking about and acting on creative ideas into common media in which their interconnection can be drawn.

In the Time Art piece, I am thinking about having a tree like structure develop from each of the smaller circles. I am also going to have each of the smaller circles have a thumbnail of the picture, but that requires 22 iterations of Photoshop, so that is another step in itself. Stay tuned for more developments! Let me know if you have any suggestions on where you would like to see this go. This blog could be another form of asynchronous interactive artwork. What you say will influence how the design develops.

For tonight, I am happy to have the function nailed down and in a presentable state. Tomorrow, I will be attending Marc Downie’s workshop on a new programming language called Field. The philosophy of that language is to provide a completely flexible programming environment for creating digital art. It is an interesting combination of visual and text based programming. I look forward to the activity tomorrow. For more information on Marc or Field, check out his OpenEnded Group.

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