In the past six months, I've had ample time to reflect and contemplate whether Generative Art truly qualifies as a form of artistic expression where the artist conveys and communicates a message. When an artist picks up a brush (pencil, crayon), they are limited only by imagination and talent. Direct contact with the surface gives limitless possibilities for expressing feelings. It is possible to feel the excitement and immediately splash it on the canvas. But what happens when you're just writing code? Where is the place for expression? A generative artist’s toolbox is limited. And what we can express with code is limited as well. We can only interact with the viewer on a level of abstraction and emotion. We cannot create a situation, a hint, an irony, or a multi-level drama. The second question is, what exactly should evoke emotion in the so-called long-form generative art? Each iteration? Or the possibilities of the algorithm as a whole? How does creating an algorithm that produces a large amount of art not dilute the idea itself? Especially by following market and platforms rules and making rare "features." Such a large number of restrictions suggests a quick crisis of the genre and its complete transformation. But this situation is also a severe challenge to the artist.
For a long time, I found myself without the moral and physical strength to approach something that had been such a big part of my life and nearly ruined it. I couldn't comprehend what I had to offer the world. My mind went blank as a defensive reaction to my creativity's cruel trick, and I paid the price. However, I eventually realized I could express my emotions through art.
Over the past two years, I have been overwhelmed by constant "overload." It's challenging to articulate, but I'll do my best. In 2021, I worked up to 16 hours daily, creating all my projects from scratch. Apart from my art, I developed websites for my projects, maintained social networks, attempted to respond to all DMs, and communicated in real-time with other artists, collectors, platform owners, and those seeking to involve me in different projects, despite being an introvert who never sought to communicate and had never been on social media. I was trying to comprehend and determine what to do with the cryptocurrency money that had come my way in a world without regulation where 99% consider cryptocurrency a scam.
However, in the "real world," everyone I knew began to view me as someone who had won the lottery. I had to convince the IRS, banks, and intelligence services, who knew nothing about NFTs or Generative Art, that everything I did was honest and legal. I found myself telling the same story hundreds of times to different people. At the same time, collectors wrote to me and expect preferential treatment, asked odd questions, made strange suggestions, got offended, and even insulted me. People who knew nothing about me wished me ill because I was "lucky" and had made money.
Despite all this, I convinced myself that it was merely a side effect of success and that I could handle it. I was content, doing what I loved most in the world, earning a living from it, and living my life to the fullest. Then the Latvian police took everything away from me without any explanation. The Latvian Tax Office then made me one of the biggest debtors in the country. All banks rejected me. When I tried to draw attention to this, most people assumed I was a 100% scammer and an idiot for paying taxes, etc.
Throughout all this, I continued to work, design my website, give interviews, undergo interrogations, interact with my lawyer, and plan for an exhibition. All of these efforts were happening simultaneously, and none of them seemed to produce the desired outcomes. Consequently, my mental and physical health suffered greatly. At the same time, I felt that despite different situations, many people think the same way now. We live in an era of information garbage and constant pressure. And it is not in our nature to have the strength to cope with it. So I decided to reflect this in my new project.
From simple to complex
I’ve wanted to work with patterns for a long time. If you think about visualizing overload, you're likely to think of many completely different elements overlapping each other and creating a sense of chaos. For this to become a concept, you must keep that feeling but restrict it to certain limits. So I started experimenting with different variations. My original idea was to layer patterns on top of each other and then layer elements with various patterns.
The variations were exciting but seemed secondary, and I felt there needed to be a central concept. And most of the variations with different patterns were far beyond the boundaries of aesthetic perception. Then I decided to take a couple of patterns that best fit together and focus on them. The idea of making a complex out of primitive shapes emerged. A triangle and a square. That's it. Placing a triangle on a grid can result in numerous variations. Here are some of them.
And that's not all the variations. I used five grid sizes in multiples of four. A triangle was inscribed in each cell. Another grid was superimposed on top of one, partially overlapping it and creating new patterns.
The second piece was the square because it is a part of the grid. It had less variation, but it balanced the overall picture perfectly. To increase the variation, I used different sizes of squares and distinct alternations of painted fields.
Since I only used a right triangle and a square, it is natural that only two angles - 90 and 45 degrees - can be used in this "universe." So I decided to make shapes containing my patterns using only these angles.
My goal was to create an "overloaded" image but to leave room for harmony, to preserve the concept, and not to descend into chaos. One of the elements that became an ordering factor was the lines, which changed their direction only at certain angles. This was the first step towards the final result.
The second such element was the frame, which I invented. Many artists create an artificial frame for their work. The frame is what we are used to seeing in traditional art. It immediately triggers a response in our mind, "This is a work of art." The frame allows us to achieve a certain balance immediately. In the case of OVERLOAD, a kind of "trace" performs this function, as if the image were "pulled down to the center," leaving a trace. I used this "frame" on every layer.
Having achieved balance and diversity, I began to overload the image visually. To do this, I created many internal features for the patterns. At each iteration, I set different strokes, fills, line thickness, transparency, gradients, etc. This leads to an endless variety of results, especially when the patterns are layered on top of each other.
A good solution for overload was to try to achieve a pseudo-volume that should confuse the observer. I used glitch effects and "shadows" at different angles to achieve this.
The line system has also become noticeably more complex, with many variations in color, thickness, shadows, connecting elements, and features that add volume. The lines in my concept represent how information is communicated, with specific components emphasizing and amplifying the central storyline that demands our concentration.
The central theme of my art is the overload of digital information, which is what we constantly consume from our screens. To reflect this in my art, I used a texture similar to the pixel grid of a monitor. It also creates the effect of overloading.
Furthermore, I incorporated a grid of distinct symbols in my artwork that symbolize the continuous stream of disorderly information surrounding us.
After tens of thousands of iterations, I arrived at the final result by combining these elements and using different techniques to interact and display them.
This artwork represents the flood of information we encounter daily in the digital age. It's a complex image that may be hard to understand at first glance. It would be best to explore it patiently to grasp its meaning entirely.
The image can be seen as a "digital landscape" that depicts a world of information constantly in flux, with new data points and insights continually emerging and evolving. Every element in the artwork represents information flowing and interacting with other components, creating a complex and dynamic network of interconnected data.
Because of the large size of the image and the many small details, generating the final art was a real "overload" for any computer, so I decided to make this process visible. When loading, the observer sees each canvas with the patterns and effects applied to it and the order in which they overlap. On older computers, this can be quite a long process.
As you delve deeper into the image, you sense a certain beauty in the chaos. The intricate interweaving of data points and the flow of information create an almost mesmerizing effect that captures the eye and the imagination. However, this beauty is also tinged with a hint of anxiety and disorientation, as it becomes apparent that the sheer volume of information is almost impossible to comprehend fully. The image thus challenges us to reflect on our relationship with news and how we navigate this complex and ever-changing digital landscape.
The unique aspect of this artwork lies in the abundance of intricate details that make it impossible to appreciate on a small scale. Its minimum size is 3040 by 4560 pixels to ensure that every element can be observed. To provide the viewer with an opportunity to examine the artwork in its entirety, I followed the suggestion of my friend Piter Pasma and made it interactive. This format allows the viewer to zoom in and out of the image, providing a closer look at the details and giving a more immersive experience. When you open the art in Live View on the Art Blocks page, you can zoom in and out with the mouse wheel and move it around the canvas. In the background of the artwork, there is an unending repetition of all the layers used, creating a continuous loop that draws the viewer in. It's as though the viewer is peering into an infinite information void that is intriguing and bewildering due to its lack of order and coherence. The dynamic layer is intentionally cluttered to heighten the sense of complexity and chaos, mirroring the overwhelming volume of information we encounter daily.
While the description of my work may imply a well-structured plan, the truth is that I began with a basic idea that underwent numerous iterations and dead ends before reaching completion. Like most of my work, the creative journey was jagged and often stressful, continually evolving and morphing as new ideas emerged and were refined.
I have included a gallery of images I saved while working on this project to give you a glimpse into my creative journey. These images illustrate the various paths and possibilities I explored, showcasing my artistic exploration's many twists and turns.
These represent a tiny sample of the thousands of intermediate results I saved during the creative process. As I look back on some of them, I can't help but wonder what might have been if I had gone in a different direction. These thoughts linger long after the project is complete, a constant reminder that each creative endeavor is a learning experience that informs and inspires new projects.