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Lovely Pixel Paintings Created By Software Following Its Own Muse

So who gets to own the work?

When a programmer writes software to create spontaneous art, who do we call the artist? Because whereas artists of yesteryear worked in oil paints and canvas, Andreas Nicolas Fischer has a computer paint his pictures for him.

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His application, which he calls Schwarm, is like an Instagram filter on LSD. It manipulates a source photo until it’s almost unrecognizable, but Fischer’s software is a lot more detailed, considerate, and autonomous than your average filter.

“The software analyzes a sequence of images using their color values at their origin, which it then spreads like a brush would spread paint,” Fischer explains to Co.Design. “The original motif only serves as a container for color and composition. The work is about the abstraction itself, not what the compositions are abstracted from.”

The path of each line is unique, what Fischer calls “deterministic randomness,” meaning there’s a spontaneous logic behind the work, just like we see in human painters. Beyond Fischer’s selection of the source photo, his software always does its own thing, and in this regard, Fischer has become greatly removed from his own creation. Like an art teacher showing up at a student’s gallery, the influences may be easy to trace, but the creative process has been passed along to someone new. “I never cease to be fascinated by creating art with a simple set of rules, which has a certain degree of autonomy,” he explains. “This makes me both author and spectator of my own work.”

As software grows more autonomous, it will be fascinating to see who along the chain can take credit for the art of tomorrow. Because while we all know Monet and Van Gogh, can anyone tell me about the parents who birthed and raised them–even the mentors who taught them to paint in the first place? That said, I’ll confidently give Schwarm’s credit to Fischer–that is, until Schwarm gives me an interview of (his? her?) own.

[Hat tip: Creative Applications]

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day

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