“The intellect of the wise is like glass; it admits the light of heaven and reflects it.” — Augustus Hare
One of the more exciting things about generative art is how an algorithm can make an infinite amount of visual iterations of itself. This is almost impossible for humans due to constraints like lifespan, patience, and other technical factors. When we think of a prolific painter, that painter probably made around a thousand paintings in their lifetime. A thousand paintings are more than most painters will ever do, yet for a relatively robust algorithm, that’s a few minutes’ worth of computing.
g l a s s by punevyr is a shining example of how prolific algorithmic art can be. It takes a simple cube and breaks it into even simpler parts – its sides – while using a translucent color palette to build iterations. When the algorithm behaves without abstracting the sides beyond isometric proportions, the resulting image is that of a cube that looks as though it's made of glass. For instance, this cube can be a singular object centered on a white background, such as g l a s s #15.
Or, it can be a series of cubes in rows and columns like these:
“I recently took up ice sculpting. Last night I made an ice cube. This morning I made 12, I was prolific.” — Mitch Hedberg
Now, this is where things get spicy. To make the algorithm more diverse and the series more abstract, punevyr allows the algorithm to change the shape of the sides that make up the cube, resulting in really far-out abstractions.
When viewing a single piece, the work comes off as simple, but when viewing a group of pieces, you grasp the complexity of the work. Making isometric cubes is, in and of itself, not an arduous task. But making them attractive is precisely why these abstractions are essential to the series.
Take Donald Judd’s work as an example. When viewed singularly, they are good minimal works.
When viewed in context with the others, such as in the fields around Chinati, West Texas, you can see his obsession with the cube form has merit. The cubes have an array of potential that, when viewed together, make a more coherent body of work that justifies the obsession it receives.
Or maybe, as punevyr says,” it just looks cool,” and that’s a good enough reason to love it.