Most generative art looks as if it were either crafted by an artist learning to code, or a computer scientist learning design. On rare occasions, however, one encounters that unique artist who has achieved mastery across both domains. Magic is invariably the result, and we all get a lesson in the full possibilities of a genre.
Robert Hodgin’s latest series on fxhash Growth v02 features 512 compositions that range between sumptuous, lush, and ornate outputs – by turns aesthetically rich and bountiful. The artist draws inspiration from the timeless interior designs of William Morris and their reimagining by contemporary portrait painter Kehinde Wiley. Hodgin allies the draftsmanship of the former with the all-over opalescence of the latter to produce a transcendent masterwork of generative art.
Hodgin’s sensitivity to color, motion, and composition are on full display in these works, raising the bar for art made with code which, too often, treats the core design elements as an afterthought. Superior craftsmanship is expressed through attention to detail, subtle variation in line weight, masterful use of gradients, and a careful scaling and stacking of elements to create depth and negative space. The artist’s virtuosity in time-based media is visible in the hundreds of procedurally animated flowers that blossom as if painstakingly animated by hand. Vertical bars of varying width add compositional structure and visual contrast to the endlessly winding arabesques of lavish vegetation.
While more stylized and less illusionistic in-depth, I see Growth v02 as sharing qualities with Zancan’s Garden, Monoliths. Both works break from the hard-edged geometries typical of generative art and instead take inspiration from nature while tapping into the affordance for visual complexity and detail native to art made with code. I’m not sure yet if we are seeing a broader movement away from austere minimalism toward the digital baroque, but if so I’d welcome it.