Digital Art is Art.

(See my previous post for a bit of context here.)

Since I’ve been sans shop/studio and focusing on finishing up our house remodeling, I’ve also felt the need to create some ART. Decided to make use of my iPad Pro once again to produce some pieces of graphic design/2d art. One thing I really appreciate about the iPad is the flexibility it gives for interaction and body position; sitting at a traditional desktop and using the mouse causes me debilitating pain after just a couple hours at this point in my life (old). It’s weird, since I can spend 6 to 8 hours at the business end of a 4 inch grinder with fewer downsides. Dunno, maybe those two items are somehow mysteriously linked?!?!?

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been making:

The process is simple, but complex, in that it involves producing gobs of iterations for each image (sometimes more than 20), then tweaking, adding filters and masks, then stacking them to create blends. The packed-circles effect is accomplished with an app called Percolator, which lends a unique geometric flair to each piece. It’s a workflow that I find both thrilling and relaxing, as it includes elements of surprise and whimsy coupled with ruthless decision making. I’ll often look up at the time and realize 3 or 4 hours have flowed past in blissful concentration. I do struggle a bit with finding value in the work, but I’ve been working on that:

“The amount of labor involved in the creation of a work of art has absolutely no bearing on its aesthetic value.”

This is in response to my self-doubt as to the validity of my digital artwork. I’m actually struggling with the concept of aesthetic value vis-a-vis the method of said work’s creation. Somehow, the feeling that my sculptural work has greater value than my digital work is blocking me. It recalls the days when I was carving, and the contrast in material costs to bronze casting was having undue impact on my pricing. Neither the cost of the raw materials nor the labor involved should influence the apprehension of the value of a work of art. The cost of the canvas and paint to Van Gogh mean nothing to the collector who spends hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the painting. A computer or other digital device is no different than a paint brush, or chisel, or welder, or table saw: it is a (hopefully skillful) means to an end, and that end is capital-A “Art.”

(Thinking about Art in terms of product and price is another mental sticking point for me, but that’s a subject for another day.)

Trying something new(ish).

I have been utilizing the welding process in making my sculptures for 30 years.  It is a straightforward, effective method for joining metal together—but there are some downsides. Biggest of these is the warping that occurs from the adding of heat; second is the aesthetic requirement of dressing the welds. Grinding and finishing out the weld beads and the associated discoloration around them (chasing) is time-consuming and, frankly, painful. I’ve experimented in the past with alternative methods of joining parts, like here:

“Breakfast with Tiffany”

I thought I’d try using rivets to assemble a larger piece, and “Interwoven” seemed like a great candidate, as warping and chasing out the welds on this beast would be bad. Very bad.

This did end up translating into many, many more hours of tedious design time on the computer—but that’s the price for ART!!! I placed over 2000 paired holes into the model and designed a simple tab to span the seam where two parts meet.

A note for the geeks: this shape was generated parametrically with code in the Grasshopper plug-in for Rhinoceros, and is based on the famous strip of Mr. Moebius. The chief challenge here is determining just how to go about realizing this mathematical form; there is no “front” or “back” and the the inner edge becomes the outer, and vice versa. Add to that the way the “faces” weave through each other, and you have a real head-scratcher on your hands/brain.

Death Star.

This image of the galaxy Pictor A and it’s mind-blowing beam of X-rays wandered across my consciousness via social media.

Pictor A
Pictor A

The details of this thing are pretty incredible:

The Star Wars franchise has featured the fictitious “Death Star,” which can shoot powerful beams of radiation across space. The Universe, however, produces phenomena that often surpass what science fiction can conjure.

The Pictor A galaxy is one such impressive object. This galaxy, located nearly 500 million light years from Earth, contains a supermassive black hole at its center. A huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls towards the event horizon, the point of no return for infalling material. This energy produces an enormous beam, or jet, of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light into intergalactic space.

To obtain images of this jet, scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at various times over 15 years. Chandra’s X-ray data (blue) have been combined with radio data from the Australia Telescope Compact Array (red) in this new composite image.

By studying the details of the structure seen in both X-rays and radio waves, scientists seek to gain a deeper understanding of these huge collimated blasts.

The jet [to the right] in Pictor A is the one that is closest to us. It displays continuous X-ray emission over a distance of 300,000 light years. By comparison, the entire Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter. Because of its relative proximity and Chandra’s ability to make detailed X-ray images, scientists can look at detailed features in the jet and test ideas of how the X-ray emission is produced.

In addition to the prominent jet seen pointing to the right in the image, researchers report evidence for another jet pointing in the opposite direction, known as a “counterjet”. While tentative evidence for this counterjet had been previously reported, these new Chandra data confirm its existence. The relative faintness of the counterjet compared to the jet is likely due to the motion of the counterjet away from the line of sight to the Earth.

The complete description from the Chandra folks is here.

I was inspired: