This appearing at once
Today some very fine people payed me for something I made two years ago. They really love the things I make. It was the third time they came to my studio. This time they wanted to have that particular painting.
The painting in question is "OR(g)". Technically it is a digital print on paper. The image is a result of a set of instructions I wrote to be executed by a computer. There is no paint involved, no brush and I only used my hands to type on a keyboard. It's ink sprayed on paper by a printer instructed by the software. There is no visible painting process.
These kind of images simply could not be made by hand. The perfect, hard edged forms and colours appear all at once. This appearing at once of the abundance of tones and shades is very difficult to match by mixing colours by hand. Coincidence and randomness is part of the set up in the lines of code. There is no need for a magical subjective touch.
The instructions I write are simple. My mind is not that of a programmer. Only ten simple geometric forms are combined to form basic human figures. These are arranged and joined randomly while playing with several parameters. A mix of chance elements and functions in the code make it impossible to reproduce exactly the same instance and keep the necessary opening to surprise. Apart from the human form there is no particular reference to a romantic concept of nature. It is fantastic that these unpainted images are still referred to as paintings. The essence of the concept of painting as colour and form on a surface is obviously enough to keep using the word.
My unpainted prints have also something in common with photography. A camera is a machine that captures in a certain way, an instance of what you think you can see through it. Nowadays it saves a picture of the stream of realities happening before it into a digital file. We still like to think photographs depict a true reality. They are probably only illusions.
The small pieces of software I write, produce animations, a stream of compositions ruled by the instructions contained in the code. Just like the photographer, I only push a button to keep an instance of what I think I saw. The images I keep to print, are true visualisations of the instructions I wrote.
My prints aren't painted and they are also no objects by themselves. Contemplative in spirit, these colourful compositions represent probably instances of my fragmented perception of things.
Author: Hans Verhaegen, 2015