Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]
James Paterson: Drawings

James Paterson: Drawings

Bitforms Gallery in New York is currently showing work by James Paterson, the prolific mastermind behind Presstube. Pieces on display include drawings, prints and animation work. Paterson has pioneered a style combining traditional drawing with programmed composition. Sketches are done on paper, and favorites are selected to be digitized using a tablet as input device. Some are also animated frame-by-frame. These individual elements are then arranged and controlled using programming.

The resulting compositions are often a cacophony of shapes, demonstrating Paterson’s vivid visual humor. Unfortunately the Bitforms site features only rather small images of the actual exhibition, so it’s difficult to appreciate the complexity of the drawings. Images from a previous show in Tokyo illustrates it better: Skulls Show.

From the Bitforms press release:

At the heart of James Paterson’s work, there is no formal separation between drawing, animation and programming. His imagination clouds are filled with free-floating imagery– ice cream fountains, rains of numbers, and shooting star snowflakes. Scuba gear and dancing ladies morph into wriggling lines that twist into space. Paterson brings his characters to life through a natural synthesis of modern drawing tools. The results resemble a graffiti that seems to write itself.

Departing from traditional techniques, Paterson experiments with code and authors programs to assist him with all areas of his work. Using software as the intermediary, Paterson applies animation concepts to drawing, and vice versa. Contour drawings form the aesthetic core of his artwork. The drawings are scanned from sketchbooks, and form a vast digital library of source material for Paterson’s virtual collages.

The large prints on display in this exhibition are composed and colored using algorithms authored by Paterson. These “arrangement programs” visually smash his original drawings together, and then output 2-D compositions. Before arriving at the final image, Paterson alters each collage again with Flash, changing the layers and colors.

Joshua Davis (the original Flash Guru) uses a similar technique for his work on once-upon-a-forest, combining pre-drawn elements with automatic composition to great effect. Both Davis and Paterson were recently in a show called Accident Happy, which describes the work as “computer randomized”.

2 Responses to “James Paterson: Drawings and code”
1. anders, September 14th, 2006 at 21:09

What sort of flashscripts does James use, is it available anywhere?
I seem to remember playing with something they released years ago..

2. watz, September 15th, 2006 at 16:09

James Paterson has worked with Amit Pitaru in the past, but I don’t know whether their code has ever been openly published. At least I haven’t seen it.


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