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...]
 
Jonathan McCabe: The Origami Butterfly Method

Jonathan McCabe: The Origami Butterfly Method

Last week I opened an exhibition by Canberra artist Jonathan McCabe – The Origami Butterfly Method. The show presents a family of images made with a supremely elegant – and as far as I know original – generative technique. The Method goes something like this. Imagine a square sheet of paper, and mark a dot somewhere on it and record its position. Fold the paper along a random axis, and watch where the dot ends up, recording this position. Repeat this thirty-two times. Use a weighted average of that list of points to determine the colour (or at least hue and brightness) of that original point. Now repeat, using the same folds, for as many points on the square as you like (say, several million). What I love about this is that despite the intensely tactile quality of the surfaces, these images have no “thing” to them: they’re visualisations of transformations of space – traces of topological history. This generative technique has lots of neat features. It’s resolution-independent (you can sample as many points as you like), the procedure is simple and compact (32 folds) and because it’s a sequence, it’s richly connected with image structure: the first fold is the most significant in controlling macro-structure, and the last fold influences the smallest level of detail. McCabe uses genetic algorithms to search and “optimise” the space of possible fold sequences / images. Oh and also, he’s making animations out of them. In this exhibition McCabe printed high-res images onto 72cm square canvases, in (very affordable) editions of one. More than half this show at The Front gallery, Lyneham, sold on the opening night.

McCabe isn’t plugged in to the generative arts scene – I had to ask him to make this site so I could write this post. Maybe that’s part of the reason his work seems so fresh – he’s been refining these techniques by himself for quite a while. After seeing this show I think the work could do with some attention: it’s got “retinality” to burn but underneath that is a generative technique that is poetic in itself.

43 Responses to “Jonathan McCabe”
1. We need money not art, April 16th, 2006 at 07:04

Jonathan McCabe

Jonathan McCabe: The Origami Butterfly Method最近,我为堪培拉艺术家Jonathan McCabe办了个展览——折纸手工蝴蝶法。展览带出一系列优雅无比的图像,而且,就我所见,这是不折不扣的原创衍生技术。…

2. Stephen Steward, October 14th, 2006 at 22:10

http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?s=f2433a3fa233493f89bd68f4ba351f2b&threadid=257473

it kinda sorta has been done using Winamp AVS, but McCabe is certainly taking it a few steps further.

3. NO ONE RECEIVING » some things that inspired me in 2006, part one, December 14th, 2006 at 23:12

[...] I encountered Jonathan McCabe while reading the great computational art blog dataisnature. He’s a visual artist in Australia who specializes in algorithmic and generative approaches to the visualization of data. He was kind enough to send me DVDs of two of his pieces, “Nervous States” and “The Origami Butterfly Method.” I’m lucky that I was able to view them before the DVD drive on my laptop kicked it. They’re unearthly, fluid, organic, and definitely psychedelic constructions that seem to follow a kind of alien logic all their own. The “Nervous States” piece visualizes the output of a neural network, and the “Butterfly Method” uses a simple, iterative fold-and-copy process (described at generatorx) to create a trippily reflective image evoking butterfly wings. [...]

4. softexpose.com » Blog Archive » Generative Art is Child’s Play (and vice versa), August 29th, 2007 at 13:08

[...] There’s a whole battery of these techniques, all generative in similar ways. They all give back more (in a way) than the artist puts in, by setting up physical and formal constraints. The window technique literally transforms – folds and multiplies – the mapping between input and output. The marble technique also transforms the input/output map, but adds the physical dynamics of marbles and paint. As the image above shows, we get all kinds of nice stuff “for free” from this system: collisions, momentum, adhesion; the marbles trace distinct patterns as they rotate, and the rotating patterns change as the paint sheds. Just like a multi-agent Processing drawing machine, but gooier, and with more complex physics. For the digital hyperspace version of the folded window technique, see Jonathan McCabe’s butterfly origami, previously blogged on generator.x. [...]

5. softexpose.com » Blog Archive » Jonathan McCabe - Nervous States, August 29th, 2007 at 13:08

[...] Canberra artist Jonathan McCabe is currently showing some digital prints at the Front gallery in Lyneham – the show is called Nervous States, ostensibly referring to the neural net behind the generative process… but it seems to have much wider implications just at the moment, too. I wrote about McCabe’s Butterfly Origami Method on generator.x a while ago, and was impressed by the elegance of the generative mechanism and the visual richness of the results. Nervous States is just as elegant, and visually psychedelic, but uses a completely different generative approach. [...]

6. softexpose.com » Blog Archive » Jonathan McCabe - Very Cellular Automata, August 29th, 2007 at 13:08

[...] A new year, and another exhibition from Jonathan McCabe at Canberra gallery/cafe The Front. The show, Travelling Wave, was shared with painter Luke Nilsen; it included some collaborative canvases, with Nilsen painting over McCabe’s digital patterns, and new works from McCabe’s Butterfly Origami and Nervous States processes. But also on the (very crowded) walls were images from a new McCabe process, based on cellular automata. In themselves the images are chunks of psychedelic maximalism, similar to McCabe’s earlier work. But once again the real hook here is the mind bending and unusually rich generative process. [...]

7. Monica, September 14th, 2007 at 00:09

maybe this video its not origami but its creative too:
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/807697/polo_shirts_made_by_marlboro_cigarettes_box

8. Cool Butterfly Lover, January 9th, 2008 at 02:01

Awesome work, I never knew this was possible. Origami is an art form that I would like to explore, and this is inspiring.

9. Art from Code | Generator.x « Leituras, um processo…, November 7th, 2009 at 23:11

[...] das exposições mais conhecidas de McCabe é The Origami Butterfly Method, na qual são apresentadas imagens elaboradas através de técnicas [...]

10. Written Images | Syntopia, October 5th, 2012 at 08:10

[...] Origami Butterfly process is described in a bit more detail at this post at [...]

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