Algorithmic expressionism

Algorithmic expressionism

Mark Wilson in an interview on the intuitive nature of writing software:

Writing software can be very intuitive. Even with a very formally defined programming goal, there are usually many different ways to achieve that goal. Choosing a good path to achieve the goal is a question of intuition, judgment, intelligence, and probably a thousand other things. In my case, I don’t have a formally defined goal — except to make what I hope are interesting pictures. So I’m juggling these various algorithms — these recipes — in my software, adding a bit more here, taking some away there. I could almost describe my working process as “Algorithmic Expressionism.” This might be a bit of hyperbole, but again, I don’t have a formal goal. I follow the process where it leads me.

This immediately struck me as similar to E. L. Doctorow on writing: “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Wilson again on the random aspects of the software and surprise:

The power and excitement of image making with these machines lies with their power to create many choices. Randomness does lead to surprises and this is always exciting.

Wise words.