201102132011, digital image and limited edition of 20 archival pigment prints
Copyright S.Monnier 2011
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A blog post related to this work:
February 17th 2011
This screaming little guy was hidden in the middle of a pattern. I haven't spoken yet about the new algorithm I've been using in recent works (I plan to!). But one of its characteristic features is that it displays "local" mirror symmetries, in the sense that the symmetry exists on a small part of the pattern, but is broken on larger parts. As the human face is symmetric, this property makes it much more likely to display shapes our brain could interpret as faces. That's why in these patterns, it is relatively common to find three blobs that can be seen as two eyes and a mouth. Here is for instance a more happy guy that can be found in the zoomable version of 20110212-1, if you search a bit.
Detail of 20110213-1
What makes the first example above stand out is its powerful expression, that somehow reminiscent of expressionist paintings like The Scream.
It may not be obvious to people unfamiliar with algorithmic art that unlike the painter, the algorithmic artist in general cannot change some part of his picture without altering it as a whole. As a result it is usually impossible, when one finds a shape looking roughly like some object, to work on it and turn it into a figurative picture. Some of the details displayed by the screaming guy are so perfect that it is hard to believe they are the fruit of pure randomness (but they are!). His tears and tongue (or glottis?) reinforce his look of utter fright and despair. The formidable ability of our brain to interpret shapes and colors does the rest. (Traditional painters have been heavily relying upon this ability since the impressionists.) But in the end algorithmic art is not always only about aseptised objectiveness.