Star forming region NGC 3324
by Adam Ferriss
In The Guardian Jonathan Jones recently argued that science today provides the most beautiful and awe inspiring images, not Art. But for all the beautiful imagery the Hubble project has to show I feel the same as walking in the forest, which I love, or seeing a ravishing sunset; the images are beautiful because they represent so elegantly the reality; I marvel at being alive on this beautiful earth. I get solace and pleasure and wonder from it. But this is not what I get from art. From art I get a sense of my place in culture, what being human, being an individual, being me, means in this world. For that I need more than a registration of reality, however scientific, complex or beautiful.
Adam Ferriss on his series 500 years away: Written in the Processing IDE, this project is based upon an implementation of the quicksort algorithm in a two dimensional pixel array. Imagery from the Hubble space telescope is fed into the algorithm with a given set of parameters. The results are controlled by thresholding variables based upon pixel attributes such as brightness, hue, saturation, and RGB. The code is run over and over again, always with different parameters until the desired results are achieved. A finished image has had it’s pixels rearranged dozens of different ways before a final sort is chosen. — At 7748x3034, star forming region NGC 3324 is the largest image I have sorted to date.
I think ‘chosen’ is the cardinal term here. I find it both exciting and obvious that the hand of the artist is still recognisable in computer generated art. Does that matter? Not more or less than it has (not) mattered for centuries. It’s the resulting work, and, as I am discovering more, the connection to the ideas of the artist, that matters. Art is communication without a defined message. You get to decide, as much as the artist does, what it means, if anything. And where science can certainly be (awe)inspiring, art in that sense is empowering.
What's in the download?
The download contains: the final rendered file of 3034 x 7748 pixels, the original source images from NASA and the edited PSD file. The accompanying PDF illustrates the process and the code used to make the piece.
Adam Ferriss is a photographer and digital media artist based in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to his artistic practice, Adam runs the photography labs at Otis College of Art and Design. His most recent projects involve creating tri-chromatic color separation photographs and algorithmically restructuring pixel array data.