The podium is so far away itll take 20 minutes to get up there. You know if theyd have asked me Id have told them that their exposition minus equals their current exposition plus the destination times point five. It would have been kind of like this. But the only problem with that equation is that Id never get to my lap-top, so we could be here a while.
OK. Can you see the Doors people sitting around thinking, Yeah, we got this philosopher and who should we put on next?
Anyway, so Ive got 20 minutes and Ive a bunch of stuff I want to show you which hopefully youll enjoy.
I just want to back up a little bit and talk about the space where I came from. Im a formally trained oil-painter and I make my own oil paint and this is a painter that I really like, Marsmo Raal, but hes dead, though a good painter nonetheless, though dead. Anyway this is the kind of work that I do and it was very like, intense, so I thought I would start setting my artwork on fire, so I started doing these paintings, well I bake them in my oven, if youd like to try this, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees, rotate the piece of paper each time, 7 minutes. So I started baking some of my art work and I found that theses 2 resins that I was using, on painting, , would separate and crack against each other, so I was very interested in creating these very literally things and then throwing them to accident and chance. So I started setting all my artwork on fire. (image) These are a few of them that I burned and hey, I have no idea what the fuck that says.
Anyway, Im interested in this notion of accident. I went to Art School and I got into computers by accident. This is all true. Everything Ive said to this point has been true. I havent lied to you.
So hey, one day Im sitting in my living room and Im eating this orange. I bought this really great bamboo table from pottery barn, which is like fantastic and it has this raised edge on the table and Im eating this orange and I throw down this orange. The orange can roll around the table but it cant fall off the table because it has this edge. So because Im a geek, I wrote it, here were presented with the table and you can just basically move the orange around on the table and the orange minds the table. Im a very busy guy (laughter) the interesting thing about this pattern is that if you write it in a way it doesnt really matter how big the table is because the orange will always mind the table. It doesnt matter how big the orange might be, the orange can be quite large on a smaller pottery barn bamboo table. You might have 4 oranges, and again I dont have to change the program, I can just ask the oranges to mind the table and theres this relationship between orange and table. And this is how I write a lot of my code. So I got to thinking about this. I went to Japan and I went to this robot store in Okiharbara and you can get these things called wonder boards and you can get these insects that you can program with game boys. And here Im programming a little robot and its an orange so it cant fall off the table. A little thing runs around and it cant fall off. So in a sense Ive programmed a canvas on which this little insect can run around on. But 1 was cool, but 2 was even better, because you could program one to have pheromones, (laughter), so it would try to chase, and try to have sex with the other robot insect. So this was a great inspiration. You can see we have the lovely red female, desperately trying to get away from the love-stricken green dot. And so the more she runs, the more he desperately I love you, no I love you. He does! So then I was reading this book on physics and it said that the quantum mechanical view of reality is very bizarre, even to scientists. Its not when we look at one thing, its when we look at 2 things and understand how theyre different. (laughter) So what that told me was that I didnt care about the red dot, I didnt care about the green dot, what I cared about was their relationship, or in this case, the distance between each dot. So as you can see, as the system moves, you might notice that the line between the 2 circles keeps changing. So thats how theyre different. Fuck the dots! What we care about is their relationship, not that you really could. (laughter). So then I started thinking, what if I just keep watching the distance and how it changes and just let the system draw. Again in this system the 2 dots map the distance from each other and then the line draws. Unfortunately, I didnt know this, because I went to art school and I dont have a degree in computer science, that every time I draw a line I take a bite out of memory, so if this will run for a few hours Ill crash a machine. Which is very conceptual, (laughter) Thanks asshole! You just crashed my machine!
So I had to fix it and interestingly enough, as long as I have a line thats born and then have it live for a little bit and then kill it, the program seems OK with this. The fact that I would have to implement life and death, the memory that I take, I ultimately end up giving back.
So again the physics thing says were not really interested in the dots, were interested in how theyre different. So we can take the dots away. Even though theyre still there, theyre just not visible. I design these things. And when Im done, I literally live with these things for months and months and months and try to come up with as many ideas to change this system.
So, for example Ill just show you 4.
This one has sound, I think.
In the first one, I didnt know about the memory problem, until people started yelling at me via the email, saying that theyd gone to lunch and Id just crashed their machine. But interestingly enough, it was kind of like cloud-watching and I could just watch this thing for a few days, then Id get an email from a guy whod take a screen shot and say Do you see the dump truck? and Id be like, Yes! (laughter)
Again, its a random system, its a chaotic system, but Im somewhat controlling it. The table is still there, the oranges are still there, but weve just added a few components.
So I then tried to change the system, and this is the piece where I implement death. Im slightly modifying the lie a bit. Can you see that? Barely. So in this piece I implement death and it seems to work out pretty much OK. Death is fine.
In this one, I had this like really horrible experience in Art School, where my teacher put this big plant on the table and said, No, no, no, were going to draw in between the plant! (laughter) Im really damaged. In this piece, it draws the shapes grey on grey and right before the piece dies, it flashes white. What youre seeing is the space between the shapes, so its thinking about negative space, its thinking about that f
g fern I had to draw in art class. Im not bitter.
So then the 4th piece, again abandoning the line and just using different types of circles to create a sense of bacteria.
The thing thats funny, I designed this system and then I did 4 projects and people thought I was busy. I just kept showing them the same thing over and over again. The system was fundamentally the same, all that changed was the colours and the assets that it used as the relationship between one dot and another. Even though the form looked completely different, its the same fundamental engine.
So were all back in Japan and I go an hour out to this place called Kama Kura which is where this big diabutsu is. Its got like these big shoes, just in case it wants to go for a walk. And there was this rice paper store at the end of the hill and of course, I almost had a heart attack, because I figured I could write most of the paper in the store. So I bought up all this paper and I took it home and I started writing these algorithms to generate rice paper. And so you might notice that its changing colours of pink. Everything is sort of a variable. Im a designer of systems, but the systems make the art.
So then I get a lot of people who ask me to do this kind of stuff for print work. Because my work is primarily vector, I basically run this stuff through postscript and I have a EPS. I have an illustrator file. So I write a lot of these systems and every time I press the space bar it says, How about this? How about that? Maybe this? Do you like that? (laughter)
Wow, I havent even got naked and set myself on fire yet!
You just wait.
So heres, you can kind of imagine how I do it. I spend like 4 hours writing the program and then I sit up for like 3 days going Jesus Christ! This is great! And so its kind of changed how I think about art and design. Ive let got of some of the control and no the computer has the control and it generates these ideas or patterns that perhaps I never would have though of. So this is in a recent book called US Coast to Coast about United States graphic designers. Even though I wouldnt consider myself a graphic designer, so these are some of the four-spreads of Moments in time that I deemed Beautiful that this algorithm generated.
So I even took this a step further and right now Im writing up the proposal to do an installation at the, the Modern Something or Other in Tokyo. It is modern and its in Tokyo. Be there!. Where what happened is, that people can visit the museum, come in and take pictures of themselves with this camera, and then the algorithm would re-draw their portrait using a branch, leaf or a blossom, then once the museum closed, I would basically store all the data during the day and project it on the outside sidewalk, so it would show peoples photos and then draw their portraits. All during the night youd get the people who had come in and taken pictures of themselves.
Still, everything is true. Theres my wife, shes sexy as branches, isnt she?
So just to force this down your throat a little bit more, heres some other ones.
I went to school for illustration, these is a book that I picked up last time I was here in Amsterdam about Dutch crests and I ended up re-drawing some of the crests and there were a few people who saw this piece and said, My god, I live in that town! So we Hi-Fived each other and went our separate ways. So again, using illustration in these systems, heres another one. Again this is the whole space bar idea, that every time I press the space bar it will give me a different perception. Some of these assholes spend hours doing this. Ill just press the space bar! (He laughs manically!) Oh you stopped!
I also write a lot of 3-d engines. Thinking about putting things on 3-d engines and generating forms that way.
Clouds, using the same spacebar technology, registered trade-mark Joshua Davis.
So one thing that we really like to do, I collaborate with this other guy about sound and one day I go over to his house and he opens up the door with this power drill and I said What are you doing? and he said Come in and check this out, and we went in and hed bought all these 2 by 4s from Home Depo and he had all these screws, 3 inch screws and hes like, listen to this!, and he took the power drill. And have you ever drilled into wood kind of slow? and he composed this whole song on Drilling into wood.
Im very lonely.
Again, about me not wanting to have control. And a lot of these systems, like the one in the beginning, is an algorithm that I found on a hurricane, so I just modified this hurricane so it would spin up and spin down, and its interesting to look at some of these systems, like me eating an orange and throwing it on a bamboo table, or looking at these robots in the robot store. And I meet a lot of people who ask me, Where do you get your inspiration from? And I dont know if I really get inspiration, its not something like, Oh there it is! I think its ways of seeing. Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense?
Like when I first moved to New York, I grew up in the mountains of Colorado, I was so totally excited that I got to ride an underground roller coaster to work everyday. Im totally excited to have this Whoooo! experience and everyone is asleep. So its only after a few months, I become a typical New Yorker, Im asleep on the train and Ive deemed that experience non-interesting any more. So I think inspiration is a form of complacency, its trying to look at the things that have fallen into the wayside,
So I think I finally want to close with this quote on Buddhism, from this one woman, that I wont even attempt to say her name, because youll all laugh at me.
Asking questions is healthy, it enables us to clarify doubts and gain new information. Life should be more about holding questions then finding answers. The act of seeking an answer comes from the wish to make life, which is basically fluid into something that is more certain and fixed. This often leads to rigidity, close-mindedness and intolerance.
On the other hand, holding a question, exploring its many facets over time, puts us in touch with the mystery of life. Holding questions accustoms us to the ungraspable nature of life and enables us to understand things from a range of perspectives.
And I still dont know what the hell Im doing.
Recent interview with Joshua:
Interview with Joshua on Digital Web old, but still good