Artists have always created using whatever medium they could get their hands on. As the tools of each technological age have advanced, art has evolved from cave drawings to oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures, photographs, animated graphics, 3D printed works and countless other media.
Today, arguably, no industry is innovating more rapidly than software development. As a result, artistic expression based in coding and programming is experiencing something of a quiet renaissance. Given the vast selection of constantly changing programs, programming languages and processes for artists to work with, no piece of artwork or artistic style is exactly the same.
Ferriss is a Los Angeles-based photographer and artist who experiments with processes like RGB tricolor separation, pixel-sorting algorithms and shader programs to create arrays of kaleidoscopic coding art rich with vibrant color.
“I work a lot with noise functions, Perlin noise, or simplex noise,” Ferriss said. “They’re ways to generate pseudo-randomness in color, like shaping form. It generates a seed pixel, and from that one seed pixel it looks out at its neighbors, and continuously expands so its neighbors will start expanding. It’s essentially like you’re growing an image or a crystal in the way it clumps itself together and generatively expands.”
Ferriss is constantly experimenting with new programs and processes, recently transitioning from RGB separation and pixel sorting into work with shader programs—small programs that run on graphics cards. He is working with a language similar to C is but integrated into OpenGL Shader Language. It’s a hardware-accelerated way to do complex lighting and texture effects like ambient inclusion and texture mapping.
“I just got a program working that creates something called Optical Flow,” Ferriss said. “It analyzes the current frame and the previous frame for implied motion to determine in which direction the pixels are moving. Then it creates almost a motion blur, but more of a liquid flow. So if I were to have run this program on my webcam and wave my hand in front of it, I could move all the pixels in the direction my hand was moving as if they were flowing like a liquid, and they’ll scrunch and twirl and mix with each other.”