This work is derived from a months-long collaboration with a neuroscience professor and a PhD candidate at Ponce Lab, a neuroscience research hub at Washington University St. Louis. We aimed to produce a sculptural projection embodying the experience of interpreting abstraction. In doing so, we produced a dynamic landscape from perception.
To achieve this, I created an abstract painting that informed a community experiment. My painting approach typically begins with a black underlayer, upon which I block out regions of color which eventually frame entities in my perception. By suspending this work at the beginning of my process, I aimed to render a medium whose ambiguous look would foster rich visual interpretation.
My team coded a setup to generate rounds of images that are visual interpretations of my artwork. I presented the setup to over thirty viewers, prompting each to hover their mouse over the image (or images) that aligned most with their perceptions of different parts of the painting. The look of the images in each new round was impacted by the last based on what pictures viewers were fixated on the longest.
Aside from my participant’s perceptual preferences, the image evolution was guided by an artificial neural network. This program sourced visual inspiration from a dataset containing millions of representational stock images of thousands of kinds of objects. As such, images that evolve from this setup possess more “realistic” elements, allowing for flexible transitions of abstraction into visuals that possess uncanny, lifelike features. By involving audiences in this framework, I hoped to visualize some semblance of the fleeting associations that emerge during the imaginative process.
I cut a topography modeled on the original painting and projected the images my audience generated in tandem with the neural network. This derivative NFT is a collage of these creations. Although compositional framing and technological curation play a strong role in defining the choices of the participants, the visuals that emerge are part of an eternal, human aim to more intimately source creation from perception. The audience becomes the artist.
Learn more about the work here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQq3tb-LmRW/