Within each of us resides an evolutionary history of primal emotions, yet we often spend our lives dulling and controlling these instincts rather than reveling in them. Art is one of the ways we best express those instincts and intuitions – accessing and visualizing their visceral qualities, and releasing our deepest emotions in a way we can share.
pang reflects emotions that take control of our impulses – anguish, euphoria, obsession. By using crayon-like marks, the artworks convey the catharsis felt while drawing with a childlike abandon. To capture what gives such marks true feeling, the works deliberate the intrinsic movements, pressures, and angles shaped by hands in various moods. These qualities and their frenetic meanderings represent the infinite possibilities of where the crayon could go next – if only we could free ourselves from the layers of control we've built.
The contradictions we struggle with are reflected throughout the works: in the long, methodical, and mathematical path to creation that yields work that looks fast, free and unrehearsed; through the randomly-informed computer generation of art that feels human; and by the depiction of long-standing traditional techniques to help display the conceptual range of a young, innovative art movement still establishing its pivotal place in the canon of art. These tensions parallel the work's underlying concept, accentuating the suspicion that a learned fear of emotional expression might just be the source of our own pang.
A note from abstractment:
Collaborating with ajberni was amazing. First, he has incredible attention to detail. I shared over 3,000 WIPs (works-in-progress) with ajberni, and I was consistently amazed at how he would pick up on small (many times, unintentional) changes. Second, his fantastic writing really made tangible the depth of what we were trying to create. Third, he had a laser-focused vision. While this was apparent from the beginning, I remain in awe of his unwavering ability to maintain that focus throughout the entire collection (e.g., palettes, stroke widths, stroke marks, etc.). Last, but quite possibly the most important, he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience that was foundational to pang, but also enriched me as an artist. As a few examples, here is how I'll be approaching my work differently in the future.
- I’ll be less likely to rely on random for generating compositions.
- I’ll be more focused on the meaning behind the work, asking myself several key questions... Why am I creating this collection specifically? What’s the message that I want to send? How will this collection help advance the generative art movement? (Maybe it will, maybe it won't... both are fine, but I need to understand that from the beginning.)
- The previous point will also result in me focusing more on creating than discovering. (Amy Goodchild describes these differing approaches well in her article "How does it feel to make generative art?") I may still discover from time to time, but that will be driven by a clear vision consistently woven throughout the entire collection's details.
A note from ajberni:
Through the entire collaboration abstractment maintained a truly inspiring balance of openness, and strong point of view – bringing a thoughtful approach, an exceptional drive to discover / create, true dedication to figuring new things out in code, and a true 360 view of what he, and we, wanted to create.
As an artist (non-generative), creative director, and collector, it was an honor to splice my own points of view into a collaborative effort with an artist I so deeply respect. I view the process of creation as the same across media, and across phases of any project: it’s an act of self-editing – from the most intuitively fluid editing that one doesn’t even think about, to the thoughtful deliberations needed to cull knowledge and experimentation into new paths. By critically editing the project’s broad strokes (puns never intended) and fine details together in conversation and sketches, we were able to combine our efforts to create pang.
Pang clearly would not exist without abstractment’s rigor, creativity, and their entire generative development of this project. Both myself and Tender (in its efforts to support the generative art movement) have the greatest gratitude to abstractment for everything they put into this. To see a budding artist challenge themself so deeply, to hear their conviction to explore new paths, and to witness the bringing to life of such an impressive algorithm, makes me more excited than ever to see what abstractment has coming next.
a note on crayon marks
Each output uses 1.25 - 3.5 million (very tiny) points to create the stroke marks. When I originally created the pang crayon effect, it was a bit more complicated than necessary, and it resulted in me having to redo the code multiple times. This was especially challenging as we amped up the energy and intensity of pang.
To get the details right, every few days I pulled out my kids crayons to study the stroke marks. One key piece to emulating natural movement was creating smooth variation within the strokes, particularly in their width (how the crayon is held) and density (how hard it is pressed). The strokes portray varying pressure by placing more points in a concentrated area, and varying width by varying the crayon stroke technique (see below). Both of these features are amplified through the angles of curves and the ending of lines, similar to what happens when drawing naturally. I was able to get this right thanks to the easings.net resources. I'd like to give a huge shout out to @amygoodchild for her What is Generative Art? article which introduced me to this resource.
When you look at the thumbnails of pang, you might consider the lines very thin for crayon marks. This is intentional as pang is designed for larger print. One unanticipated challenge with the points (which create the crayon marks) was that they were so small that they disappeared in the high-quality renders needed for large prints. A huge thanks to @rich_poole for helping me figure out how to adapt the artwork to account for this.
There are 27 color palettes in pang, with just a few samples shared below. Each color palette has a probability of 1-6%. For explanatory purposes, I've locked all traits below—except for the one being featured—in order to highlight the differences.
Some stroke techniques are designed to feel very natural, as if drawn by an artist with deep intensity – highlighting the mathematical ability for code to mimic the infinite possibilities of intuitive mark making. Other stroke techniques are more mechanical and edgy – highlighting generative-looking marks to feel organic and emotive. The complementary yet contrasting feel created by these two techniques blurs the lines of generative art with hand-drawn works to produce a series that is obsessively repetitive, organic yet exacting, cohesively stylized, infinitely random, and ultimately human.
These two groupings—hand drawn and mechanical—drive how the varied outputs are created with one of each being randomly assigned.
palette shown: gehenna
Each pang output can have up to two instruments applied, representing 7-14% of the crayon marks. @ajberni did a great job of emphasizing the importance of negative space, and we ended up using these instruments to activate this space by creating a transition in compositional density and a sparse contrasting mark that balances the main composition.
While the following samples do not combine the different instruments, this happens regularly in the outputs.
palette shown: woe
There are 21 compositions in pang, the majority of which were inspired by Edgar Payne's book, Composition of Outdoor Painting. In my previous work I tried to avoid clearly defining compositional parameters, and instead really embrace an all-over randomness. With ajberni's guidance, I took a different approach by dedicating a lot of care to the shape of compositions. The final result is one that embraces both compositional integrity and the beauty of randomness.
palette shown: riant
In developing the different paper options, we wanted the details to look realistic at larger print sizes. Some of these details are best viewed while zoomed in (i.e., in the second image below if viewing on a desktop device).
As we considered paper options, we decided collectors should be able to print on their own textured paper, as if the crayon marks were applied directly. Therefore, by clicking 'B' in live view you'll be able to render the output with a transparent paper setting.
palette shown: vulnerable
This determines the order in which the crayons draw. Each palette, which has ten colors, is divided into two sets (darker and lighter). This trait determines the order for how those sets are displayed in the artwork. We found that all of these approaches resulted in unique outputs which highlighted different characteristics of the respective palette.
Note that there are some color palettes which have dark colors (or all the same colors) on both sides of the palette.
palette shown: benevolent
We explored several options (e.g., banner, square) and ultimately landed on the classics of portrait and landscape. We hope this will allow for some unique and interesting ways to curate pang in a gallery.
palette shown: congruous
frame & frame definition
Sometimes you need a border.
When the border is on, it applies either a rough or clean definition to the frame. We wanted this border to be evident, but not too strict in how it is respected to enhance the hand-drawn technique. If there is no frame, frame definition is assigned as "N/A."
palette shown: placid
Whether printing at a scale that mimics real crayon strokes, or enlarging to accentuate their generative origins, pang will maintain its exactly intended composition and feel. By refining the algorithm and creating render efficiencies for the nearly 3 million carefully scattered dots, the algorithm is capable of outputting up to 15,000 pixels on the long side. Before exporting your piece, you may also turn off the background texture to prioritize the natural texture of your selected paper.
To make fine quality printing more accessible, Tender has partnered with one of the best fine art printers in the world to make exceptional pigment prints of fxhash pieces like pang. Each artwork is printed on quality Hahnemühle uncoated or coated paper (up to 42” on the short side) and safely delivered throughout the US and Worldwide. More details available through Tender.
Connect your wallet to http://fxtender.art and find the piece you own to order a print – every TENDER x Collaboration artwork will automatically receive a price 20% below their standard pricing.