An interview with Perpetual Motion on “Code Vera Code”.
In algorithmic generative art, the artists prepare a set of formal instructions, which are interpreted to perform an artwork. The instructions are written as a computer program. The computer then interprets the instructions to generate a digital image, synthesize sound live, or any other creative endeavor
In this article, we interview Perpetual Motion (@perpetualsthlm), generative artist based in Stockholm, about their recent piece, “Code Vera Code” (September 2023). This artwork is a unique mise en abyme of generative art, where a metaprogram generates the program that generates a visual artwork.
Hence, the title of this post “Generative Generative Art”
BB & MM: Hi Perpetual Motion! Good to see you again. You’ve recently published “Code Vera Code on fxhash, could you briefly introduce the fxhash platform?
Perpetual Motion: fxhash was launched in 2021, it’s a free platform dedicated to generative art, hosted on the Tezos blockchain. It has seen tremendous success over the past two years and increased the visibility of generative algorithmic art. It now hosts thousands of generative artworks, from all over the world and covering a wide spectrum of aesthetics, from very abstract and geometric, to game-inspired ascii art or cyberpunk.
BB & MM: Your piece does “generative generative art. What does this mean?
Perpetual Motion: Generative Art’s core idea is to generate art with code. Artists write programs, which generate artworks when they are executed. Metaprogramming’ core idea is to generate code with code. A metaprogram is a program that generates programs. Generative art and metaprogramming are two distinct fields, usually practiced for different purposes.
In this piece, I wanted to explore both of them together. So I wrote a metaprogram that generates a p5.js program and executes the p5.js code to generate a visual artwork. This is “generative generative art”, that is: Metaprogram -> Program -> Visual Art
BB & MM: Interesting. Are you the only artist exploring this idea of generative generative art?
Perpetual Motion: I’ve never seen that before. The closest related work would be people who use generate AI to generate fxhash, see Kaloh’s article https://www.kaloh.xyz/p/using-chatgpt-to-create-generative
However, in Code Vera Code, there is no AI involved. I wrote the metaprogram that generates the generative art program, and I designed both the code to generate code (metaprogram), and by executing it, we get generated code that generates art (generative art program).
BB & MM: What’s the unique feature of “Code Vera Code”? What makes it notable in the field of generative art?
Perpetual Motion: In “Code Vera Code”, I really wanted that code be part of the piece. That the program is shown to the public, with the same qualities and aesthetic importance as the visual output. I wanted to unveil the two sides of generative art in one unifying piece. This is why the piece is divided in two parts, the top part is the visual generative art output, the bottom part is the code that created it.
BB & MM: That’s super cool! But does this make the mints unique?
BB & MM: The title of the piece is a reference. Could you tell us more about it?
Perpetual Motion: The title of the piece is a reference to Vera Molnar, as well as its aesthetics. Molnar has indeed explored the concept of slightly distorted squares extensively. The color of the piece is also a direct reference to the display media of those times, in green and black. The piece is an interplay between old times with Molnar and terminals and contemporary p5.js art.
BB & MM: What are your next steps?
Perpetual Motion: Next, I would like to live-code generative generative art. Showing the code that generates sound or visuals is already an essential aspect of live coding. The audience and the artists love to see the code, which makes it approachable and gives it a more humanized touch. Live-coding generative generative art could amplify this feeling of code appropriation, watching both the code that generates code and code that generates art in action.
BB & MM: Thank you very much Perpetual Motion! How can people follow your work?
Benoit Baudry (BB @al.my.re) and Martin Monperrus (MM @martinmonperrus) are operating in the digital art scene in Stockholm, Sweden. They are authors of the software concept behind NFT project FolkFigur (@FolkFigur), public artwork on the Ethereum blockchain (https://folkfigur.se/home) and co-founded re|thread (@rethread.art), an organization that performs generative art for the people.
Discover the project MindDrawPlay by George Mobius.
"I wish more people understood Web3 = ownership and community."