It was an earworm that lasted 4 dozen years, but it wasn’t a jingle, it was an algorithm. An equation George Legrady came across in 1986 in Scientific American has captured his imagination once more and once more ever given that.
In 2021, he returned to it as soon as a lot more to produce “Phantom Waves,” a series of pictures exploring the intersection of digital photography and math, now on view in the California Nanosystems Institute on the second floor of Elings Hall at UC Santa Barbara.
George Legrady’s ‘Phantom Waves,’ 2021. (George Legrady) Credit: George Legrady
“Every as soon as in a though, I come back to this, how to use math equations to produce aesthetically exciting benefits,” mentioned Legrady, distinguished professor of media art and technologies.
“The minute you digitize a photograph, it is definitely not a photograph any longer it is just a string of numbers,” Legrady mentioned. “The other issue about digitality is you can move information from 1 domain to one more. You can turn information into a sound or an image due to the fact it is just numbers.”
Published in the report “Computer Recreations” by A.K. Dewdney, the algorithm in Scientific American that inspired Legrady employs frequency modulation. In physics, it is signal processing but for Legrady, it is an aesthetic device.
Writing in C language on an IBM individual pc, his experimentation in the 1980s brought new types of photographic visualization. Some of it was created feasible by technological developments such as the Truevision Targa analog-to-digital graphics board, which was the very first to let artists to manipulate photographs with code.
Each and every six or so years given that, Legrady has returned to this algorithm to see what he can do with the newest technologies.
His new function utilizes the 1986 equation along with custom application, capturing in nonetheless pictures the oscillations of different frequencies that modulate each and every other, building complicated patterns.
The algorithm functions by building the frequency modulation: A sinewave frequency with a worth is sent from left to correct. At the similar time, one more sinewave with a distinctive frequency worth is sent from prime to bottom.
The two waves intersect at each and every pixel building numeric values, resulting in harmonics, quite a few occasions outdoors of the 0–255 colour variety from black to white. Legrady explained that he then “recycles the out of bounds values to get distinctive benefits.”
“The patterns emerge by way of phantom frequencies generated when the signal goes beyond the tonal variety of person pixels,” Legrady mentioned.
“This series brings consideration to the nature of the digital photograph as fundamentally a sequence of numbers that can be manipulated mathematically to outcome in pictures that do not exist in the planet but are developed algorithmically,” he mentioned.
“The series is a project in generative art, an iterative human-application collaboration exactly where the artist selects numeric parameters by which the application generates tonal values for each and every pixel inside the two-dimensional image space,” he mentioned.
In element, Legrady was inspired by the electronic music compositions of Iannis Xenakis and other 20th century composers. “Phantom Wave” pictures are visual expressions resulting from tweaking oscillating frequencies applied to pixels inside a two-dimensional matrix space.
The objective, Legrady explained, was “to arrive at pictures that could not have been realized with no computation and mathematical modeling.”
Building symmetrical and monochromatic strings of pixels and patterns, Legrady’s “Phantom Waves” pictures discover digital photography by way of the lens of mathematical equations.
“Why do we think in the photograph when it is a constructed image? It is not a correct image,” mentioned Legrady, who also directs UCSB’s Experimental Visualization Lab. “With digital technologies it is entirely manipulated and processed.”
The current functions had been inspired by experimentation Legrady undertook in his spare time more than COVID-19. He also noted that in the years involving 2000 and 2016 he was operating with collaborators on complicated information collection and evaluation.
Then, in 2020, he had an art installation canceled in Beijing due to the fact of the pandemic (it is now been rescheduled to open at the Shenzhen Museum of Modern Art in April).
Through quarantine, he mentioned, he was “just sitting right here in my studio by myself.” He started to revisit projects that he could rapidly do on his personal. “I was experimenting with sending sine waves left to correct or prime to bottom. The waves imply that each and every pixel receives a signal, and it creates harmonics.”
As an analogy, Legrady likened how the algorithm functions to making sounds on a guitar string with your finger. If you push the string down and play it, you get a sound. But if you just touch the string, you get harmonics.
The pictures depict exactly where the waves meet at each and every pixel — and by way of this method, Legrady can produce values that are beyond the tonal variety of the photographic image.
“Frequency modulation is a basic element of electronic music composition as practiced by my Media Arts & Technologies colleagues Curtis Roads, JoAnn Kuchera-Morin, director of the Allosphere, and lecturer Karl Yerkes,” Legrady mentioned. “I’m interested in the type of pictures I can produce.”
Legrady received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. His artworks are in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Centre Pompidou Museum, Paris, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Musée d’art Contemporain in Montreal, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, 21c Museum and other folks.
He has realized a quantity of permanent public commissions such as “Kinetic Flow,” a significant 18’ x 22’ abstract image of a sinewave modulated by subway demographic information at the Santa Monica/Vermont Los Angeles Metro Rail (2007). He also has designed public installations for the Corporate Executive Board (Arlington 2009) and the Seattle Central Library (2005–present) — a information visualization installation that could be the longest operating project of its type to-date.
UCSB has been dwelling to other pioneering algorithmic artists, like media arts and technologies professors Marcos Novak and Marko Peljhan and Jean-Pierre Hebert, former longtime artist-in-residence of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, whose function is presently exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the show Coded: Art Enters the Laptop Age.
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