Art by Kenny Vaden

Inkscapes: Algorithmic Dreams

I. Introduction

Inkscapes: Algorithmic Dreams is a video + generative art project created by Swickie Fang and Kenny Vaden. The project combines ink flows with reactive generative landscapes, which explode with vibrant patterns. The landscapes consist of three basic forms that seem to move with motion parallax, sample colors into rapidly changing layered circles, or trap the ink flow between polygon tiles. The algorithm-based imagery reacts to the colors in the original footage and blends the color from ink to code.The artwork also contains a nod to Artificial Intelligence in art, which used chatGPT to title the piece.

II. Collaboration

The project is a collaboration between artists Swickie Fang and Kenny Vaden, who have different artistic styles and mediums, and originally met at the gallery opening in Santa Monica, CA. Fang works extensively with digital artwork, photography, and video art, and Vaden is a code-based generative artist with an extensive body of abstract and geometric art. The goal of their collaboration was to create unique and powerful artwork that built on each other’s strengths. The resulting artwork is a dynamic example of generative video art, which merges the ink flows and algorithmic elements seamlessly.

III. Inspiration

The inspiration for the ink flows comes from a single image Fang took at dusk in the Nevada desert. The image captured a feeling that felt comforting, in motion, yet perceiving certain depths & distances still or slowly. Similarly, depth and motion in the code-based elements that surrounded the ink create a sense of travel and movement. Together, the ink flows and gen code are like traveling partners, experiencing the moment in tandem through individual, unexpected pathways, and surprising interactions – two entities on a journey to the same destination.

IV. Filming Process

Filming Inkscapes was a fun but tedious process that required intense lighting from different angles, supreme focus and strategy to capture real-time performance of each ink drop. Variations in lighting, water temperature, oil drops, water drops, mica inks & acrylic inks were utilized to create alternate plumes. Some videos were not post-processed; they exist as-is. Others were created with a “post-ink” process: overlay screens and blends of 1-3 videos exported to be placed frame-by-frame by Vaden. The results were filmed in ultra-high-definition with a landscape ratio that showed ink flowing in slow motion, sideways across the frame.

V. Algorithm Process

Fang’s ink flow footage served as input to the algorithm, which was written in the R Statistics Language and executed in parallel sessions on the R Studio / Posit Cloud system (more than 1000 compute hours!). The algorithm involved three main steps: importing the video, generating one frame of the artwork for each frame in the video, and then combining the images into a final video. The resulting artwork is a dynamic example of generative video art, which merges the ink flows and algorithmic elements seamlessly. The algorithmic layering of imagery was based on a transformation of light and dark values to transparency, adding a sense of depth to the final product.

VI. Debut

The series features 16 unique iterations handpicked by the artists, which was debuted at the Otherblock: Supercharged LA show on March 18, 2023. The Otherblock: Supercharged LA show was a two-day exhibition showcasing various artists and their works, ranging from traditional mediums like painting and sculpture to new media like Inkscapes: Algorithmic Dreams. The artworks were also featured at an event held at the Champs D’Medici in Hollywood, CA on March 17, 2023.

VII. Conclusion

The finalized artwork is a mesmerizing combination of colorful ink flows and algorithmic elements, which create a sense of depth and motion among intermingled hallucinatory forms and shapes that often appear briefly before disappearing again. This collaboration allowed Fang and Vaden to create a powerful and beautiful new work that builds on each other’s artistic strengths.

The artwork is available to collectors at OpenSea:

The entire sequence of 16 videos can also be viewed on YouTube:

Caption: All 16 iterations of Inkscapes
Caption: Teaser video for Inkscapes

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