Enter The Binary Worlds of Anonymous Generative Coder LoremIpsum-404

You won't believe the fact that these gorgeous images were rendered entirely in binary code.

by DJ Pangburn
Oct 16 2014, 8:30pm

One of the many splendid things about digital art is the role anonymity can play in its transmission. The idea that the artist could be just about anyone is often just as thrilling as the work itself. This is the very antithesis of the art world conceit that artists are brands, and that works are just parts of a collector's investment portfolio. Dextro, one of the pioneers of Internet and generative art, has been anonymous since the mid-'90s, and it's not as if it's hurt him. The aptly-named French artist LoremIpsum-404 seems to be deftly following in Dextro's footsteps, staking out digital vistas with code-based art.

In our email correspondence, LoremIpsum-404 seems to have a real name, Flo Arrieu, but this could be a bit of clever misdirection. You see, LoremIpsum-404, freely admits a penchant for multiple personalities. In a way, it's a bit like he or she is the Internet incarnate. “Online, we are a heterogeneous continuous flow of permanent production,” LoremIpsum-404 told The Creators Project. “We slip into an existence of paperless electric cables to travel through waves. We do see each other, and our thoughts are almost instantaneous, so I think that leads to humility. Anonymity and multiple personalities are of some interest to me, and my ego  grows tiresome, so I identify as LoremIpsum-404 for now.”

One piece of LoremIpsum-404's art, looked at from afar, might resemble an animal's fur, were it painted. Another could look like a black hole collapsing in on itself. Others might look like a tangled, multi-colored mass of muscle fibers, or particles or waves of light caught in slow-motion moving through the universe's void.   To create this vibrant, psychedelically-rendered art, which simultaneously seems organic, cosmic and microscopic, LoremIpsum-404 works with Processing and a Java library. “Currently, I have a dozen basic codes that allow me to work a series of drawings from tiny variations in their code,” the artist said.

Every one of LoremIpsum-404's images are rendered in binary code—0's and 1's—followed by the image number, which sequentially identifies it by the order in which it was created. A second number is included which corresponds to the number of variations in the code. One piece, for example, could look like this: “01110011011000010110111001110011001000000111010001101001011101000111001001100101 – 401+11”. As a matter of artistic principle, LoremIpsum-404 doesn't display any work in galleries. The Internet is the only “broadcast medium” for the work. “The ubiquity of the web changes the relationship one has with the art,” LoremIpsum-404 said. “I present my work on Tumbr because I want to show my images in a context liberated from the constraint of space, allowing people to think about the process..”

“The formatting is also part of the work: a drawing takes the place of another in reverse countdown order,” the artist added. “The idea I want to share is a form of temporality in the work, where the aesthetic aspect is only a means to serve an idea, hence the naming of Lorem Ipsum texts/images that fill the space.” What is LoremIpsum-404's goal in creating images of exploding of patterns and color, where near-biological forms become digital?  “When an abstract image is shown, the mind is always trying to find something it can recognize,” the artist said. “I choose to use a dot in my work, which generates lines as it moves. I am very interested in questioning a medium as ancient as drawing with the new tools at my disposal.”

“In the practice of drawing, the gesture has changed,” LoremIpsum-404 added. “The drawing now becomes a language (Java), which happens the moment it generates graphically. At this point, my hand is no longer of any use, as it remains suspended over the keyboard awaiting the result.” LoremIpsum-404 was originally inspired to create generative, code-based art by figures such as John Maeda, Ben Fry, and Casey Reas, all of whom use Processing in their work. Gregory Chatonsky's generative art, which LoremIpsum-404 described as “more protean,” was also influential. But, LoremIpsum-404 is looking beyond generative art toward new democratizing technologies that will allow anyone to create, not just those who grasp code-based art.

LoremIpsum-404's current work-in-progress is a real-time generative drawing project that uses an XY plotter connected to an Arduino running Processing. If the artist's endlessly evolving Tumblr feed is any indication, it's sure to be mind-blowingly beautiful.


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