Art is a means of exploring space, asking questions about the nature of reality, how code and logic fit into all that, and the aesthetics and beauty that we can create. Art is all I want to do these days — creating and sharing it is a source of joy.
The way I like to explore such ideas is through the fundamental truths of mathematics, geometry, and code. It seems I’m never going to get the answer, but it is a way of gaining perspective and insight.
With code and algorithms, you can reduce a system, rebuild it, and then simulate it. We’ve done that successfully in many fields, but is that merely an emulation of physical phenomena or do physical phenomena actually behave according to rules embedded in a code?
I had an open-source philosophy, where everything I was programming I was giving away, which became popular because of my tutorial approach.
Etsy worked out really well, like finding a unicorn in the forest.
I’m hesitant to adopt exotic new languages or software packages because it’s happened to me over and over again that I’ve put a lot of time into learning a language or using a tool that has then become obsolete. It’s like making your bed in the morning — why bother? You’re just going to get in it again.
I do a huge amount of laser cutting and woodworking, and I’m not publishing much of it because it doesn’t fit in with the algorithmic work I am known for. I’m still trying to figure out how to bring that to the public and make it open-source like I’ve tried with my other work.
It might seem strange now but, at the time, there was this rejection — how could it be art on the computer? You’re writing a program, making art. It didn’t make sense to some of [my family]. I thought, if I can print it out into this more traditional medium and hand a print to somebody and they get it, it’s art.
Part of my problem is that I work in isolation — I live like a wizard in a tower and only come down to get bread sometimes.
How could there be something so complex and beautiful and such a mirror of the cosmos? How could something like that come out of such an ordered system?
Maybe as I grow and develop as an artist, I will someday learn how to use color. But for now, I am limiting my palette so that I’m forced to study the creativity of the structure.
Once you start to get into it and understand it, the real beauty is in the mechanism and in the ability to edit and modify the mechanism. I’ve made it a goal that every new work I produce until the end of my life will also be released in the code.
Jared S. Tarbell is a generative artist, developer, and programmer who has worked with code for over 30 years. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tarbell’s initial encounter with personal computers in 1987 sparked a lifelong passion. Fascinated by the system-like intricacies of the world, he visualizes abstract truths by observing multiple outputs and refining his algorithms. His works bridge mathematical beauty and abstract exploration, uniting spirituality with computational precision.
Kate Vass is the founder of Kate Vass Galerie, a pioneering art gallery established in Zurich, Switzerland in 2016. She has since launched a curated marketplace, K011, which empowers AI and generative artists through a long-form AI engine called 0KAI that enables the creation of long-form AI artworks on the blockchain. Kate Vass Galerie has hosted a number of ground-breaking exhibitions, including “Perfect & Priceless: Value Systems on the Blockchain” (2018-19) and “Automat Und Mensch,” which explored the history of generative art. Recognized for her contributions to global art and tech culture, in 2021 Kate Vass was named as one of the Art & Tech 40 under 40 and featured on the Artnet NFT 30 list.
Alex Estorick is Editor-in-Chief at Right Click Save.