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The story of A Scheme Not Of This World: part 1

Part 1 of the story of A Scheme Not Of This World covers the concept development and early coding. (Part 2 is here.)

A sketch

“A Scheme Not Of This World” began life as a little coding sketch. The code combined scans of some paintings I’d done in a sketchbook, creating a digital collage. At this stage, the code was very simple, essentially picking scans at random to fill the image. (For reasons that completely escape me, I named the code “Partial Lightning”.)

Image 1 of Part 1 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
“Partial Lightning” coding sketch
Image 2 of Part 1 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
Four hand-made collages

Collage

The next part of the story of creating “A Scheme Not Of This World” was producing a load of hand-made content for the code to work with. The bulk of these (over 500) are striped collages, four of which are shown here.

Drawing

Whilst making all the collages that featured in yesterday’s post, I was playing with ideas about how code might arrange them in a sketchbook. This little drawing turned out to be crucial. (Gaussian blurring, less so…)

Image 3 the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
Key idea drawing in sketchbook
Image 4 of Part 1 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
“Scheme of Things” test output

Starting to code

The code for “A Scheme Not Of This World” has two main parts: arranging stuff on a big scale and arranging stuff on a small scale (these are technical terms). The coding development began with the big scale stuff, experimenting with methods of laying out different types of content over any size of area.
I have a strange compulsion to name my code: this part is called “Scheme of Things”. It’s a line from David Bowie’s “Word On A Wing”; the code creates, er, a scheme of things (too much sharing?).

Workings-out

The second part of the “A Scheme Not Of This World” code arranges content within cells of the main grid. This bit of code is called “A World Not Of This World”, the final words of Wisława Szymborska’s poem “Map” (translated by Clare Cavanagh). (I love a map.)
The sketchbook page here shows some of my workings-out, setting up a system that models armatures. (Always show your workings-out, unless it involves a treadmill.) This was definitely the hardest part of the process.

Image 5 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
“A World Not Of This World” drawings and workings-out
Image 6 of Part 1 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
Early small-scale coding development

Armatures

To conclude part 1 of the story of A Scheme Not Of This World, here’s an output from the very early coding development for the small-scale part. The black squares will eventually become the scans of hand-made content in the collage section above. The red lines are there to help work out how the code was progressing. There’s some stuff with armatures going on; this is sort-of coding the sketchbook page I posted yesterday. I’m working in ExtentScript for this project, the Javascript extension that works inside Photoshop.

Two layers

The next step in the coding development for the small-scale part of “A Scheme Not Of This World”. There are two layers now, extending the code that featured yesterday. The grey squares eventually become images from the library of pre-prepared content. The red lines and numbers are there to test that the code is working (I like counting things almost as much as I like lists). The largest red square will become one of the little squares in the second image. If that explanation seems confusing, it’s a lot less confusing than coding the blimin’ thing was… It’ll get a bit more colourful in the next post.

Read more about A Scheme Not Of This World here, or browse prints from the collection in the shop.

Part 2 is here.

Part 7 of the development of ApeiroPattern generative art collection A Scheme Not Of This World by Alex Russell
Two-layered small-scale development

Posted by Alex Russell on 01 May 2021