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Spotlight: Markos Kay and the Generative Flow

Algorithms, evolution and physical flow, jotta member and Central Saint Martins Communication Design graduate Markos Kay has some complex ideas, these take form as stunning experiments in generative art. Moving into creative and art direction for commercial motion graphics, he tells us more about the making of his mini-universes.

jotta: You mention body dynamics, spherical harmonics, stochastic processes and biomorphism as sources of inspiration in pieces such as 'The Flow' or aDiatomea Colony series. Have you ever consulted specialists in your research of these scientific processes?
Markos Kay
: Most of the research is based on the multitude of secondary sources available on these subjects. I usually extract data and information from different theories and then visualise  them and combine them in new ways. As the projects have grown and gained a presence on the internet, I have been approached by specialists from various fields that have given me their input on the theories. This new information, together with my own research, has helped me to develop future projects.

You've said, “The basic principle of aDiatomea is that every aspect of it is entirely mathematically generated and thus it is not created purposefully as an art piece but as a complex system that takes a life of its own.” Do you see this work as incidental and beyond your creative control?
The way I try to tackle the concept of generative art is to relinquish as much power to computational processes with the least amount of human intervention. In aDiatomea I set up the initial parameters and then let the program play out and evolve by itself, while using a virtual camera to record the action. So the work is not entirely incidental but also not entirely deliberate. There is perhaps always an element of deliberation behind any work, but you could say that this work aims to be conceptually incidental. This concept is very similar to Parametricism in architecture, which is thought to be the new long-term wave after modernism.

In many of your works, such as “The Layers” the evolution of your forms seem to investigate flows of physical information through algorithm. How does this process relate to the artistic process you use when developing a video?
This evolution and flow of physical information effectively become the medium of storytelling in a video. Evolution is naturally linked with time, so as the video plays through, it increases in complexity or entropy or both. This process resembles the recording and watching of a documentary about a natural process that we choose not to interfere with but just observe. The camera is our only way of accessing and observing this world, with the evolution of the system incidentally storytelling while any editing of the recording is deliberate storytelling. I'm comparing these virtual systems with natural systems.

Sound plays a critical role in the experience of your works, especially in the case of Soundway introduction, do you create the sound yourself?
When it comes to sounds, I use generative techniques such as evolutionary algorithms or software that create sounds based on my initial parameters. The sounds are also used as data input that inform the visual. In 'Soundway' for example, the sounds were generated by command line-based software that can create different frequencies of binaural sounds, which were then used to distort the geometries of objects within the 3D program.

Besides these experimental techniques, I have also collaborated with professional sound designers to create rich sound landscapes like the ones found in 'The Flow'. Again, just like I did with the scientific research, I have been approached by sound designers interested in collaborating with me.

How does the experience of illustrating for yourself differentiate from working for the likes of MTV or Nickelodeon?
Commercial work comes with a brief that might already be very restricting and there are a lot of factors to consider like target audience, the product, the brand, timing, deadlines, specific information that needs to be communicated etc. The whole process needs to be carefully planned and there are usually specific steps that need to be taken before production like different initial options, storyboards, moodboards, animation tests, logos and typography.

Personal projects, on the other hand, are much more organic. There is no specific order of steps that needs to be taken even though methods like moodbards and tests can be equally beneficial. There is also not a set brief which means that an idea can evolve and change during the course of its making and can be something completely different than it was at the start.

Related
Posted on
09 November 2011
By Sarah Carmody and Millie Ross
 
 
 
 
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