Abstract Expressionist painters have long explored strategies for decoupling gestural habit and tendency in their work by means of automatic or chance-based operations. This exhibition by Berlin based artist Julian Oliver represents a new strategy along this vein, deploying a computer game as canvas, paint and brush.
The exhibition represents a major iteration of Oliver's game-based painting system, ioq3aPaint, a project that began in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia as part of a long career exploring artistic applications for computer game technology. ioq3aPaint is itself a modification of the source code of ioquake3, a free-software first person shooter engine used by thousands of gamers and game developers worldwide.
Back Buffer: New Arena Paintings deploys four artificial agents, competing for supremacy in a mathematical universe, as painters. Rather than viewing this battle in a highly representative 3D video game style, the scene is instead rendered as a continuously evolving painting, an expressive record of the events in a virtual arena. Here, each agent is purposed as a kind of digital brush; every twitch, lunge and change of state registered immediately as a graphic mark.
Using the new application Oliver will set up in the gallery space a large scale gaming environment where the audience can experience this new software, select and take home a high quality print of an automatic painting as it unfolds before them in real time. From the 36 million paintings that will be generated in the duration of the exhibition, a total of just 250 prints will be made available.
A number of large generated paintings selected by Oliver from earlier iterations of the battle will be displayed in the gallery. A special numbered edition Back Buffer: New Arena Paintings Linux Live CD will be produced for the exhibition and made available to audiences such that people can simply load a CD into their computers, reboot and enjoy the automatic painting system at home without need to install anything. The CD also contains the full source-code of the project allowing for modification and aesthetic development. The application would also be available to download online.
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