Algorithmic Art: Dynamic Display ‘Paints’ Surreal Scenes & Melting Cityscapes


Abstracting views of the city, this huge installation uses
computer algorithms to deform local everyday footage on a
massive 14-by-23-foot display canvas.


Ordinary wall art can get old, especially when one passes it
every day. In this case, hours of film can become thousands of
unique compositions, slowly deconstructed into
impressionist-worthy pieces on the screen.


ESI Design
developed this trippy solution for the lobby of
515 North State Street in Chicago, a structure design by
Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange built
back in the 1990s.


As a contextual work,  it features shots of the
Chicago River, city trains and waterfront amusements, all
devolving dynamically. The designers created the logic and
intent, but don’t actually shape the outcomes — this is done
programmatically.


“Custom software analyzes each video for moving objects, so
moments like a person walking, or a car driving become the
‘brushstrokes’ that slowly create each abstraction. As each
video collides with the next, new compositions unfold in real
time, literally creating thousands of possibilities.”


Meanwhile, the “display itself uses LED modules that are
covered with a layer of vinyl diffusion, removing the harsh
digital glare of bare diodes and giving the imagery a soft
material quality instead. The entire display is framed with a
painted metal molding, with the intention of referencing
traditional canvas paintings.” Except even more so than
paintings in galleries, each experience of this work is
one-of-a-kind.

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